Yet more Chinese imports on their way, this time electric, and available to rent

17th May 2024 By: Irma Venter - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Yet more Chinese imports on their way, this time electric, and available to rent

The DFSK EC35 four-seater panel van

Local importer of Dongfeng Sokon Automobile (DFSK) battery electric vehicles (BEV), Enviro Automotive, says it will make a number of additions to its vehicle line-up.

The company introduced the DFSK brand to South Africa in July 2022, with the introduction of the EC35 panel van and EC31 one-ton bakkie.

DFSK is a joint venture between China’s Dongfeng Motor Company and the Chongqing Sokon Industry Group.

"In 2022, during our visit to China to sign the distribution agreement with DFSK, we identified their EV products as the most competitive option for our local market to meet mobility needs, while also positively impacting costs," says Enviro Automotive MD Gideon Wolvaardt.

“DFSK's EC35 dominates the electric panel van market in China.”

Following the local launch of the EC35, feedback from the South African market pointed to a need among labour-intensive businesses for a vehicle with increased space, as well as a four-seater configuration.

As a result, Enviro Automotive will now also add the EC35 four-seater derivative to its panel van line-up.

"After nearly two years of intensive local market research, establishing our infrastructure to meet future market demands, and rigorous testing of our DFSK EV panel vans and bakkies in demanding transport fleets, we confidently expand our range to offer more sustainable mobility solutions for last-mile delivery companies,” says Wolvaardt.

Both EC35 derivatives share the same technical foundation, differing only in passenger capacity and cargo space.

Both vehicles offer a payload of 950 kg. However, the four-seater's cargo space measures 3.1 m³, which is 1.7 m³ less than the two-seater's 4.8 m³.

"Market feedback on BEV acquisition costs prompted us to introduce a monthly rental scheme, offering our DFSK EVs at R3.75 per kilometre,” adds Wolvaardt.

“This option enables buyers to transition to green-energy delivery vehicles and to save on costs doing so.”

Enviro Automotive has also confirmed the launch of the larger DFSK EC75 van in the last quarter of this year.

The EC75 has a single synchronous electric motor delivering 70 kW of power and 230 Nm of torque. Its 50.38 kWh lithium-iron phosphate battery promises more than 300 km range.

The vehicle has a 3 200 mm wheelbase and 19.3 m³ of cargo space.

The EC75 will be available in two specification levels – an entry-level version and a higher-specced variant featuring safety features such as lane-departure warning, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control.

Enviro Automotive last year also broadened its product range by importing battery-electric medium commercial vehicle (MCV) trucks from Dayun Motors in China.

Scheduled for the last quarter of this year, the company also aims to add “budget-friendly” battery-electric passenger cars to its portfolio.

These include the likes of the Dayun Yuehu, a compact hatchback with a 330 km range, priced below R400 000.

Enviro Automotive also plans to introduce another Chinese brand, SRM, into the local market.

Scheduled for introduction in the last quarter of the year, the SRM T3 BEV 1.6 t small truck offers a load area of 5.2 m³.

It is powered by a single synchronous electric motor producing 60 kW and 220 Nm of torque, with a 53.58 kWh lithium-iron phosphate battery providing more than 300 km of range.

"As green commercial electric vehicles gain wider acceptance, we aim to capitalise on evolving market trends in South Africa,” notes Wolvaardt.