If you’ve been longing for a battery-powered bakkie, the new Maxus T90 EV could be the answer to your prayers, if you’re prepared to part with more than a million rand.
South Africa’s electric vehicle (EV) market is still very much in its infancy, with a growing number of premium cars and SUVs paving the way, but until now South Africans haven’t been able to buy an electric double cab bakkie.
So what is Maxus?
The brand is owned by the Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation (SAIC) which also has the British MG brand under its wing. The Chinese automotive giant recently teamed up with a South African dealer and distributor to form Maxus Electric Vehicles.
It will initially be focused on the Gauteng region, following the opening this week of a new dealership in Menlyn, Pretoria, and the company plans to expand to Cape Town, Durban and other metropolitan areas.
First out the starting blocks are the eDeliver 3 Panel Van and Chassis Cab models, both priced at R799 995, while the T90 EV double cab bakkie will be available later in 2023 at a price of R1.1 million.
Given the premium price tag, which puts it into contention with some of the country’s most expensive bakkies, the T90 EV is likely to remain a niche player in the market for the time being, while its claimed range of 330km between charges could also dissuade potential buyers.
However, the importer believes the new battery bakkie will appeal to buyers in industries like mining, private security, aviation and farming.
The T90 EV is currently sold in 4x2 guise only, with a single electric motor producing 150kW and 310Nm. There are a few downsides to this electric configuration, however, as the top speed is limited to 120km/h and the braked towing capacity is just 1,000kg.
On the upside, the vehicle is rated to carry a tonne in the load bin.
The T90’s electric motor is fed by an 88.5 kWh Ternary Polymer Lithium battery, which has an eight-year or 160 000km warranty covering it for 75% of its capacity.
The 330km WLTP range is a combined figure, but it could go further than that on city roads as the WLTP City Range is listed at 400km, given that EVs are more efficient in the urban jungle due to regenerative braking.
Connected to a DC fast charger, the T90 EV can be juiced from 5% to 80% in 45 minutes, Maxus claims, while an AC charge will take between 9 hours (11kW) and 13 hours (7kW).
Standard interior features in the Maxus T90 EV include a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with reverse camera, heated seats, auto headlights, electric mirrors, ESP stability control and dual front airbags.
At this stage there is no word on when the established brands will be offering fully electric bakkies in South Africa, although the Ford Ranger Plug-in Hybrid has just been revealed abroad, and Chinese importer JAC is aiming to bring a fully electric double cab in 2024 - read more here.
Panel van and chassis cab
As mentioned, Maxus is also offering two commercial vehicles to local buyers.
The eDeliver 3 Panel Van offers an OEM estimated range of between 250km and 280km. The Chassis Cab’s range will depend on the load body style fitted.
The 50 kWh battery is compatible with DC charging and Maxus claims an energy consumption of 22.4 kWh per 100km for the Panel Van, and an average operation cost of 45 cents per kilometre.
The maximum payload of the panel van is listed at 945kg, while the chassis cab is said to be good for up to 1,080kg.
Interior features in both vehicles include a 7.0-inch touchscreen with reverse camera, aircon, cruise control, heated seats and multi-function steering wheel.
The commercial EVs have already impressed some early customers such as Woolworths and DSV, via the brand’s leasing partner Everlectric.
“With environmental and sustainability concerns rising up the corporate agenda and the growing operational efficiencies of EVs, there is a compelling business case for decarbonising urban logistics fleets,“ said Ndia Magadagela, CEO at MAXUS Electric Vehicles.