It’s not every day, month, or year that a new brand enters the New Zealand market. But today is that day as we headed to Auckland to find out what Chinese brands OMODA and Jaecoo, have in store for New Zealanders. The two brands are run under the parent brand, Chery.

Why two brands? Chery will be targeting younger buyers with their OMODA models, while “older” buyers will likely look at the Jaecoo models. Jaecoos use the same platform and drivetrain as the OMODA but will have more conservative styling and different interiors.

In case you were wondering, OMODA is made up from O, representing Oxygen, and MODA refers to modern – “which means a modern and fashionable lifestyle, emphasising the product power with good appearance and a strong sense of technology”.

Slow reveal for the OMODA C5

OMODA & JAECOO – Some background

So, who are OMODA and Jaecoo? Let’s discuss numbers; in 2022, they exported more than 450,00 passenger vehicles, with global sales of over 1.2 million. Overseas, they are a mid-segment brand, taking on manufacturers from Korea, Japan, and Europe.

Of the OMODA model to be launched here first, the C5, 12,000 were exported from China in November alone, and the model is now sold in 15 markets worldwide. To date, 134,000 C5s have been sold around the world.

They have four R&D centres around the world, including China, North America, and South America. 

OMODA C5 rear seats

OMODA C5: Design

We spoke to some of OMODA’s designers via a live link broadcast, from China. OMODA says their feeling is that the C5 represents “Art in motion” for this, their first global model. 

They claim it is different in design to traditional SUVs with a “technical and dynamic front design”, an “integrated diamond grille” and T-shape daytime running lights. The C5 is fitted with 18” rims and has “X-Style Penetration LED taillights”.

On the inside, there are “integrated sports seats”, illuminated cup holders, Qi wireless phone charging, and voice commands for doing tasks like altering the AC, and opening or closing the tailgate or sunroof.

There are 64 colours to choose from for the ambient lighting and this can be tied to the audio track if you want.

OMODA/JAECOO in New Zealand/Models

Currently, the dealer network stands at 12, with 11 of those in the North Island and one in Christchurch. The company is working hard to bring on more South Island dealers and will expand the North Island dealership over time. The company has an aim of 3% market share in their first year.

January 2024 sees the launch of the first OMODA model, the C5. It will come in several models to start with; a ‘base’ 1.5 turbo-petrol, and an up-spec model with the same motor. Then there’s a 1.6 turbo-petrol with 140kW of power in a base spec, and up-spec. All models will run a CVT transmission with a 7-speed stepped mode. The 1.6 model will get to 100km/h in 8.0 seconds, says OMODA.

OMODA C5 interior

At the same time these models are launched, OMODA will be releasing a full EV model, the E5. This will be fitted with a 61kWh battery pack, although we have no other details yet on the model to be sold in New Zealand.

On display was a top-spec 1.5 model, looking quite sharp and modern. The styling appeals to a younger market and perhaps that large grille is saying “younger buyer”.

The interior seems well put together and quite luxurious, with two 10.25” screens prominent. The touch points are nice, and overall the interior is modern with some nice features. The centre console is high but this does mean your elbow rests on it perfectly. 

The infotainment system is quite speedy, and clarity is excellent. This model has a 360-degree camera, again with great resolution. There are heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

Closing the doors brings a solid ‘thunk’, which was pleasing. Nothing about this car feels like it’s a first model.

Information on the Jaecoo models will come in early 2024. The Jaecoo and OMODA models will be priced similarly, so it will be down to buyer preference on which brand (design) they choose.

The brand is looking to release internal combustion engine (ICE) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models of different-sized SUVs in both brands; For example, there will be a C3 in the OMODA range, then the bigger C5, the C7 and then the C9. Both OMODA and Jaecoo will only be selling SUVs.

In Australia, the C5 has a 5-star ANCAP rating. OMODA/Jaecoo are working with ANCAP to see if they can transpose that rating to the New Zealand model, which simply dumps the Chery branding. The E5 EV model has not been ANCAP tested yet, but the company will launch the EV model here regardless if it has an ANCAP rating at launch or not.

DriveLife is looking forward to attending the launch of the C5 and E5 models, and spending some time behind the wheel to see if this new-to-New Zealand brand can get that market share they are aiming for.

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How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.

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