I Drove The Wuling Bingo And The NETA V In Nairobi, Kenya — The Experience Was Quite Good!

I Drove The Wuling Bingo And The Neta V In Nairobi Kenya The Experience Was Quite Good

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There has been a lot of activity and therefore a lot of attention given to the nascent electric motorcycle and electric bus sectors in Kenya. But there is also quite some activity in the electric car space in Kenya. Several official dealerships are now bringing in brand new models of electric cars and pickups, including representatives of Hyundai and JAC Motors.

One other exciting thing to note is there are some independent dealerships that are now bringing in some brand new electric cars from China. This has been enabled by the fact that there is a growing number of models in China that are now available in right hand drive.

One of these firms is UTU Cars. UTU Cars started off bringing in some small low-speed electric vehicles, but has now significantly expanded its model offering to include some more affordable electric cars from Chinese OEMs, including the NETA V and the Wuling Bingo. The NETA V is now available in Kenya in right hand drive (RHD). The NETA V starts from about 5 million Kenyan shillings, which is around $37,000. The Wuling Bingo starts from around 3.2 million Kenyan shillings, which his approximately $24,000.

The Wuling Bingo in green at Junction Mall, Nairobi, Kenya.

The NETA V has a 55 kW motor producing 175 N.m of torque (maximum). It has a top speed of 100 km/h. It has a 6.6 kW onboard charger as well as DC fast charging from 30–80 % in 30 minutes. The 38.54 kWh LFP battery by CATL is good for about 300 km in the WLTP cycle. All this from just $12,000 in its home market in China. It starts from around $16,000 in places like Thailand. From this, it seems the price in Kenya is a bit on the high side for a number of reasons, including high import duties and taxes. There are also shipping costs, and of course dealer margins. Kenya is working on a new electric vehicle policy, and one hopes once it is finalised, the perennial issues of very high import duties levied on electric cars that result in essentially doubling the price of a vehicle compared to other markets will go away.

The Wuling Bingo has two variants, both with a 50kW motor:

  • A model with a range of up to 333 km powered by a 31.9 kWh battery
  • A model with a range of up to 410 km powered by a 37.9 kWh

I assume these ranges are based on the NEDC cycle, or perhaps the CLTC.

The NETA V and the Wuling Bingo models I drove in Kenya had the Chinese GB/T charging standard. As more of these types of EVs start coming to places like Kenya, I think the GB/T standard and charging infrastructure will be joining the CCS2 on the DC side and Type 2 on the AC side, and CHAdeMo on DC and Type 1 on AC, which are now common in Kenya thanks to vehicle imports from both Europe and Japan.

I drove both the NETA V and the Wuling Bingo in Nairobi, and I must say that with their purchase prices on the international market in mind, such as in Thailand and other places, the vehicles do look like great value for money. The build quality and the driving dynamics were pretty good for the price. These are vehicles that could do well on the Kenyan market if they are brought here in decent volumes, and of course if the pricing is further optimised. A reduction in import duties would certainly go a long way toward reducing the price of the vehicles, and when volumes pick up, other stuff like shipping costs and dealer markups can also be further optimised.

In summary, it’s really great to see that these types of vehicles are now available in Kenya. People can only buy what is available in their markets, and we need get as many options as possible of these more affordable EVs to consumers ASAP.

The NETA V in blue and the Wuling Bingo in green, at Junction Mall, Nairobi, Kenya.

Images by Remeredzai

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