Last week I was in Shenzhen where I was invited for a test drive in the brand new Denza EV. I was a passenger in this ‘Denza Blue’ example driven by one of the factory’s development-test drivers who knew the vehicle inside and out. We drove on steep and challenging roads through the hills in the far eastern part of the city.
Top speed isn’t very impressive but all torque is available at all time, which is especially great on a mountain road, speeding from bump to bump like a racy car. Denza should market this thing as sporty, not as green, as nobody cares about green in China..
The Denza EV is manufactured in Shenzhen by BYD-Daimler, a joint venture between BYD Automobile and Daimler-Benz. The joint venture aims at making affordable electric cars for the Chinese auto market. The full name of the venture is ‘Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology’ (BDNT), it was established in March 2012.
The first Denza concept debuted on the 2012 Beijing Auto Show and the production version debuted on the 2014 Beijing Auto Show. BYD and Daimler are said to be happy with the final result and are studying on the possibility of adding a second car to the Denza range. There are currently no plans for export to other countries.
The Denza EV is loosely based on the platform of the first generation W245 Mercedes-Benz B-Class, but the necessary adjustments to turn the B into an electric car were so numerous that the platform is basically new.
Power comes from an electric motor with 86 kW and 290nm, mated to a 47.5 kWh lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery system. Top speed is 150km/h. 0-50 km/h takes 4.5 seconds. 50-80 km/h takes 5 seconds, and 0-100 km/h takes 14 seconds. Range is about 250 kilometer, but can be extended to about 300 kilometer when the aircon and all other unnecessary electrical systems are switched off.
The wood, which we mocked before, is actually trendy plastic. Gear lever cool. Price for the Denza, including all green-car subsidies, starts at 369.000 yuan and ends at 399.000 yuan ($60.000 – 65.000). The rather steep price includes a fast home-charger which takes about three hours for a full charge. The Denza will go on sale in Shenzhen and Shanghai in October, followed by Beijing in November, and the rest of China will follow in 2015.
The dials are fully digital. To the left the battery meter, in the center the speedo, and to the right the power meter.
The batteries are located under the floor. The electric motor sits low under the bonnet, topped by the auxiliary systems.
Charging up nose. Fast or standard 220V. I am on the left of the Denza logo, development-test driver Arthur Christoffer is on the right.
The eye-catching rear end. With green trees and all. But for China to go electric, speed is what it needs.