The GWM Ora is one of the most exciting cars to come out in 2023. After months of delays, it was finally launched this week in South Africa. I also wrote about it here for City Press.

It stands out for many reasons, not just looks and tech, but because it is the cheapest EV in SA or least expensive, whichever way you interpret it.

The official branding in South Africa is the GWM Ora 03, which is the Funky Cat in some markets abroad, and deviations with the word cat.

GWM Ora 03 lineup

Apart from a new lower price than when it was initially revealed, we have confirmation that there will be four models in the lineup. This is what GWM Ora 03 offering looks like:

The charging flap is on the front left.

You may recall I got an exclusive first drive of the car back in June, and I published this article on Recharged. I covered a lot of my first impressions there, tech, and drive, you can catch up here:

First Drive: GWM Ora 400 GT

The reason for the delay was due to an off-grid charging solution being bundled with the car. This is what GWM will be offering with the car. It is an option for customers, from SVOLT, a GWM-backed battery production company. Price includes VAT:

The launch drive took us from Kyalami race track to the V8 Roadhouse in Hartbeespoort. I covered it in my City Press article, but I will paste it here:

Launch Drive – Kyalami to Hartbeespoort

For the launch event, GWM put us through an “economy challenge” to see if we could use the least amount of battery for the return trip.

My driving partner and fellow journalist Brenwin Naidu got into the 400 GT as it was the last available model. We opted to drive in “eco” mode throughout to try and win the challenge.

We started off with 99% battery and 385km of range. Just like a Volvo EV, the Ora does not have a start button. However, there is a power off button to the right, which may not be obvious to the driver.

What I like about the Ora is that you can get into different driving modes at the touch of a button. Each mode has a corresponding chime to it, to indicate your selection, sort of like BMW’s “Iconic Sounds” on some of its EVs.

We started at the Kyalami Racing Circuit in Gauteng and drove to the V8 Roadhouse in Hartbeespoort in the North West – in our EVs, ha! – for a milkshake “coolant” break. We got there with 91% battery, after starting with 99%.

We headed back on the same route, which was a 45km trip each way, through the R55 and R511.

There was some lunchtime traffic on the way back and at this point we used some air conditioner, unlike on the way to Hartbeespoort. Driving in eco mode didn’t take away from the experience of driving an EV.

We reached Kyalami with 80% battery and 272km of range. Our consumption was 15.3kWh per 100km, which is better than the claimed 16.8kWh per 100km for this flagship model. And with those figures, we won the “economy challenge”.

The track experience allowed us to go around the Kyalami racetrack and get a better feel for the car. The Ora 03 offers the right amount of power for a city EV, which is what it’s intended for. There are other EVs on the market with a lot more power, but if you’re looking for an EV for short commutes and to drive efficiently, the Ora 03 is probably your best bet.

Other things to note

The Ora 03 doesn’t have a start button, like the Volvo EVs – you just put it into gear and drive. But you may be stumped when it comes to switching the car off. It’s not very intuitive, but there is a kill switch on the right hand side of the steering wheel; the button on the extreme right. I hope this is communicated with potential customers.


Another thing I noticed is the maximum DC charging speeds, which is 50-67kW between the models. I would love to see if it works at the Mall of Africa’s 200kW charger; or other chargers. This will only come with testing for a lengthier period.

I really like this dual 10.25-inch screens side-by-side, there’s also a lot going on there. It supports CarPlay and Android Auto, in case you’re wondering about privacy. I do want to spend more time with it to see how in-depth it actually is with info available to the driver. I haven’t had the opportunity to charge it myself.

GWM Ora 03 Availability

The Ora 03 will be sold across GWM dealerships in South Africa, there are around 20 in Sub-Saharan Africa (SA, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius). I’m told there is currently limited availability per dealership but there is more stock coming in December and January.

The cars come with a 7-year/200 000km vehicle warranty and an 8-year/150 000km warranty on high-voltage parts. There’s a 7-year/105 000km service plan at 15 000km/12 month intervals; and a 7-year/unlimited km roadside assistance.