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When Chery’s first hybrid is going on sale in South Africa

One-and-a-half whirlwind years following its successful re-entry into South Africa, Chery confirmed that its first new-energy vehicles (NEV), including plug-in hybrids (PHEV), are slated to land in the country in the initial six months of 2024.

“We anticipate the first NEV and PHEV vehicles arriving in SA in the first half of next year,” Chery’s domestic subsidiary told TopAuto.

Unfortunately, there has been no word from the manufacturer about potential battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in the pipeline, with Chery South Africa saying it has “no confirmation” from HQ in China on any BEVs for the local market in 2024.

However, with rivals such as BYD and GWM recently announcing their plans to release their own EVs into the country in the year we are in now, Chery may have to adapt its EV roadmap ever so slightly to seize a slice of a budding market segment.

What to expect

Chery debuted its third-generation PHEV technologies in April which have now been equipped to the popular Tiggo 7 Pro and Tiggo 8 Pro ranges in other countries, with the moniker “e+” being added to the hybridised models.

The 7 Pro e+ is yet to reach the market, but in regions such as the Phillipines, the 8 Pro e+ sits at the top of the company’s product list.

While Chery did not confirm which of its PHEVs are in the works for South Africa, both the Tiggo 7 and 8 are strong sellers for the brand in our market and therefore good candidates for an introduction.

In the 8 Pro e+, the PHEV system comprises a “hybrid-specific” 1.5-litre, turbo-petrol motor delivering 115kW and 230Nm, combining with two electric motors with power outputs of 55kW and 160Nm, and 70kW and 155Nm, respectively, and an efficiency rating of 97.6%.

“During its development, these electric motors ran faultlessly for more than 30,000 hours and five million combined testing kilometres. This promises a real-world service life of at least 1.5 times the industry average,” said Chery.

Altogether, the PHEV powertrain generates up to 338kW and 510Nm in four-wheel-drive spec and pushes the SUV past 100km/h in around five seconds, while fuel consumption is rated for a low 1.3l/100km.

The 19.27kWh lithium-ion battery also serves up 95km of pure-electric driving, with the entire setup providing “a comprehensive range of nearly 1,000km” in the Tiggo 8 Pro e+, according to the company.

When depleted, the battery can be charged back up to 100% in three hours.

To get all the powerplants working in harmony, Chery created a “three-gear transmission” that combines the electric units with the petrol side’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) to provide “near infinite gear combinations,” said the automaker.

The engine-gearbox configuration is managed by nine unique operating modes that are suited for everything from efficiency to dynamic driving, and whatever falls in between. The programmes include single-motor electric, dual-motor pure-electric performance, petrol only, parallel drive, charging, charging whilst driving, and more.

On top of this, the system offers 11 speed ratios for individual or application-specific settings, such as low-speed driving, long-distance driving, mountain driving, overtaking, expressway driving, driving on slippery conditions, and urban commuting.

This intricate setup has resulted in the “world’s first DHT technology with 3 engines, 3 gears, 9 working modes, and 11 speed ratios,” said Chery.

“The production version of our new hybrid system shows both the technical expertise of Chery and its engineers and the exciting future of the vehicles earmarked for South Africa,” said Tony Liu, executive deputy general manager of Chery South Africa.

Inside, the seven-seater offers much of the same equipment as the current flagship Tiggo, which is more than what most would need.

Specifics include a “triplex screen” layout comprising a 12.3-inch driver’s instrument panel, a 12.3-inch central control display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a third 8-inch touchscreen dedicated to aircon controls.

Other niceties are available, too, such as leather seats with electric adjustability and ventilation, steering wheel heating, dual-zone climate control, an eight-speaker Sony surround sound system, a panoramic sunroof, wireless charging, multi-colour ambient lighting, automatic LED lights with intelligent high-beam control, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist.

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