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MG Philippines’ ‘electrified invasion’

MG Philippines’ ‘electrified invasion’

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By VJ Bacungan

Electric vehicles (EVs), after decades of trying, are finally making their way into our daily commutes. Whether it’s something exotic like the 905-horsepower Lotus Eletre R or those highly-controversial, low-speed e-trikes that are plying even national roads, mobility without fossil fuels is becoming a clearer reality over the next decade.

That’s because the Philippine government is expecting local EV sales to reach at least 311,700 units by the end of 2028. And with planned ban on the sale of brand-new internal-combustion-engine (ICE) cars by 2040, at least 852,100 EVs are expected to be sold by the end of that year.

Among the manufacturers of four-wheeled EVs, it’s the Chinese who are well and truly taking the lead – and they are also taking advantage of the growing demand for EVs in the Philippines.

One company that has notably leapfrogged into this space is MG Philippines, which has long been known for its competent and well-priced ICE sedans and crossovers. But with parent company SAIC Motor taking over local operations last year, the brand is now going all-out on EVs.

Lightning-fast

Perhaps the most breathtaking example of MG’s EV prowess is the stunning Cyberster roadster, which was previewed locally in December last year.

MG is world-renowned for its two-seat roadsters. Long before SAIC Motor bought the company, the formerly British carmaker had produced the likes of the MG Midget, MGA, MGB and its last foray into the convertible sports car market, the MGF.

The Cyberster seeks to continue the brand’s rich tradition with a sleek body, luxurious interior and stunning scissor doors. And it is expected to go like “lightning”, too.

Two variants are available in other markets – the rear-wheel-drive model has 309 horsepower, while the all-wheel-drive model packs 537 horsepower. The latter can do 0 to 100 km/h in 3.0 seconds, keeping up with the likes of the Porsche 911 Turbo.

Sales of the MG Cyberster are expected to start this year, with prices under the P4 million mark.

It should also be MG Philippines’ crown jewel at the upcoming Manila International Auto Show.

Electrifying practicality

MG Philippines has currently two EVs on sale.

First is the MG4 hatchback, which is available in either the P1,468,888 STD or P1,738,888 LUX variant.

The STD produces 168 hp and 250 N-m of torque and has up to 351 kilometers of WLTP range, while the LUX pumps out 201 hp and 250 N-m of torque with a 435-kilometer WLTP maximum range.

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MG’s second EV is the Marvel R – P2,588,888 for the 2WD and P2,888,888 for the AWD model. Both variants come with a 70-kWh battery pack mated to a 183-horsepower electric motor, with a maximum WLTP range of 401 kilometers for the 2WD model.

Hybrid in the pipeline?

With all the focus on battery EVs, it seems that MG Philippines is letting buyers choose from pure ICE or pure EV.

But there is word that the carmaker will bring in a hybrid model. And it is most likely to be the latest version of the MG3, which was launched globally last month.

The subcompact hatchback has a 1.5-liter, twin-cam, 16-valve inline-4 gasoline engine mated to a 1.83-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor. Combined output is a whopping 192 horsepower, which is coursed through a specialized 3-speed automatic gearbox.

Given that even hybrid EVs get incentives like number-coding exemption, the MG3 could make quite a bit of headway in the subcompact category. And its 1.5-liter hybrid powertrain could possibly make its way to the regular ICE models for greater performance and fuel economy.

Do you think MG Philippines made the right call with its “electrified invasion”?