Ora’s “Mini Panamera” Lightning Cat EV would be based on and built alongside BMW’s MINI in China


When the Ora Lightning Cat EV was unveiled last year, many people commented on how much it looked like a smaller and probably prettier Porsche Panamera. But under the skin, the Chinese EV has more in common with a very different (or more accurately, German-owned) German automaker.

The Lightning Cat will share a platform with two new electric Mini models and all three cars will be built at the same Zhangjiagang factory in China, according to a report by well-connected German journalist Greg Kable. The Spotlight Automotive plant is a joint project between Great Wall Motor and BMW and has the capacity to produce 160,000 units each year.

Great Wall’s Ora sub-brand first showcased the Lightning Cat at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show. Design-wise, the five-door sedan is more closely aligned with the company’s smaller Cat sedan. than on the overtly retro Punk Cat, which drew controversy for its similarity to the classic VW Beetle.

Related: 2023 MINI Hatch caught completely undisguised in China more than a year ahead of schedule

Blending Porsche 911 styling cues around the nose with a silhouette reminiscent of a Panamera sedan, the Lightning Cat features an active rear spoiler, just like the Porsche, while the three-gauge cluster and rising center console recall the 918 Spyder from the German company. . A large touch screen floating proudly on the dashboard dominates the cabin, which offers four individual seats, again mimicking those of the Panamera.

Ora didn’t reveal detailed mechanical specs for the Lightning Cat, but while the 918 Spyder might not be fast, it sure should be fast enough to embarrass most Porsche SUVs and low-end sports cars. level. A pair of electric motors driving all four wheels will give the production car a zero-to-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 3.5 seconds, the company claims.

When we asked BMW about the report, he said he had no official news on the Spotlight Automotive project beyond what was announced a few years ago when he confirmed that Great Wall and Mini would team up to build future electric cars.

While the Mini factory in Oxford in the UK will continue to build ICE-powered Minis after the next generation car is released, EV derivatives using an entirely different platform will be built in China.

Note: Ora Lightning Cat EV Concept shown

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Robert M. Larson