Zotye Auto, infamous as a supposed cloner of other OEMs’ models, has been steadily building up a range of vehicles. Moderately successful in its native China as well as in certain export markets, the company has several brands and will from next year be a partner of Ford, supplying its much larger rival with an EV.
It hasn’t been the greatest of starts to a year for this sixteen year old privately held, Zhejiang-based company. That’s something of an understatement too, given that sales of the Zotye brand more than halved (57.1%) in the first quarter. At a wholesale level and according to CAAM data, deliveries plunged to 35,126 units. That number dropped Zotye down to 29th place behind Mazda (39,363, -49.4%) and well behind JAC and Skoda, two makes it had been leading this time last year. Already, the company has taken action by killing off its Damai brand, while investing more in the Zotye and Traum line-ups.
The T300 is the brand’s currently most successful model in China, wholesale deliveries for the first quarter numbering 16,161 vehicles. Putting that in perspective and showing also how Zotye relates to other makes, this model was the only one to feature in the top 100, just scraping in at position 99.
The 4,387mm long T300 looks a lot like the concept of the same name which premiered at the Beijing motor show in April 2016. The production model followed one year later at the Shanghai motor show, build also commencing in April 2017.
In November 2018, Zotye began the process of recruiting dealers for a brand launch in the USA, which it is planning for 2020. The company said only that it would be exporting a low-price crossover to the country. The firm’s US base is in Lake Forest, California. There have been suggestions that the T300 could be one of the launch models.
In the D-SUV size class, Zotye has the T500. This 4,632mm long model is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-litre engine. Production started in October 2017. There should be a facelift in 2021 and a successor in 2024.
The T600, which is around the same size as the VW Tiguan, has been in production since December 2013, which means it should be replaced in 2020 or possibly 2021. The project code for that model is B11G.
The T700 is much younger than the T700, having entered production in March 2017. This SUV is the production version of a concept which was called T600 S. Engine choice is between 1.8- and 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol units. There should be a facelift towards the end of next year with a replacement due in 2024.
The T900 (provisional name, project code is L10) is to be a large SUV. Prototypes seen testing look very similar to the Range Rover Sport. The first engine should be a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol unit, with other engines possibly to be added later. The Chinese market launch may take place as soon as the second half of this year.
There are two other Zotye SUVs but neither has a name which starts with T. The first of the pair is the 4,510mm long SR7. This model was controversial at the time of its release due to it looking similar to the first generation Audi Q3. The SR7 premiered as a prototype at the 2015 Guangzhou motor show and the Chinese market sales release took place during the final month of that year. The replacement will likely be launched in 2022.
The other ‘SR’ model is the SR9. Prototypes of this SUV were nearly identical to the Porsche Macan. The car was originally seen as the S21, a prototype which premiered at September 2015’s Chengdu motor show. The production model went on sale in China in October 2016. Its maker released a facelifted SR9 in January with many of the Porsche similarities having been altered. The replacement should have its market release in 2023.
The Z series, meanwhile, appears to be in the process of being phased out. Several models are now either at the end of their life cycles or getting close to that point. There have not been any vehicles launched with a Z and three numbers for some time, most newer Zotyes having the T or SR prefixes for their alphanumeric names.
Z100, launched six years ago and soon to be discontinued, looks remarkably like an older generation Suzuki Alto. It was the replacement for the Jiangnan TT, at the time, China’s cheapest car. There is also an electric version which sells in very small volumes.
A16 and B21, two SUV prototypes, are for now known only by their development codes. Revealed at the Shanghai motor show in April, each looks something like the Mazda CX-5 but with radically different front and rear ends.
Zotye also sells a small number of electric cars, its main model being the E200. This tiny EV premiered alongside the similarly sized Zhima E30, another small three-door plug-in hatchback, at April 2015’s Shanghai motor show. The car went into production in March 2016 and was on sale in certain parts of China from the following month.
In July 2018, a longer range version called E200 Pro was added. The car has an NEDC range of 301km and a maximum range of 330km. The company says the Pro’s outputs are 60kW and 180Nm. In fast-charging mode, 80 per cent of that range can be attained in 45 minutes. These cars should be facelifted in the final quarter of 2019, although that might not happen until 2020. The successors are due in 2023.
The Traum brand was launched in China during 2017. It means dream in German and the slogan is Driven By Dreams. The Chinese version of Traum is ‘Jùn Ma’, meaning Supreme Steed.
Huanshan Jinma, which is also the parent company of Zotye Auto, has ambitious plans for this division. The first model, the T70, a seven-seat SUV, was developed with the A1 project code. It was followed by the Meet 3, a C segment/Compact SUV. This vehicle is based on the Zotye SR7. The Meet 3 premiered at the Beijing motor show in April 2018. It was notable for having a standard Pioneer karaoke system.
In addition to PHEV and EV derivatives, Huanshan Jinma will eventually fit all of the Traum models with one of three newly developed turbocharged petrol engines. These will have capacities of 1.2, 1.5 or 2.0 litres.
Traum vehicles are manufactured by Jiangnan Auto, which is owned by a subsidiary of Zotye Auto’s parent company.
The 4,633mm long Meet 5, a crossover, is due to be revealed soon. Prototypes not only look uncannily like the Mazda CX-4 but the dimensions are very similar too. There should be a facelift in 2022 and a successor in 2025 or 2026.
Reports for many other manufacturers’ future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.
Future product program intelligence
More detail on past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of QUBE. Details of certain other Zotye models not mentioned in the above report can be found in PLDB. That includes the Z300, Z500 and Z700 as well as provisional details of the deal to supply at least one EV to Ford Motor Company.
The next OEM to be featured in the future vehicles series will be Borgward.