What is Hozon Auto? It might seem like “just another” Chinese EV company but this one has concrete plans for our region. Many others do, we hear you say. Yes, but Hozon Auto has secured CKD local assembly rights in Thailand via Arun Plus, the EV subsidiary of Thai energy giant PTT.

The first product for Thailand is the Neta V. Launched there last month, the EV will be a CBU import from China for the first two years, before CKD production starts. Eventual exports to ASEAN using Thailand as a base has been mentioned by Hozon more than once, and Malaysia and Indonesia are also right-hand drive markets, like Thailand, making things easier.

‘Coming to Malaysia’ isn’t just speculation though. We found a recruitment ad by Hozon Auto on LinkedIn CN looking for an ‘International Senior Sales Manager’ for the Malaysian market. The job description sounds very much like a country head’s, and the candidate will have to oversee the development of sales and marketing for Malaysia, as well as appoint and oversee a local distributor, among other tasks.

Click to enlarge

The ad, which went up four weeks ago, did not mention if the job is based in China or Malaysia. Screenshots of the ad are above, in the original Chinese and translated English. Laying the groundwork as we speak.

The Neta V is very affordable – with a price tag of just 549,000 baht (RM68,376), this EV is priced similarly to the entry-level new Yaris Ativ (Vios to us) in Thailand. For that, you get a 38.5 kWh lithium-ion battery powering an e-motor with 95 hp and 150 Nm. The Neta V is front-wheel drive.

With those output figures, the Neta V won’t be one of those super fast EVs. Indeed, manufacturer figures put 0-50 km/h acceleration at 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 101 km/h, making it a strict city car. Range is 384 km in the NEDC, which typically shows higher numbers than the WLTP standard most carmakers use these days (WLTP range is typically around 20% lower). Not the highest then, but good enough for a city car especially if you have access to EV charging facilities at home.

Speaking of charging, the Neta V has a CCS2 plug and the quoted AC charging time from 0-100% is eight hours. DC fast charging from 30 to 80% SOC takes 30 minutes. A 3,300-watt V2L power output function means that the EV can power your gear.

Theres no way of guessing the size of the Neta V without looking into the spec sheet, as it’s a rather oddly shaped crossover of a car. It’s actually rather small. At 4,070 mm long and 1,690 mm wide, the EV is 95 mm shorter and 40 mm narrower than a Toyota Yaris. It’s 40 mm taller than the B-segment hatch, though. Boot capacity is 335 litres, expandable to 552 litres with the rear seats folded.

Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloys, auto headlamps (halogen projectors), LED DRLs, LED tail lamps, keyless entry with Ride & Go system, 12-inch digital instrument panel, cruise control, electronic parking brake 14.6-inch infotainment touchscreen with reverse camera and six speakers, synthetic leather upholstery and four-way adjustable electric front seats. Only two airbags though, never mind ADAS.

So, the kit list for the single-spec Neta V isn’t very long, but it’s very cheap for a regular sized EV, less than half the price of the base Hyundai Kona Electric, in fact. What do you think – would this EV take off in Malaysia?

GALLERY Neta V, Thai-spec