First electric Chinese SUV for our market due next year: a small crossover to rival the Kona Electric.

MG Motor’s Australian factory distributor has confirmed it will launch a fully electric version of its increasingly popular petrol-fired ZS small SUV during the course of 2020.

The Mazda CX-3-sized MG eZS will give the company a rival for the just-launched Hyundai Kona Electric, the Hyundai Ioniq, and the Nissan Leaf in Australia’s fledgling EV market. It will be China’s first EV in Australia, and should be a bit of a marketing coup.

The eZS has a 110kW/350Nm electric motor, powered by a 45.6kWh lithium battery pack, with a claimed NEDC driving range of 335km. That’s about 50 per cent less than the long-range Hyundai Kona with its larger 64kWh battery capacity, but thereabouts with the Leaf.

MG’s city-focused crossover has an AC charging time of six hours but more importantly can be charged from empty to 80% on a DC fast charger in 30 minutes. It also sprints from 0-50km/h in 3.1 seconds.

We don’t know what it will cost in Australia yet, though its smaller battery capacity should see it well and truly undercut the $59,990 Kona, given every extra kWh adds about $US250 to the package. We’d hope it could give the $40,000 mark a nudge, undercutting the Ioniq too.

MG’s parent company is largely government-owned SAIC, based in Shanghai. This monolithic organisation sold more than seven-million cars in 2018 around the world, between its joint-venture Volkswagen and GM product and its MG, Roewe and LDV/Maxus brands.

It also sold 140,000 ‘NEVs’ (electrified vehicles) last year and is at the cutting edge of automotive 5G integration. It’s worth remembering that China is the world’s biggest electric car market, and in this space is quite formidable.

There appear to be two equipment grades in the eZS, the Com and Lux. Both have an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and AEB. The Lux has leather seats and a sunroof.

Bringing a fully electric version of the ZS to the ANZ (Australia and New Zealand) is a natural step,” said MG Motor Australia’s CEO Peter Cao.

“New energy is an important area of exploration in ANZ and we’re inspired to see the continued innovation emerging from the global SAIC technical centre of excellence.”

MG Australia is chugging along nicely, up 500% on last year across Q1 in 2019, with 32 dealers nationwide.

In January 2019 it sold 503 cars, up 10-fold over the same month in 2018. For context, that means it outsold more established marques like Land Rover (458), Volvo (431), Skoda (408), Jeep (375), Mini (328) and Peugeot/Citroen (185 combined).

This was no outlier, really. In 2018 MG sold an impressive 3007 vehicles for the year, up 400 per cent. It beat Peugeot (2838) and Fiat (2412), and came pretty close to knocking off fellow formerly-British-brand Mini (3590).