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Chinese carmarker Dongfeng launches the Mengshi electric vehicle 4×4

Another day, another EV but this time it looks like a serious offroader, or at least an attempt at one.

Dongfeng is China’s third-largest of four state-owned carmakers, and it’s launched a new sub-brand called Mengshi which is all about offroading, or at least Military, Man, Marvelous and Mission. Yes, that’s typical Chinese-to-English translation going on there.

Anyway, according to CarNewsChina, Dongfeng has launched the M-Terrain SUV and M-Terrain S (pickup/ute) electric vehicles. There are some notable specs; 140kWh battery with a claimed 500km range which isn’t noted as WLTP, but seems maybe a little low – but then again, the designers appeared to give zero consideration to aerodynamics and the concept car does run mud tyres which also appear to be impractically low-profile. I’m also unimpressed with the cargo room at the back, but as this is a ground-up EV not a re-powered ICE vehicle, I would expect there to be a capacious frunk at the front for extra storage. The vehicle specs sheets say it is 5.2m long.

Total power is said to be 800kW with a 0-100km/h time of 4.6 seconds. This to me is a waste of resources, even if it’s nice to have. However, there are apparently four motors…so…INDIVIDUAL WHEEL DRIVE! Check out the video below for how cool that is!

CNC also report there are three differential locks; two cross-axle and one centre which is virtual. This sort of makes sense. With an EV there’s no mechanical connection between front and rear axles, the two are kept in sync by software, so I guess that’s the “virtual” lock. I’m not convinced that two motors for each wheel on an axle actually needs a lock, but you could sort of sync the two so there’s a virtual lock too, or implement a mechanical lock. It’d be interesting to discuss that with their engineers.

The vehicle does have four-wheel steering though, and there is a winch mount visible in a video shot. Suspension is independent air-height-adjustable all round (seems like +105mm raise?) – you don’t find live-axled EVs as you typically want to put the motors between the wheels on an axle, as Ford did with the F-150.

The image below shows a classic EV ‘skateboard’ – central, low battery pack, independent suspension, 4 motors.

Here’s the ute version, same platform:

Will anything come of this? Maybe, maybe not…GWM are doing well with their Ute in Australia, and there’s lots of people queued up for the BYD Atto. So, Chinese cars are gaining acceptance. However, that’s cars, the idea of a Chinese EV 4X4 is another matter. Check out the below for reasons why EVs aren’t going to take over.

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  • by Robert
    Posted 7 September 2022 17:31 0Likes

    Robert, an excellent video and very interesting, thank you.
    I wonder if we could have an internal combustion engine driving a generator, in turn driving the four electric wheels. I guess that would be much like a diesel-electric train. The advantage might be in the simplicity – no clutch, gearbox, differentials, etc. The ICE could be of a simpler design too, as it could be optimised to run at a limited range of revs. Add a smallish battery to take any excess power from the generator, and also sometimes run the electric engines or supplement the generator output whenever it was needed.

    • Avatar photo
      by Robert Pepper
      Posted 7 September 2022 17:34 0Likes

      Agreed, that’s a potential…but I feel the age of the hybrid has passed and we’re now into full electric cars.

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