GM has brought Hummer back to life as a larger-than-life electric SUV brand, and Dongfeng is looking to perform a similar act with Mengshi.
With a market as large and crowded as China’s, local automakers are always looking for ways to stand out. And that usually involves launching a new brand targeted at a particular niche — just see example of Geely with Zeekr, Geometry, and Radar, not to mention its discontinued Gleagle, Shanghai Maple, Englon and Emgrand marques.
Dongfeng’s latest gambit is Mengshi, but this new brand actually has a long history.
The automaker first used the Mengshi name on a licensed version of the original Hummer. Subsequent models for the sub-brand have been designed in-house, and most were military-focussed vehicles sporting plenty of armour, weaponry, and advanced tech that might be used on a battlefield or danger zone.
For its new life as a standalone brand, Mengshi is ditching Dongfeng’s logo for an aggressive M badge that looks, at least to this writer, like a hunched over, angry man.
The automaker says the M stands for military, man, marvelous, mission, and mengshi (warrior), so the company is clearly playing the testosterone card.
Mengshi’s civilian vehicles will all use the new MORA skateboard platform, which supports pure electric vehicles, as well as extended-range EVs, where an internal-combustion engine is used to recharge the battery pack.
In its presentation the company said the architecture can be used as the basis for SUVs and pickup trucks, supports advanced self-driving technology, and can be equipped with a crab-crawling mode.
The Chinese manufacturer says the most powerful variants in Mengshi lineup will have a “mega power” setup with four electric motors making a total of 1000kW, and a 0-100km/h time of 4.2 seconds.
To give a taster for the new marque, Dongfeng brought two Mengshi concepts to Chengdu, both of which will reportedly enter production in 2023.
Both feature plenty of sharp edges, and many contrasting surfaces heading off at interesting angles, as well as lots of cladding, military-inspired details, and off-road gear.
The five-door M-Terrain is the more practical of the two, and includes a set of stairs to access the roof, a tailgate-mounted spare wheel carrier, and spotlights on the roof.
At first glance the M-Terrain S looks like a three-door coupe SUV, but the rear canopy can actually be removed to reveal a ute tray.
Although Dongfeng has yet to provide official drivetrain details for the two M-Terrain models, leaked specs published by Car News China state the pure electric variant will have 800kW at its disposal, a 140kWh battery pack for a driving range of 500km, and a 0-100km/h time of under five seconds.
The range extended model makes do with just 600kW. While it has a smaller 66kWh battery, total range from a full tank of petrol and fully charged battery is said to be 800km. The 0-100km/h time is a tad slower at under six seconds.
Overall length for both the Mengshi M-Terrain and M-Terrain S is said to be 5.2 metres.