Author: Xiao Dong
On the night of February 14th, 2023, Xiao Dong spent the night vigorously writing in a hotel in Yunnan…
Valentine’s night? No, a night of writing. Hhh… Anyway, yesterday I spent the whole day experiencing the Hechuang A06 in Mile. The Hechuang A06 was officially launched at the end of 2022, so there’s no suspense about the price, configuration, and appearance. However, while dozing off on the way back from test driving today, I seemed to feel that there might be some surprises for the A06 this year.
What surprised me even more was that when I returned to the hotel, there was a deep blue SL03 parked nearby. As someone who loves cars, how could I let a car go untested? The price ranges of the two cars overlap somewhat, so I’d like to talk about my feelings about these two cars.
The “Storm” caused by the seats
Today, I tested the 630C version of the A06, which is priced at CNY 199,800, while the SL03, a pure electric powered car, is priced at CNY 189,900, only CNY 9,900 cheaper than the A06. From the numbers “515” and “630,” which represent battery capacity, it’s certain that the two cars have some differences. “The A06 uses a 71-degree battery pack, which consumes about 18-20 kWh at a cruise speed of 120 km/h when fully loaded with four people and about 15 kWh on urban roads.” The SL03 is equipped with a 58-degree battery pack, and the test drive time was not long enough to give specific data about energy consumption.
Both cars’ battery pack suppliers, including CATL, are the same. If we exclude the price difference of the battery pack, the A06 would be more affordable. However, the SL03 surprisingly comes with an AR-HUD, but the effect is…
In terms of price range, the two cars are almost the same.
In addition to the even price, the legroom of the back seat is about two fists and the headroom is almost one fist, making the performance of the back space of the two cars identical. The difference lies in the seats, with the SL03’s rear seat cushions having a greater tilt angle, but its platform is slightly higher, while the A06 is the opposite.
The same goes for the front seats of both cars, but the styles are quite different. The A06 seats resemble racing seats, while the SL03 seats look much more comfortable. However, the softness and hardness of the two car seats are in line with their respective styling.
You can’t judge a person by their appearance, nor a car by its seat.
The A06 seats look sporty, and the SL03 seats look comfortable, but the powertrain says you got it wrong. The A06 (630C) uses a motor with a peak power of 160 kW, while the SL03 (515) uses a motor with a peak power of 190 kW. However, let’s look at the next level. The four-wheel drive version of the A06 has a dual-motor peak power of 340 kW, with no change in the battery, but with enhanced power. The 705 version of the SL03 has a larger battery and a reduced motor peak power of 160 kW to ensure range.
Hey, did you two really understand each other when designing these cars? These two seats fit better on the high-end models.
In addition to power, the tuning style of the two car chassis is also similar to their seats. In terms of hardware, both use a combination of front MacPherson and rear five-link suspension, with A06 adjusted to be harder and SL03 adjusted to be softer. In fact, it’s not difficult to understand that the two cars had completely different understandings of the user profile at the beginning of the project. However, the common point is that their performance on bad roads is similar. It can only be said that it is difficult for Chinese pure electric vehicles to develop a good chassis in the price range below 200,000 yuan under the high pressure of battery costs.
Of course, this cannot solely be attributed to battery costs. The demand for good chassis amongst most Chinese consumers is far lower than the demand for an additional screen. From seat styling to exterior design, it’s quite a sight. The front of the SL03 looks much more aggressive and visually interesting, while the A06 appears somewhat delicate. ![SL03](https://42how-com.oss-cn-beijing.aliyuncs.com/article/image_20230216172008.png) ![A06](https://42how-com.oss-cn-beijing.aliyuncs.com/article/image_20230216171912.png) The rear of the SL03 is a bit too aggressive, trying too hard to maintain consistency. I do quite like the tail of the A06, especially the moment the brake lights turn on. ![SL03](https://42how-com.oss-cn-beijing.aliyuncs.com/article/image_20230216172031.png) ![A06](https://42how-com.oss-cn-beijing.aliyuncs.com/article/image_20230216172049.png) Despite these dramatic differences in design, **both of these cars are equipped with Jiatong P10 series tires, which isn’t ideal for road noise...** ![Tires](https://42how-com.oss-cn-beijing.aliyuncs.com/article/image_20230216172118.png) On the interior, both cars feature a dual-screen layout (instrument panel + central display), with a 14.6-inch central display; even the narrow bezel design appears to be from the same supplier – I have reason to suspect they use the same vendor. The A06 “wins” in terms of display size, with a 10.25” > 10.2” measurement. In terms of material, both cars feature faux leather materials, with almost identical coverage. ![Interior](https://42how-com.oss-cn-beijing.aliyuncs.com/article/image_20230216172138.png)
!(https://42how-com.oss-cn-beijing.aliyuncs.com/article/image_20230216172157.png) The key point of this battle has come, the steering wheel. The steering wheel of SL03 is the spoiler, the airbag area is combined with the multi-function button, and the sense of luxury created by the embracing cockpit is instantly reduced by half. The last time I saw this scene was on the Byton R7, and such a design will more or less affect the grip feeling. The three-spoke steering wheel of A06 can be integrated into the cockpit, but the middle of the multimedia control button on the right is MODE, which is used to switch between Bluetooth music, online music, and radio. This design still needs to be accustomed to it, after all, the volume control of the three audios is different, and the volume will suddenly change after an inadvertent touch. !(https://42how-com.oss-cn-beijing.aliyuncs.com/article/image_20230216172225.png) The styles of the two central control areas are completely different. SL03 adopts a design of wireless charging + two misaligned cup holders. Actually, I don't understand what the area next to the cup holder is for~ !(https://42how-com.oss-cn-beijing.aliyuncs.com/article/image_20230216172253.png) A06 adopts a 15W wireless charging, emphasizing "one", and the same as the Xiaopeng G9~ Behind it are two cup holder areas, among which the cover plate on the cup holder impressed me deeply. I remember when experiencing A06 statically last year, I told the staff about this cover plate. At that time, it was completely un-damped and easily popped open. I felt too cheap. This time, the damping feeling was full, and a praise was given. !(https://42how-com.oss-cn-beijing.aliyuncs.com/article/image_20230216172314.png) The two cars are almost identical in hardware and materials, but from the experience of two cars at the same price on the same day, I have a deeper perception of the fierce competition in the 150,000-200,000 pure electric vehicle market, and the cost control can be said to be extreme. Hardly any new tricks can be played. As a new force, Deep Blue as a new brand of traditional manufacturers, both are undoubtedly willing to lower their gross profit margins to gain market recognition. Deep Blue has unparalleled advantages in channels and supply chain. At the same time, JMC has also lit up a branch on the technology tree.
▎How intelligent are cars in the 150-200,000 yuan range?
Both A06 and SL03 are the latest works in 2022, and the 8155 cockpit chip is bound to be standard. There is no problem with the smoothness of both car machines, but the style of the car machine UI are different.
The SL03 car machine UI adopts a left card-style layout, right map navigation, and a Dock bar at the bottom. This layout is somewhat sparse and ordinary in today’s standards, and the overall UI style and icon are mediocre.
The car machine UI of A06 is similar to the Hongmeng cockpit-style layout, which combines background, card-style, and Dock bar. From a visual perspective, the UI of A06 is more vivid, but the icon is not clear enough.
The considerations of these two cars from the user’s perspective are different. Taking the Dock bar as an example, the leftmost of A06 is the defogging and temperature settings, while SL03 is the homepage and car control settings. From my personal perspective, A06’s interaction logic is more reasonable, and A06 has a small detail that the temperature control can be long-pressed and slid to reduce the number of interaction steps.
A surprising point about SL03 is that some settings and third-party apps are placed in the negative screen that can be pulled down. Quick control requires swiping from the left side of the screen, and the design intention is to make the operation convenient for the driver, but there is no reminder to go with it. It is also easy to cause mis-touch when turned on, and perhaps iterative interaction methods like sliding with two fingers can be considered. The negative screen of A06 looks much more comfortable, but the functionality is slightly inadequate. The two functions of dashboard screenshot and main screen screenshot are the first time I have seen them, and I don’t quite understand their application scenarios.
The interaction design of both cars insists on reducing user interaction levels as much as possible. The maximum number of interaction levels is no more than three. However, all options in A06 shortcut controls can be customized by users, and even the page of driving mode can be edited. The only issue is that the driving mode page is a bit too flashy!
Actually, the OS of the two car infotainment systems already shows very obvious differences. The A06 infotainment system team focuses more on personalization and completely independently designed the cockpit, which has outstanding personalization and stronger aesthetics, but there is a little lack of overall thinking. The SL03 follows a more conventional path, which seems to be inevitable for a deep blue enterprise. To be honest, this is a bit of a shame.
The visualization of ADAS can make the differences between the two cars more evident. The visualization of SL03’s ADAS interface seems to go back to a few years ago, consisting only of the simplest vehicle model and route. Of course, there are quite a few laggards in this regard, such as my own smart car.
The visualization of ADAS in A06 seems to be saying “I am a new force carmaker.” The more delicate vehicle model and more information, such as the information of two oncoming vehicles, one bicycle, barrier cones and zebra crossings in the figure all appear very clear. Ultimately, this is a strategic issue for automakers. SL03 obviously adopts a whole set of supplier solutions, while A06 cooperates with suppliers to collaborate and innovate.
I have always believed that visualization plays a crucial role in intelligent driving. At least for now, it is essential to build trust with users while using assisted driving.
Speaking of the actual performance of the assisted driving of two cars, both A06 and SL03 have excellent longitudinal keeping capabilities with gentle acceleration and deceleration. They are very experienced drivers as they can easily stop smoothly when faced with a stationary vehicle at low to medium speeds (60 km/h). However, during this test drive, both cars did not encounter any situation of cutting in or traffic jams, so it is not clear how they would perform under different conditions.
The lane centering performance was not experienced by SL03 on the highway. On ordinary roads, it occasionally deviated substantially from the lane, which may be due to unclear lane markings. A06, on the other hand, had a 100 km long-distance experience and could completely stay in the middle of the lane, but the steering wheel needed frequent minor adjustments. What impressed me was A06’s ability to switch lanes after signalling, starting 1-2 seconds later. The lane changing process was smooth with a high success rate. SL03 did not have this function as a standard accessory, so I did not experience it.
In terms of the smart driving experience of both car cabins and assisted driving, as a new force brand in the industry, Hechuang is more committed to intelligent development, with lower test costs and more flexible internal mechanisms for R&D personnel. Shenzhen Deep Blue Technology Co., Ltd., as a new brand of traditional automakers, also values intelligent development which is of equal importance. However, for Deep Blue, it is necessary to incrementally enhance and optimize their performance results to achieve its objectives.
After the tests of Hechuang’s A06 and Shenzhen Deep Blue Technology Co. Ltd’s SL03, there are many insights worth noting.
This is another collision between a new force brand and a traditional automaker, but it is different from the time of Weimarli two years ago. Are new force brands making faster progress in vehicle engineering, channel construction, and supply chain establishment in pursuit of traditional brands, or are traditional brands making faster progress in intelligence and innovation?
If we look back today, Weimarli’s second-generation model has rapidly approached those of older manufacturers in terms of control, chassis, and vehicle engineering capabilities, while traditional brands are catching up in intelligence, where Feifan and Avita have surpassed Weimarli in the car entertainment system and even in high-end intelligent driving. As for the answer to this question, the scale seems to be tilting towards the middle.Underneath these brands, a new wave of forces and traditional car manufacturers have embarked on a new journey. However, this time, they face greater pressure, more segmented markets, and more rational consumers.
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email email@example.com.