Changan EV becomes the latest after Ora to stop taking orders for its low-priced hot-selling model as raw material prices continue to rise.

(Image credit: Changan EV)

Changan EV, the electric vehicle (EV) division of Changan Automobile, will suspend taking orders for the Benben E-Star starting July 1, seemingly confirming the huge pressure of rising raw material prices on budget EVs.

The Benben E-Star has been favored by many customers since its launch, but the model is facing long delivery lead times due to upstream raw material shortages and vehicle and parts capacity constraints, Changan EV said in a statement posted on Weibo on Wednesday.

To better serve customers who have already placed orders and to avoid exposing new reservation holders to a long wait, Changan EV has decided to suspend the collection of orders for all Benben E-Star models from July 1 at 0:00, according to the statement.

Changan EV will work to ensure that customers who place orders before July 1 receive delivery as soon as possible, the company said.

Changan EV's website shows the Benben E-Star is available in seven versions with a price range of RMB 29,800 ($4,450) - RMB 74,800.

Although the company said it will suspend orders for the Benben E-Star starting July 1, it is actually no longer accepting orders for its five lower-priced versions, with only versions priced at RMB 69,800 and RMB 74,800 currently available.

The Benben E-Star is one of the competitors to SAIC-GM-Wuling's Hongguang Mini EV, offering similar specifications. It is powered by a permanent magnet synchronous drive motor with a maximum power of 75 hp and both have an NEDC range of 301 km.

From January to May this year, retail sales of the model in China were 41,240 units, up 81.1 percent from 22,770 units in the same period last year, according to data released earlier this month by the China Passenger Car Association.

This puts the Benben EV in sixth place in the January-May new energy sedan sales rankings, ahead of the seventh-place Model 3 at 38,121 units, and the Hongguang Mini EV in first place with 148,855 units.

Although Changan EV's reason for suspending orders is to avoid long waiting time for customers, the essential reason seems to be that such low-priced models are less resilient to rising raw material prices.

At the end of February this year, Great Wall Motor's EV brand Ora stopped taking orders for both the White Cat and Black Cat models in China as raw material prices continued to rise.

"The Black Cat and White Cat models stopped receiving orders, but not being discontinued, we did encounter difficulties," Ora CEO Dong Yudong said in a statement on February 23.

Although Ora has the advantage in the industrial chain, the two models are still causing huge losses for the company. In the case of the Black Cat, for example, the company lost more than 10,000 yuan ($1,580) per unit sold on the model after raw material prices rose sharply in 2022, Dong said.

"I believe the problems the Ora brand is experiencing are the same risks the industry is facing. We are actively seeking ways to improve and develop strategies," Dong said.