A Chinese minitruck found itself trending on the popular social media platform, WeChat, last week. The truck’s market debut under the Wuling brand coincided with the Shanghai government’s decision to lift stall and vendor bans in the city.
The minitruck, a light-vehicle joint venture between SAIC-GM and Wuling
Motors, is 4.5m long and costs US$7 812 (558 000 yuan). It was purpose-built to
support the new ”stall economy”, according to SAIC-GM’s official social media
A poor start to 2020 has seen an unprecedented 6.8% retraction in the growth of Asia’s largest economy. Beijing, seeking to steer China back into the sharp growth it had enjoyed pre-Covid-19, has encouraged stall vendors back onto the streets of some of its busiest metropoles.
Stall vendors and make-shift merchants in some of China’s largest cities had been widely eliminated from the cityscape altogether. Since 2005 major Chinese cities have looked to modernise their cities by showcasing high-tech infrastructure and brick and mortar retailers.
However, in the wake of the recent pandemic, the government’s attitude towards street vendors has changed, with growth and job creation now central to China’s priorities.
During a visit to Yantai, in Shandong, Premier Li Keqiang highlighted
street vendors’ role in the Chinese economic bounce-back.
Premier Li commended the city of Chengdu, in Sichuan, as it was reported to have opened 36 000 new vendor stalls and created 100 000 jobs in the process.
The diminutive, 1.5m wide minitruck is narrow enough to navigate the once again bustling streets of cities like Chengdu and Jinan, which have been open to vendors since late May. Its 5.3 square meter cargo space is ample for most of the city’s produce, apparel, and accessory vendors now populating new make-shift markets.
Low-pricing has made the minitruck accessible while its fuel-efficient 6.6l per 100km engine also meets level 6 Euro emission standards.
The Wuling truck is likely to attract interest from China’s BRICSA partners, all of whom have bustling vendor economies.