A small, unassuming electric
vehicle (EV) from Chinese motoring firm, SAIC, is outselling Elon Musk’s
money-printing machine, the Tesla Model 3, in China.
The Hong Guang Mini EV, a joint venture between state-owned SAIC and US motoring giant General Motors, has sold more than 110 000 times units its debut in July.
Described as a ”commuting tool”, the Hong Guang Mini EV is powered by a compact 20Kw engine and has a top speed of around 100km/h, according to Inside EVs.
The micro-car is available with 9.3Kw/h
and a 13.9Kw/h battery options which have ranges of 120km and 170km
respectively. The moniker of ‘Mini’ is well chosen – the standard Mini EV is
under three meters long. While the EV is billed as a compact 2-door, it is
equipped with four seats.
According to Nikkei Asia, 112 000 Mini EVs have been sold since its launch in July, beating the Tesla Model 3 for the top spot in China and making it the second best selling EV globally.
Alan Kang, an analyst at the British research institute LMC automotive, believes the Mini EV’s low cost and modern design is winning over buyers.
The Tesla rival uses a basic battery system which makes the car more affordable than most of its counterparts.
The standard model is sold on
showroom floors for around $4 500 and $5 000 with air conditioning whereas the
Tesla Model 3 sells for nearly $35 000.
Kang said the EV sold particularly well in the Shandong and Henan regions. Small vehicles that can be operated without a licence are popular in those regions and many prospective customers are trading up to the Hong Guang EV, according to Chinese state media.
Most of China’s major EV players are experiencing increased sales. Great Wall Motors’ sales increased by 45% last year thanks in large part to the success of its Ora R1 EV, another ‘cute’ and affordable city car.
Beijing has played a significant role in the widespread adoption of EVs in recent years.
While the world battled with the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent fallout, the Chinese government implemented policies that expedited the transition from fossil fuel-based commuting to new energy vehicles.
The city of Lizhou, which also
serves as headquarters for the Wuling brand, distributed vouchers covering
electricity costs for new buyers.
A Latvian automaker is partnering with Hong Guang to introduce the Mini EV to European roads, the BBC reported. The report did not say when the potential partnership would be formalised but did say that the price tag would likely climb due to more rigid environmental standards.