Meet The $4,460 EV Some Are Saying Could Dethrone Tesla In China

Meet The $4,460 EV Some Are Saying Could Dethrone Tesla In China 


It's an unlikely adversary, but SAIC-GM-Wuling's new $4,460 EV could wind up being a Tesla-killer in China.

At least that was the take from Nikkei, who profiled the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV and called it a car that was "quickly" winning over drivers in China. The car is marketed as a utilitarian "commuting tool". It measures less than 3 meters long and 1.5 meters wide, yet it can still hold four people (and it's still probably more comfortable than the third row in a Model Y). 

The price starts at 28,800 yuan, or about $4,460. A model with air conditioning sells for $5,000. "If you make a 13,000 yuan down payment, the rest will be interest-free," a salesman told Nikkei. 

While it can't meet Tesla's range or performance, it is convenient and is priced well, making it one of China's best selling new EVs. It has been a win for SAIC Motor, which holds a majority stake in SAIC-GM-Wuling. 

The car is called "the people's commuting tool," and can go 120 km on a full charge, at up to 100 kph. It can be charged from a standard outlet. "Consumers give high marks to its low cost and its design," auto analyst Alan Kang said. "It's sold especially well in Henan and Shandong provinces."

The EV can be operated without a license, but cannot be driven on highways. But that has just increased its embrace in third tier cities, where more than 60% of its sales take place. 

Wuling also says it plans on selling its Hong Guang Mini outside of China eventually. It has already "partnered with a Latvian automaker to sell a version of the car in Europe," according to Nikkei. 

"There was a lot of support from consumers whose incomes fell due to the coronavirus," one dealer said. "Purchases from the middle class have grown due to the pent-up urge to spend from being unable to go on vacation overseas," an industry source said. 

One thing is for certain: there is no lack of EV competition in China:

Nio has more than doubled its unit sales, putting the company eighth in new-energy vehicle sales last year, up from 13th place. Li Auto multiplied its unit sales 25 times to reach 10th place.

Altogether, China's five largest EV startups, including WM Motor and Xpeng, expanded unit sales by 150% last year.

And while Tesla has tripled sales in China over the last year, we have documented signs that the fairy tale between Elon Musk and the Chinese government could very well be coming to an end.


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