No wonder it's selling like hot cakes on a cold winter day.
It’s thought that around 1.2 million EVs were sold in China last year. That’s more than half of all electric car sales on Earth. And Beijing authorities have ambitions for 25 percent of all car sales in China to be electrics by 2025.
A great winner from this surge is Tesla. It’s Model 3 is highly popular and they reportedly sold 120,000 vehicles in the country last year. They’ve also recently started selling the Model Y there, showing their commitment to the communist state. The Tesla is, of course, a premium priced vehicle beyond the reach of most people. Indeed, in the western world, the EV market is almost entirely populated by expensive models. That's crazy, surely?
In China, you can also buy an extraordinarily cheap EV too. No wonder it's selling like hot cakes on a cold winter day.
Taking the first prize for popularity is the Wuling Hong Guang Mini. It’s a cute looking small box-shaped hatchback. It took less than a year to design, build and start manufacturing from scratch. And you can tell. However, it costs only a mere $4,200 (about £3,000) - vastly below the price of any other electric car on Earth. But it still comes with anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitoring, rear parking sensors, air conditioning, power windows and a great audio system.
But, though that’s fantastic, there are some drawbacks with this thrift. The Mini EV doesn’t pack much of a punch. A measly 17 horsepower is all you’ll have - giving a top speed of 62mph. And the battery size is minuscule at around 14kwh. The good news is it won’t take long to charge up, which you’ll be doing a lot because it only produces a range of around 106 miles.
Despite this, in its first three months on sale, the Mini EV sold over 55,000 units in China. Apparently, the factory can’t fill the orders fast enough. Surely they’re doing something right? And surely, this combination of speed, mileage per charge and price clearly demonstrates a huge market potential everywhere? Not everyone wants, or can afford, a luxury EV.
It’s unknown whether the rest of the world will be graced by the Mini EV. But it would not be surprising if it was. Whereas in the past, China’s cars stayed in China, it increasingly looks like that won’t always be the case. In just one example, Chinese automaker BYD has started selling their electric crossovers to business customers internationally. In terms of size, they currently sell more cars than Tesla.
Perhaps once Chinese manufacturers exhaust their private markets they will turn to the global economy more. In the interim, there is something Western producers can learn from their success.
China obviously has some serious issues around its manufacturing practices, politics and human rights. But the producers of the Mini EV show you can make a very cheap economical electric car. And if that inspires other car companies to cut prices, that’s good news.
The electric vehicle market has literally exploded globally in recent years but it's still a miniscule percentage of total vehicle stock on the roads today. However, things are changing rapidly. More...