You’d be forgiven for never having heard of the Hong Guang Mini EV before.
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February 25, 2021 2 min read
This story originally appeared on PCMag
Tesla may have the best-selling electric vehicle in the world right now in the form of the Model 3, but in China, a rival is outselling the Model 3 at an almost two-to-one ratio. It’s called the Hong Guang Mini EV, and one of its major selling points is the fact it only costs $4,500 (or $5,000 with air conditioning).
In October last year, Tesla cut the price of the Model 3 in China by 8%, meaning it’s possible to buy one there for as little as $36,805. That’s still over eight times more expensive than the Hong Guang Mini EV, though. But there are, of course, many tradeoffs for such a low price point.
The Mini EV uses a 9.2kWh battery offering a range of just 75 miles (120km) and relies on a single electric motor capable of 17.4 horsepower and a top speed of 62mph (100km/h). It can seat four people, but I doubt you’d want to attempt that for a long journey based on how small the Mini EV is. The tiny car is manufactured by state-owned company SAIC Motor as part of a joint venture with General Motors (GM) and known locally as Wuling.
As the BBC reports, the Mini EV is proving very popular in China not only because of the low price, but because of the one big (convenient) incentive the Chinese government offers. It can apparently take years to get a license plate for gas-powered vehicles in the country, but the government guarantees a free license plate with every electric vehicle purchase.
So how popular is the Mini EV? Not only is it now outselling the Model 3 by almost double, it was the second best-selling electric vehicle in the world last year, ahead of the Renault Zoe and Tesla Model Y. The Model 3 still retains a huge lead, but Elon Musk may be concerned to hear that the Mini EV is set to be offered in other markets soon.