Quick, what is the cheapest car you can buy brand new in the U.S. right now? Take that, subtract about $10,000 and you’ll arrive at this almost unbelievably cheap electric car. Meet the Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV — a car that costs just $4,200 in its most basic form. In this video, Tommy goes through all the details on what is China’s cheapest electric model.
Not only is it one of the world’s cheapest EVs, it’s one of the world’s cheapest cars.
SGMW, which is GM’s joint venture with Chinese partners SAIC Motor Corp (the company behind the revived British MG brand) and Guangxi Automobile Group. The car originally launched back in July, and is aimed to bring electric transportation to the Chinese masses. It travels less than 125 miles between charges — so think of it as a Chinese sort of Smart EV — but again at a price tag equaling just over $4,000.
For that money, don’t expect much in the way of equipment. There are no airbags, and there’s no standard air conditioning. You can get the latter (as shown above), but doing so adds to the bottom-line cost. GM does say more than half the car’s body consists of high-strength steel and it does have anti-lock brakes, as well as two ISOFIX child safety seat restraints in the back seats, so there’s that. And yes, this car does have back seats.
15,000 Hong Guang MINI EVs sold in August
At such a low price tag, SGMW apparently has no issue shifting these cars to Chinese customers. The company aims these vehicles at young buyers looking for cheap wheels, or those who want a second city runabout or something small to move goods around. The Chinese government does subsidize electric vehicles with higher energy-density battery systems. The Wuling MINI EV doesn’t qualify due to its short range, but thanks to its low price it manages to outsell the Tesla Model 3 in China.
At the equivalent of $43,000, the Model 3 runs about 10 times as much as this tiny little runabout, so its relatively strong selling status makes sense. It also nets GM a larger foothold in the Chinese market — a key demographic to nearly all manufacturers as competition heats up.
Now, if you’re like Tommy and think the Hong Guang MINI EV is brilliant, there is some bad news. Obviously, thanks to its lack of safety equipment it’s not coming stateside. Still, we should have our own growing range of EVs to choose from in the coming years. Better yet, more competition and better battery technology should bring prices down in the coming years.