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Tiny new electric car beats Tesla Model 3, again, in China

Published by
Sophie Vorrath

A new all-electric car that is tiny in both size and price has again outsold the Tesla Model 3 in China on a month-by-month basis, with sales of the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV almost doubling those of Telsa’s hugely popular global best-seller in January 2021.

China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) data has revealed that the Hong Guang Mini EV – the product of a joint venture between Wuling Motors, General Motors and China state-owned automaker SAIC (the owners of the MG brand) – sold 25,778 models in China in January, compared to 13,843 for the Tesla Model 3.

Image: Wuling Motors

This marks the second month in row that the tiny new contender has outsold the Model 3 in China – although the Model 3 remains ahead in sales, overall. As The Driven reported here

, the Hong Guang Mini EV sold 33,000 units in December 2020, compared to the Model 3’s 23,000.

Of course, price has a lot to do with this. The three variants of the Hong Guang Mini are priced between RMB 28,800 ($A5,679.50) and RMB 38,800 ($A7,651.50), while the Model 3 starts at a price of around 249,900 yuan ($A49,316), once local subsidies are factored in.

Nevertheless, the rapid rise of the Hong Guang Mini over such a short period of time – and in the middle of a global pandemic – is impressive.

Image: Wuling Motors

All told, GM says that the Hong Guang Mini sold a cumulative total of 117,000 units in the less than six months since its launch in late July of 2020 to the year’s end, boosting Wuling’s total deliveries by 8.8% to more than 1,092,000 units.

And while it won’t come close to the Model 3 on bells and whistles or even on basic range and charging capabilities, the Hong Guang Mini EV obviously holds major appeal for what must be a vast market of middle and lower-income Chinese drivers keen to switch to electric transport.

So what are the specs? Wuling has described the four-seater hatch-back EV as having a practical “small on the outside, big on the inside” design.

On the outside, the cars measure 2.9 metres long, 1.493 metres wide and 1.6m high, with a 1.9 metre wheelbase – enough to accommodate two 26-inch suitcases or a stroller when the back seats are folded down, Wuling says.

The electric motor generates 13kW of maximum power and 85 Nm of maximum torque, has a top speed of 100km/h and a range of up to 170km on a single charge. It can be charged using a normal 240V outlet.

The EVs are equipped with an intelligent battery management system, as well as low-temperature pre-heating technology and battery insulation and the battery’s functions can be remotely monitored via a smartphone app.

On safety, Wuling says the car’s battery system has been put through “16 rigorous safety tests,” while more than half of the car’s chassis consists of high-strength steel. It also comes with anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and reversing radar. The back seats are equipped with two ISOFIX child safety seat restraint interfaces to cater to young families.

Tesla, meanwhile, is expected to unveil a smaller and slightly cheaper electric vehicle designed in, and for, China in November 2021 at the Guangzhou Auto Show.

As reported on the The Driven, the compact electric car – Dubbed the “Model 2” by Tesla watchers – will be the first locally-designed electric car made at Tesla’s China Design Centre, and will be made at the Shanghai gigafactory.

According to a report from China tech news site sina.com, the new vehicle will be a “hatchback version of the Model 3” and is expected to sell for around 160,000 yuan ($A32,526 converted) and will have a driving range of somewhere between 350-450km driving range.

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