The Wuling Hongguang: the most popular EV in China

I like to look at news websites from other countries to try to counter my Teddingtono-centric view of the world.

My favourite foreign news website is Deutche Welle – its measured tones are a pleasing counterpoint to the BBC news website. But I also find the China Daily propaganda site interesting.

I call it a propaganda site rather than a news site because that’s what it is. It never contains anything which could be construed as negative about China and only contains negative stories about the West. However much the Chinese Communist Party would like to pretend otherwise, China is not a normal country.

Nonetheless, one can learn a great deal by seeing how they portray things. And their articles can also help to place a Teddingtono-centric view into a wider perspective. They rarely have stories about Teddington.

Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are the future of transportation. And China is the world’s largest market for EVs.

But as I understand it, in Beijing at least, one cannot simply buy a car. Instead, one enters into a lottery where the prize is permission to buy a car. The chance of winning permission to buy a car with an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) is incredibly low, but the chance of winning permission to buy an EV is much higher.

With that in mind, an article caught my eye in the China Daily lauding the achievements the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV.

A mini-sized model from Chinese brand Wuling, the Hong Guang Mini EV, toppled Tesla’s Model 3 as the world’s best-selling electric car in January, with deliveries exceeding 36,000 in the month, more than those of the Model 3 and Model Y combined.

The BBC reported on this too.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

The car is very basic – its battery (9.2 kWh or 13.8 kWh) is typically just 20% the size of the batteries in EV’s on sale in the UK. Its range (~120 km or 170 km) is small, but perfectly adequate for a day of city driving. But its most shocking statistic is its cost: $4,200.

In contrast, the Tesla models it displaced as best sellers cost more than $30,000.

Why is this important?

The very existence of any car at that price has to be a manifestation of engineering fundamentals. In this case EVs are technically simpler to make than conventional cars.

So why are EVs in the UK (and Europe and the US) currently so expensive?

Well I don’t know, but I would guess it is a classical supply and demand situation – with supply severely limited. One bottleneck is the rate at which batteries can be made. Logically existing manufacturers want to put the limited numbers of batteries available into expensive cars. But that shortage won’t last for ever and the price of batteries is falling year on year.

And – batteries excepted – the simplicity of manufacture and assembly of the cars is such that China Daily asserts:

… Wuling does not see itself as a car manufacturer anymore. It aspires to become a creative, popular and boundary-free lifestyle brand.

The reason I am writing this is because it struck me that the Wuling Hongguang looked like it might be the 21st Century equivalent of The Mini. A cheap unpretentious way to get about.

If a basic EV similar to the Hongguang were sold in the UK for (say) £5,000 to £10,000, I think it would be wildly popular. And I suspect that time is coming.

As other people have speculated, the death of the ICE car may come sooner than anyone expects.

One Response to “The Wuling Hongguang: the most popular EV in China”

  1. Gordon Says:

    Hi Michael

    Re. electric cars, Which? has an informative article this month on the current shambles of electric charging points



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