Wuling Air EV Coming To China

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The Wuling Mini EV is getting a new brother, the upmarket Wuling Air ev. [Yes, the “ev” part is lower case for this car. Who knows why?] The Wuling Mini EV has been extremely popular in China, outselling every other electric car in the home market. Most of that, of course, is due to the low price. The base model can be purchased for a little more than $5,000. No, you can’t take it on a road trip through the Alps and it would be a poor choice for competing in an electrified version of the Cannonball Run, but if the objective is to get around in a densely crowded city without getting rained on for very little money, it’s the cat’s meow.

Granted, the Wuling Mini EV is basic transportation, but the company, which is a joint venture between SAIC, General Motors, and Wuling, now offers the Wuling Air, which can be had in either a short wheelbase version for 2 passengers or a long wheelbase version with room for 4. In this case, “long wheelbase” is a bit of a misnomer. The space between the front and rear wheels is actually 2 meters (2010 mm). If you think that’s short, consider this: The wheelbase of the short wheelbase car is a minuscule 1.6 meter (1635 mm).

Wuling Air ev
Wuling Air ev 2 passenger. Courtesy of SAIC–GM–Wuling

To put this all in some perspective, the wheelbase of the Hummer EV is 5.5 meters (5512 mm). The average wheelbase of a bicycle is about 1 meter. The Wuling Air ev is truly a diminutive car for limited purposes. It has a 40 horsepower motor (more than the Volkswagen Beetle!) and a top speed of 100 km/h. According to Online EV, the price for the smaller car is $8,630 and the price for the larger car is $10,200.

We know no one in their right mind would buy a microcar like this in the US (/s), but at $10,200 plus a 25% import tax, maybe it would be cheap enough that a few people would decide it would make a great city car? Heck, there are motorcycles (and a few bicycles) that cost more than that! Online EV offers no other details, but the Mini EV is available with a 9.3 kWh, 13.9kWh, or 26 kWh battery, so with the largest battery, the range won’t be paltry.

There is no word whether Lucid is concerned about Wuling stealing the Air model name. There’s an odd sort of serendipity to it being applied to both one of the most expensive and one of the least expensive EVs in the world. The Wuling Air ev is expected to go on sale in the third quarter of this year.

There are no plans to export it that we know of. Still, if the world is waiting for inexpensive electric cars, this could be the answer. It would make a really good second (or third) car for certain use cases. As the price of standard electric cars climbs into the stratosphere, the Wuling Air ev will look attractive to more people who want to drive on electrons but don’t want to mortgage the house to own one. It could be the yin to the Hummer EV’s yang!

Wuling Air ev
Wuling Air ev rear view. Courtesy of SAIC–GM–Wuling

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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