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Images courtesy of Wuling

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The Wuling Air Is Going Global!

One of the first real mass market sub-$5,000 cars, the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV, has been a huge success in China. It has been the top selling electric vehicle in China for a while now and in some months it has actually been the top selling car. It has been so successful that it has created a totally new market in China. The Mini EV is very popular in the 3rd tier Chinese cities and is enabling people who would not have been able to afford a car to now be in a position to get a decent affordable vehicle. Starting at just $4,200, the Mini EV’s appeal to non-consumers or the market not traditionally targeted by automakers has a real potential to disrupt the auto industry.

The SAIC, General Motors, and Wuling partnership is planning to produce at least 1 million of these Mini EVs a year. The success of the Hong Guang Mini EV shows that there is a huge market for these basic EVs. This has led to a plethora of new vehicles in this class being announced or launched by other Chinese automakers. One of these new models is the Chery QQ Ice Cream. You just have to love the names Chinese automakers give to these models. The Chery QQ Ice Cream has three flavors (models). These are the Pudding, Cone, and the Sundae. Who doesn’t like ice cream? I will have a Sundae, please!

As the originator in this space, or rather, the company that made these types  of small, affordable city EVs famous, Wuling has to keep iterating and improve its vehicle’s value proposition to stay ahead of the growing competition. The SAIC, GM, & Wuling partnership has developed several remixes of the smash hit mini EV. This includes the trendy refreshed Macaron edition. The Macaron edition comes in three fashionable colors: Avocado Green, Lemon Yellow, and White Peach Pink. An optional solid-color roof is also available. The HongGuang Mini EV Macaron also received additional safety features through a standard driver air bag along with the anti-lock braking system with electronic brake force distribution, tire pressure monitoring system, low-speed pedestrian warning system, and other functions. The car is equipped with a back-up camera and reverse parking sensors as well. The blockbuster Mini EV also got another upgrade that will give it a slightly longer wheelbase, a 26 kWh battery — up from the 9.2 kWh and 13.8 kWh in the current models. It is also getting a more powerful electric motor upgraded to 30 kW from the previous 20 kW. The Mini EV even has a cabriolet version.

A lot of people have been asking when the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV or similar vehicle would go global. This could be a reality sooner rather than later. A more upmarket version of the Wuling EV, the Wuling Air, is set to go global. Wuling Air, an electric vehicle that GM’s joint venture SAIC-GM-Wuling (SGMW) plans to leverage to tap the global market, made its global debut in Jakarta, Indonesia, last week. Developed on the Global Small Electric Vehicle (GSEV) platform, Wuling Air will start sales in the second half of this year. It will be the first EV model that SGMW sells outside of China. The Wuling Air has also been selected as the official car partner for the 2022 G20 Summit to be held in Indonesia this November.

The Wuling Air will have two options for the electric motor, rated at 30 kW and 50 kW, and battery packs of either 26.5 or 28.4 kWh, and the Wuling Air will also be built at the Cikarang plant in Bekasi, West Java. Its introduction into the Indonesian market is good news for the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV fans in several parts of the world such as New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom, as this means it will also have a right-hand drive model. Will this Wuling Air be launched in those markets? Let’s wait and see. This is also awesome news for us here in East and Southern Africa where we also drive on the left. This means in the not to distant future, we could see informal/grey imports of right-hand drive versions of these types of small city EVs which would land in this part of the world at a price point many can afford. It would be even better if Wuling is eyeing the African market as well as one of the markets for this Air EV. This would increase the number of options of affordable brand new vehicles and play a huge role in catalyzing the adoption of electric vehicles.

Images courtesy of Wuling

 
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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.

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