Hybrids & Electrics

How Come GM Makes These Cheap Hong Guang EV Only For China?

MotorBiscuit has told you about the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV before. The Hong Guang EV is not available in the US, which is a shame. It makes the news here in the US because it is the best-selling EV in China. It’s selling twice as many as Tesla sells Model 3s. 

“Well yeah, the Hong Guang sells well because it’s cheap”

Whuling Hong Guang Mini EV Cabrio
Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV Cabrio | GM

You’re going to say, “Well yeah, it sells well because it’s cheap.” And you would be right. But that is just as legit a segment as a big, ‘ol S-Class Mercedes is. Or a pickup truck. The small EVs that have been in the US for years tend to be not for highway use. They’re normally seen at golf courses or schools to carry small loads of this or that. 

But this small EV segment doesn’t exist. A cheap, almost throw-away EV for short jaunts or maybe across-town travel. There is a demand for that-especially priced under $5,000 like the Hong Guang EV. And don’t forget this seats four people.

But what has our attention now is this convertible. Called the “Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV Cabrio” the name is longer than the car itself. Or we should say concept car because this is not a production car. Yet. The Chinese site Autohome says it is headed for production. 

While it is a bit unclear from the wording (sorry we don’t speak Chinese) we know that at least the concept will arrive at the Shanghai Auto Show next week. Whether it appears as a concept or as an example of what the production car will look like is what’s not clear. We are hoping for the latter.

Wuling produces vehicles in concert with General Motors

Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV Cabrio
Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV Cabrio | GM

The thing with Wuling is that it is producing vehicles in concert with General Motors. So GM is partly behind anything like this. So, with the US connection, it doesn’t need to be developed in a China vacuum. If GM wanted it could develop anything for US consumption. Why it won’t take a stab at producing this in the US is calculated.

While we have no inside track on the comings and goings of GM we have a guess that there is little profit built into the Hong Guang EV. We suspect that GM would rather you save your duckets for something with more profit built into it. Sorry if this seems cynical, it is just a stab at why none of the companies selling vehicles in the US have considered this segment. 

We know there are commercial drawbacks to vehicles like the Cabrio

Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV Cabrio
Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV Cabrio | GM

RELATED: In China, This Mini EV Sold 15,000 In August: Will It Come To America?

There are commercial drawbacks to vehicles like this in the US. First, it has a top speed of only 62 mph. Freeway driving is mostly out of the picture. With its 13.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack it only has a range of a little over 100 miles. With range anxiety still a concern in the US that may not sell well. But then, who is thinking about a cross-continent trip in a mini EV? 

Still, it has enough appeal to be an enticing purchase. Especially with that $4,000 price tag. We realize a Cabrio version would probably cost more. But this would be a viable segment in the US with the conversion to electrification we’re seeing just now taking off. What say ye, GM?