What Is the Most Popular Electric Car in China?

Electric vehicles are poised to be the future of the automotive world, and many countries have already passed laws that encourage the adoption of EVs. China is one of those countries, and as a result, the Chinese EV market is not only massive, but it’s diverse as well as there are a lot of EVs to choose from. In fact, the most popular electric car in China isn’t a Tesla, and here’s an overview of that popular Chinese EV.

An EV charging station where electric car charger where names are confusing.
EV charging station | Getty Images

The Chinese EV market is extremely large

According to the BBC, China is currently the largest EV market in the world. About 25% of every new car that’s bought in China is an EV, and Chinese citizens buy a lot of cars. When it’s all said and done, Chinese car shoppers bought around 6 million EVs in 2022 alone. This also means that China accounts for half of the world’s EV sales. 

There are many reasons for why China is such a world leader when it comes to EVs. Just like California and Europe, China has passed a law that will ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035. On top of that, the Chinese government offers some lucrative incentives that further encourage shoppers to go electric. These incentives vary from location to location, but in one Chinese city, EV drivers can drive in the bus lane.

Drivers who own a gas-powered car may also be penalized by having to pay a lot of money for their license plate. In Shanghai, that can cost around $14,000. Thanks to those incentives, there is a huge demand for EVs, and a lot of automakers have stepped up to the challenge to meet China’s growing EV demand.

Tesla is one of those automakers, and despite the fact that Tesla had a record-breaking month for sales, Tesla is far from being the most popular EV automaker in China. In fact, while American shoppers have been trending toward larger and more expensive cars, Chinese EV shoppers have gone the opposite direction.

The most popular EV in China right now is the Hong Guang Mini, and like its name suggests, it’s a small EV. The Mini is a two-door EV that’s designed for city driving. In particular, the company is targeting first-time drivers who live in cities.

As such, the Mini is extremely cheap, and it currently starts at about $5,000. That makes it 10 times cheaper than the Tesla Model Y. Unsurprisingly, that cheap price tag makes it a very popular option.

An overview of the Hong Guang Mini

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That cheap price tag also means that the Mini doesn’t come with much in the way of specs or features, but drivers in China seem fine with that. The Mini comes with several options, but in terms of power, its electric motor will only generate up to 40 hp. The standard version has a 9.2-kWh battery, but the company also offers two longer range battery options.

Since these EVs aren’t available in the U.S., the EPA doesn’t have any range estimates for them. Regardless, the standard battery has an estimated range of 75 miles, while the longest range battery option has an estimated range of 170 miles. Due to its small size, the Mini only seats four people, and its cargo capacity is limited. 

These little EVs are made by an automaker called SAIC-GM-Wuling, and as the name suggests, General Motors is actually involved. GM has a minority stake in the company, while SAIC has the majority. Wuling has the smallest share of the company.