BEIJING, China: The Chinese public seems to have developed a penchant for the pocket-friendly Hong Guang Mini EV, priced at $4,400, as is apparent from its booming sales in China, that have outstripped those of Tesla's high-end cars.
State-run SAIC Motor, China's leading auto manufacturer, may have hit the jackpot, as the compact-sized car has emerged as China's top-selling electric vehicle.
The EV is being manufactured under a joint venture between SAIC Motor and the General Motors (GM).
China's budget EV emerged as the clear favorite among consumers, with January sales having nearly doubled those sold by Tesla, which has come under Chinese scrutiny in February due to safety concerns.
Even as the $4,400 Hong Guang Mini is being lapped up by the public, an upgraded version, replete with air conditioning, is available for just above $5,000. The cars are being promoted as "the people's commuting tool."
The joint venture -- SAIC-GM-Wuling -- is locally called Wuling. Car experts opined that despite being inferior to Tesla, in terms of its battery, range, and performance, it still manages to be among China's top-selling "new energy" vehicles, owing to its affordable pricing and convenience.
The four-seater basic model, launched in 2020, can attain a maximum speed of 100km/h (62mph).
"China's government is serious about reducing pollution and becoming the global leader in adopting and promoting innovation of electric vehicles," Shaun Rein, managing director of the China Market Research Group, told the BBC.
"We remain very bullish on adopting budget EVs, such as the Hong Guang Mini to higher-end ones, including NIO and Tesla," Rein added.