China's ultra-low-cost electric car 'Hongguang Mini' craze

It is predicted that China will be able to enter the global automobile market with the ultra-low-priced electric vehicle 'Wuling Hongkwang Mini', which has recently been popular in China.

According to an industry trend report by the Korea Automobile Research Institute (Han Ja-Yeon) on the 28th, 'SAIC-GM-Wuling Motors' (SGMW), a joint venture between China's Shanghai Automobile (SAIC), commercial vehicle maker Wuling Motors, and US General Motors (GM) Sales of the Wuling Hongkwang Mini, an electric vehicle launched in July last year, have been increasing rapidly recently.

Hongkwang Mini ranked second in China and second in the world in the electric vehicle sales ranking last year, and in March and April of this year, it ranked second in China in the total passenger car sales including internal combustion engine vehicles.

The Hongkwang Mini is a compact car in the form of a 'box car' that has a high height compared to length and width. In terms of domestic standards, the size corresponds to a compact car, but in terms of output, it is included in a general compact car. The maximum output of the Hongkwang Mini is 20kW, which is higher than the standard for ultra-small vehicles (15kW or less).

Han Ja-Yeon analyzed that from 2016 to last year, the popularity of the mini car was so low that there was no compact car in the top 10 sales rankings for each model in China, but the Hongkwang Mini attracted the attention of young consumers thanks to its economical efficiency and practicality based on its brand recognition.

Hongkwang Mini, which inherited the brand name of ‘Wuling Hongkwang’, a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) that was released in 2012 and sold steadily in China, includes basic functions necessary for automobiles but boldly omits auxiliary functions to meet the needs of young consumers, the main target. The price was set in the low 500,000 range.

Considering the young people in urban areas who use vehicles for short-distance commuting, the maximum driving distance is not long, but the cost has been reduced by designing the rear seats to be folded and used as cargo space.

In addition, in consideration of the needs (requirements) of young consumers, a smartphone link function has been added and safety and warranty services have been strengthened.

The Chinese government's support for purchasing electric vehicles also played a role. To curb traffic demand, large cities in China regulate vehicle purchases, such as issuing license plates through auctions or lottery, but some restrictions, such as free license plates for electric vehicles, were exempted.

Hanjayeon predicted that the popularity of the Hongkwang Mini will serve as an opportunity for China to enter the global automobile market in earnest.

Through Hongkwang Mini, it is possible not only to accumulate technology and know-how to produce cost-saving products but also to advance into the market of underdeveloped countries with low electric vehicle penetration rates to preoccupy brand recognition.

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