In this episode of Electric Car watch, we will talk about the Chinese electric car that is beating Tesla in EV sales.
The car has already sold more than 370,000 units since it launched in 2020. In just one month, August of 2021, this car sold over 50,000 units. Just to give you an idea, our very own Tata Motors sold around 28,000 units in August 2021. This includes both ICE and EV’s. That just shows how huge the market is in China. Our Indian car makers can also sell well. But our Indian car makers are not launching small electric cars. All our car makers are launching one SUV after another. Indian car makers are just not in sync with the aspirations of millions of Indians. Bhavish Agarwal of OLA electric put it very succinctly - “The IC engine, automobiles and the related ecosystem is a remnant of the past and assumes unsustainably high ownership of vehicles manufactured by OEMs and sold through dealers. Consumers have been downgraded to being just a cog in this giant wheel.”
Back to the Wuling Mini EV, the car starts at Rs 3.5 lakhs. But do remember that this is after the Chinese government subsidy. There are 2 battery options - a 120 km and a 170 km variant with a 9.2 and 13.8 kWh LFP battery packs respectively. The car measures 2,917 mm (114.8-in) long and 1,493 mm (58.8-in) wide, this compares to our very own Tata Nano which had a length of 3,099 mm length and 1,390 mm width. Just look at how cute and small it is. How can you not love it? Oh right, because ICE automakers have successfully brainwashed consumers, the overwhelming majority of whom remain, males that large cars like SUVs are what successful alphas drive. Sigmund Freud must be smiling in his grave. We wondered about the profitability of this car and we got information from a Chinese car site called - XCar where they explain how - China runs a green car credit program that awards automakers with credits for producing eco-friendly cars like EVs and penalises them for producing regular internal combustion engine vehicles. One credit is worth about 3,000 Yuan, equivalent to around $460 USD, and each Hong Guang MINI EV produced nets Wuling two credits. So the credits are worth 20% of the car's cost!
This is a fantastic policy. We in India really need governments to penalize car companies that keep launching one ICE model after another and don’t launch EV’s. Unless car companies in India are penalized for creating pollution cars, it will be business as usual and we won’t see any change from them.
Now the interesting thing is the car is now going to Europe. It has been branded the “ ” and it is now Europe’s most affordable electric car, starting at €9,999. The car has received changes that make it safer and more energy-efficient. The European variant now has ESP, airbags, new wheels, and LED lighting. It also has a larger battery with more than 200 km range. It will be interesting to see how this car performs in Europe. Wuling, SAIC, and GM are now offering upgraded versions of the Mini EV. The battery capacity is set to increase to 26 kWh, which should enable a range of more than 300 km or 250 km in the real world. The newer version of the Mini EV will also feature a longer wheelbase and more power, in addition to the significantly longer range. It’s fantastic to see the company innovating and upgrading. I can see this car selling more than 100,000 units per month. That is 1.2 million units per year by 2022 and 2023 if there are no production/supplier issues.
What about Indian car makers?
Now the question for all of you is this: Why can’t Indian car makers make a small EV like the Wuling Mini EV? Tata can easily launch the Nano EV, which will be similar in size, and they are likely to make huge sales. But something is telling me the ICE car management at Tata Motors is not interested in selling small electric cars. This ensures that the sales of their ICE cars are not affected. Maruti keeps offering excuses. An IGNIS can easily be electrified. But again they don’t want to do it. This is the difference between Chinese Auto OEM’s and Indian OEMS. Indian car makers are scared of EVs, while Chinese car companies see EVs as an opportunity. Just imagine if any OEM launches a Rs 5-6 lakh small car that goes 250 km. An average Indian car owner drives 30 km per day and such an electric car is more than sufficient for most people.
Many middle class Indian consumers would be delighted to move from a 2 wheeler to a car that doesn't need petrol, requires very little maintenance, seats 4 to 5 people, and is a breeze to drive because of the lack of a clutch, zero vibrations, and lack of engine noise? Small electric cars are good for the people, good for our cities, and good for the environment. That's why I haven't upgraded from my e2o in 6 years even though the old girl is getting up there. If there was a suitable alternative, I'd jump on it at once, but our automakers just don't care.
Bhavish Agarwal of Ola Electric said they will launch an OLA electric car in 2023. We told him to launch small electric cars as our car OEMs are not listening. Let’s hope they listen and Ola disrupts the car industry just like they are doing with their electric scooter!
Ultimately our ICE car companies can’t keep playing games. Suddenly an OLA electric or a Chinese car maker will sell affordable electric cars and capture the market. That is how disruption works. Thanks guys for watching. Do write in the comments below on your observation and research you may have done on this Wuling Mini EV and small electric cars in India.