Huge popular success in China, will this low-cost electric city car invade our roads?

Imagine buying an electric car for less than 5,000 euros. An impossible dream for the French, a reality for the Chinese. In the Middle Kingdom, a pioneer in the large-scale manufacturing of electric vehicles, affording a “green energy” car is not the prerogative of wealthy households. Among the reasons, the political will to develop electric cars on low-cost urban models when, in Europe, the electrification of vehicles is almost systematically synonymous with moving upmarket. In 2023, the cheapest new electric car on the French market remains the Dacia Spring. And to acquire the city car produced in Romania, the buyer must still pay 20,800 euros. If he benefits from the ecological bonus, he can hope to pay 5,000 euros less, or a little more than 15,000 euros. This is still three times more expensive than the low-cost models available on the Chinese market.

Among these, there is one particularly attractive: the Hongguang Mini EV from the manufacturer Wuling. This mini-city car is such a hit in China that it is now the best-selling electric model. And for good reason, its entry-level price is 4,300 euros! Customers can even benefit from a reduction of a few dozen euros by purchasing the car alone for 2,600 euros and then taking out a 5-year subscription (27 euros per month) to acquire the battery. At this price, it is not surprising to see the little Wuling, a brand created in 2007, invading Chinese roads for several years.

Obviously, the Hongguang Mini EV is not comparable to a Renault Zoé or a Peugeot 208, nor even to a Dacia Spring. But with its 9.3 kWh battery – available at the start of the range – the small city car (2.92m long, 1.49m wide and 1.62m high for 1.94m wheelbase) can drive up to ‘120 kilometers on a single charge and reach 100 kilometers/hour. Its small size and maneuverability are also ideal for driving in urban areas. If comfort is quite minimalist in the cabin, the Hongguang Mini EV seduces above all with its price. And after having succeeded in placing its city car on the top step of electric car sales on its soil, the Chinese manufacturer would now like to see it conquer the European market.

The Hongguang Mini EV has already been imported to the Old Continent under the name FreZe Nikrob EV. Rebadged by the Estonian group Dartz, the Chinese city car has undergone some modifications in order to be approved in Europe. Its importation and the transformations undergone caused its price to rise to 13,000 euros. This remains below all electric vehicles sold in France. And while waiting to soon know the new criteria for awarding the ecological bonus – with the appearance of an environmental score – Wuling would today be eligible for the government bonus. Enough to reduce its price a little further and attract a new audience attracted by electric, but still often held back by prices that are far too high.