Launched less than a year ago, the Wuling Hongguang MINI EV is the hit of the moment and has already broken sales records. In fact, it is revolutionising the electric car market. It is the first fully electric car produced by Wuling, and was built in a joint venture between SAIC Motor, General Motor and Liuzhou Wuling Motors.
MINI EV breaks sales records
The hotly anticipated MINI EV received more than 30,000 reservations prior to launching. According to Wuling’s official Weibo account, the company obtained more than 50,000 orders and sold 15,000 units in China in the first 20 days of sales.
More recently, Wuling announced a new record set by the MINI EV. Just 200 days after entering the market, sales had exceeded 200,000 vehicles, amounting to an average of 1,000 units per day and topping global sales of small new energy vehicles.
In a market dominated by Tesla, the Wuling Hongguang MINI EV quickly became the second bestselling electric car of 2020. This put it just behind Tesla Model 3, an incredible feat given that China is Tesla’s largest market after the US and Tesla’s much-discussed Model 3 are made in its Shanghai factory.
Compare the two vehicles this year and the numbers are even more striking. According to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), Wuling sold 25,778 models in China in January, compared to Tesla’s 13,843 units of the Model 3.
Wuling drives down manufacturing costs
The price of the Wuling Hongguang MINI EV starts at just 28,000 RMB ($4,260), but how can it be so low-priced compared to competitors?
The MINI EV has three models, of which the most expensive is 39,000 RMB ($5,934). The vehicle comes with an intelligent battery system equipped with a real-time battery status monitor and an efficient charger with easy storage. The car is an extremely competent option for short-distance transportation with a range of 120, 170 or 200 km, depending on the battery model, and is rechargeable on a conventional socket outlet.
Besides the low battery capacity, Wuling’s supply chain management has kept down the cost of the car. The manufacturer already produces millions of traditional mini-cars, which enables it to put pressure on suppliers and reduce manufacturing costs such as labour force and spare parts.
In addition, as part of the Chinese government’s measures to reduce pollution, it has been offering free license plates to those who buy the Wuling Hongguang MINI EV in large cities, like Beijing and Shanghai.
Attracting younger consumers
One of the keys to Wuling’s success is irrefutably the unbeatable price that it offers, starting at only 28,000 RMB ($4,260). Although it’s not a direct competitor to the Tesla Model 3 in terms of battery, range and performance, the Wuling Hongguang MINI EV is suitable for those looking for convenience and low price.
The demographic of buyers explains how the vehicle has become one of China’s bestselling ‘new energy’ automobiles. Post-90s accounted for 72% of purchasers, among which women represent 60%. Indeed, the car makes an electric model accessible to a part of the Chinese population that never considered they would be able to afford one.
The car is appealing to young people due to its compact size. It is perfect for parking in small places and is a good transportation option for single people or couples. With two doors and four seats, the design has been inspired by the Kei cars of Japan. Despite its compact dimensions, the inside is spacious for an EV and the company even claims that there is space for two large suitcases behind the driver with the seat folded down.
Marketing the MINI EV as a way of life
Wuling has put a lot of effort into marketing so consumers perceive it not only as a car but also as a way of life and a means for young people to express their personality. Under the slogan “Wuling makes what people need”, the Wuling Hongguang MINI EV is being branded “the people’s commuting tool” on social media platforms.
The Wuling Hongguang MINI EV comes with a gratifying colour scheme that people love. In celebration of International Women’s Day, the company announced the launch of the MINI EV MACARON series which updated the appearance, interior and configuration. The new model has three new pastel colours in conjunction with PANTONE UNIVERSE’s colour palette: lemon yellow, avocado green and white peach powder.
The general shape of the MACARON version has also been optimized: the headlights have been redesigned to be more attractive to consumers; the new wheels have a unique design; and a ‘macaron’ mark has been added to the side of the window to show off the car brand.
Through effective marketing campaigns, the MINI EV has become a fashionable item to show off, which has been aided by the involvement of celebrities. The official spokespeople for the launch of the MINI EV Macaron were the Chinese actors Ren Min and Ma Boqian, helping the brand appeal to a wider audience.
Plans to conquer overseas markets
On the back of the enormous success of the MINI EV, there have been reports that Wuling is already in contact with the Latvian automaker Dartz to sell a version of the car in Europe under the name Freze Nikrob EV. Yet, the price is likely to be twice as high due to European environmental requirements.
Wuling has also demonstrated interest in exporting the MINI EV overseas. Another potential market for the car could be India as MG Motor India is also under the SAIC umbrella which Wuling belongs to.
MINI EV revolutionises the electric vehicle market
The Wuling Hongguang MINI EV has secured a strong position in the market by appealing to a demand for basic electric vehicles. It has rejuvenated the domestic market for electric mini-vehicles, triggering a rippling effect on many automakers. As a result, it seems that more styles of purely electric mini-cars will appear in the market in the near future and that competition in the new energy market will intensify.
Since the launch, the Wuling Hongguang MINI EV has not only broken sales records, surpassing the Tesla Model 3, but has also formed its own unique culture. The three new colours of the car are a powerful supplement, cementing the vehicle into a fashion item.
All images courtesy of Wuling and Weibo.
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