Wuling Hongguang Mini Ev Review | Range | Interior | Price
EV Cars

Wuling Hongguang Mini Ev Review

The Wuling Hongguang Mini EV, priced at an astonishing $5,000, is reshaping what it means to own an electric vehicle (EV). It’s so cost-effective that adding premium features like a cigar humidor to a Rolls-Royce or Apple CarPlay to a Ferrari could cost more than the entire Mini EV. Its affordability has not only caught the eye of consumers but also spurred Chinese manufacturers to create similar models.

Versatility and Expansion

Wuling’s success with the Mini EV is clear as they expand their lineup, introducing variants such as a cabriolet and a long-range version. Despite its unavailability outside China, its impact is significant enough to merit global attention. We had the chance to test the “luxury” Macaron version in China to gauge its quality and see what lessons could be gleaned for making EVs more accessible in the US and Europe.

Understanding the Mini EV鈥檚 Cost Efficiency

The secret to the Mini EV’s low cost lies in its simplicity and use of off-the-shelf, consumer-grade parts rather than more expensive automotive-grade components. Professor Masayoshi Yamamoto of Nagoya University provided insights by dismantling a unit shipped to Japan. His findings suggest that while the Mini EV might face more frequent issues due to its simpler build, it benefits from lower repair costs.

The Mini EV is a product of a strategic joint venture. SAIC Motor, one of China’s largest automotive firms and the new owner of MG in Europe, holds a 50.1% stake. Surprisingly to some, General Motors is the second-largest owner with 44%. This partnership, which has been thriving for over two decades, illustrates the longstanding collaboration between GM and SAIC, particularly highlighting GM’s engagement with the Chinese market since 2003.

Wuling Hongguang Mini Ev Interior Space: Cozy yet Functional

Wuling Hongguang Mini Ev Interior Space: Cozy yet Functional

While the idea of fitting four adults into the Mini EV might be a bit of a squeeze, the car’s 1,621 mm height provides reasonable headroom, making it taller than it is wide. This design choice enhances the feeling of space, at least vertically. The rear seats come equipped with Isofix child-seat attachments, emphasizing that these spots are best suited for children. Adults might find the seating tight, especially without substantial headrests, which could make longer journeys less comfortable.

Storage in the Mini EV is somewhat limited. There isn’t a traditional trunk; instead, there鈥檚 a small area that might fit slim items, but it’s mostly occupied by charging cables. However, the rear seats can be individually adjusted鈥攆olded down or pulled up with a strap鈥攖o expand the cargo space up to 741 liters, making the car more versatile for transporting goods rather than just passengers.

Cabin and Safety Features

The cabin’s design is straightforward and utilitarian, with hard plastics prevalent throughout and visible screws that might not scream luxury but certainly meet the needs of budget-conscious drivers. The Macaron version of the Mini EV steps up its game by including an essential safety upgrade: an airbag for the driver is now standard, an improvement over the base model.

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Driving Dynamics: Nimble and Navigable

The Mini EV offers a driving experience reminiscent of navigating through an urban jungle with ease, akin to maneuvering a kart in a lively game of Mario Kart. Originally inspired by the low-speed electric vehicles (LSEVs) common in China, the Mini EV stands out as a more robust counterpart, akin to Japan’s kei microcars, and is unrestricted on normal roads. Despite its maximum speed of 62 mph and tiny 12-inch wheels, this EV excels at darting through traffic, thanks to its compact size.

Interestingly, the Mini EV features a selector button discreetly placed behind the steering wheel, allowing drivers to toggle between Eco and Sport modes. The rear-wheel-drive setup, powered by a modest 20 kW (27 hp) electric motor with 85 Nm of torque, finds its stride in Sport mode. Here, it offers not only crisper acceleration but also enhanced regenerative braking, though one-pedal driving remains elusive due to the vehicle鈥檚 light 700 kg (1,543 lbs) weight and gradual deceleration.

Wuling Hongguang Mini Ev Range and Charging

Wuling Hongguang Mini Ev Range and Charging
Wuling Hongguang Mini Ev Range

The Mini EV is available with two battery options: a 9.3 kWh and a 13.8 kWh pack. These provide ranges of 75 miles and 106 miles respectively under the NEDC standard, which are ample for city commuting but not beyond. Charging is a slow affair with no fast-charging option; it takes 6.5 hours for the smaller battery and a full 9 hours for the larger on a standard 220V outlet.

Wuling Hongguang Mini Ev Price and Market Position

Wuling Hongguang Mini Ev Price
Wuling Hongguang Mini Ev Price

Originally priced at RMB 28,800 ($4,389), the Mini EV offers an affordable entry into electric motoring. The luxury Macaron version, which we tested, was slightly pricier at RMB 43,600 ($6,645). Recent battery cost increases have nudged these prices up by about $1,000. Despite these rises, Wuling reportedly makes less than $14 profit per car, emphasizing the vehicle’s value-driven approach.

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