During November 2020, China set records for sales of plug-in cars with sales up a massive 138 percent year-on-year with 198,000 units sold. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles grew fastest up 164 percent, while battery electric vehicles rose 134 percent. Out of the top 10 best selling cars overall the only name that most westerners will know is Telsa that sat in second place with its Model 3. All the others were Chinese electric cars that are largely unavailable in Western markets but could be coming in the future, especially as many offer such good value. So let’s take a look at the five best selling Chinese electric cars you might not have heard of:
One: Wuling HongGuang Mini EV
Since its launch in July Wuling’s HongGuang Mini EV has become the best seller in China during November with 33,094 units sold. This is the company’s fifth record month in a row. This massive success is down to the fact it only costs $4,200 (£3,112/€3430) making it one of the cheapest electric cars on the planet. Wuling, who are backed by General Motors, don’t just offer an affordable electric car but a practical one. It can seat four and features either a 9 kWh or 13 kWh battery pack with a range of up to 106 miles (170km). For most, especially who use their car around town this is more than adequate for short journeys whether it’s commuting, the school run or shopping. The Wuling HongGuang Mini EV is already becoming a game-changer in China and could be for the rest of the world too. It has sold 85,766 units so far this year.
Two: Great Wall ORA Black Cat (R1)
Great Wall’s Black Cat, which is sold under the brand’s ORA tag, sold 9,463 units during November and has sold 36,764 units so far during 2020. This was the third best selling electric car in China during November behind the Tesla Model 3. Great Wall created its Black Cat based on its dinky sized R1 that looks similar to a SmartCar. The brand decided to form a cat-pack with various models including the White Cat, which is an urban cruiser, and the Good Cat, which is a chunky mid-size hatchback. The five-door Black Cat (R1) offers 48 horsepower delivering a top speed of 63mph (102kph) with a range of up to 187 miles (301km). Prices range from £6,377 ($8,680/€7,072) to £8,296 ($11,293/€9,202) depending on battery size which includes 28.5 kWh, 33 kWh and 37 kWh versions.
Three: Build Your Dreams (BYD) Han EV
China’s BYD have been consistently doing well during 2020 and the brand’s top-end Han EV has been hugely successful. It was the fourth best selling electric car during November selling 7,482 units and sold 20,066 cars up until the end of November. Production of the Han EV has been ramping up and the popularity of BYD’s flagship car is growing. It features the brand’s blade battery technology which is claimed to be simpler and more space-efficient than its rivals battery packs. The 77 kWh blade battery offers a range of up to 376 miles (605km). Based on looks, size and performance it’s hard not to compare the Han EV to Tesla’s Model S but the big difference here is the price, which is only £24,000 ($32,800/€26,950). For comparison the Tesla Model S prices start from £79,980 ($62,40/€84,990), so the Han EV offers great value and could be game when they become available in Europe, the USA and the UK.
Four: SAIC Baojun E-Series
SAIC Motors Baojun E Series cars, which are a joint venture with General Motors and Wuling, offer a range of micro electric vehicles including the E100, E200, E300 and E300 Plus. They offer a little more luxury than Wuling Mini EV and remain good value for money. The E-Series of cars look similar to a SmartCar and are ideal for around-town use. The E100 features a 29 kWh battery that offers a range of 155 miles (250km) with a top speed of 62mph (100 kph). Prices start from £5,575 ($7,622/€6,262). SAIC offer two versions of the E200 which feature a 29 kWh battery. This provides a top speed of 62mph (100kph) with a range between 130-168 miles (210-270km) with prices starting at £6,135 ($7,697/€6,892). The range-topping E300 and E300 Plus both feature a 39 kWh battery and offer ranges of between 162 miles (260km) and 190 miles (305km) respectively. Prices start at £7,255 ($9,919/€8,149) for the E300 and £9,495 ($12,980/€10,665) for the E300 Plus.
Five: Chery eQ1
Chery Automobile Company’s neat micro eQ1, which has been nicknamed the little ant, is an electric car that’s offered in two and four-seat versions. Both have the same body size that is 3200mm long, 1670mm wide and 1550mm high with a wheelbase of 2150mm. It’s ideal for town and short journey use and being so small makes it easy to manoeuvre and convenient to park. The Chery eQ1 features a 30.6 kWh battery that offers a range of around 112 miles (180km). A full charge takes between five and seven hours when using a 6.6 kW charger, while fast charging up to 80 percent capacity takes between 30 and 50 minutes. Prices range from £8,486 ($11,602/€9,533).