Is the mini electric car the next big trend in zero-emissions driving?

In China, the Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV was the best selling electric car in 2021. In the process, the MINI EV, which is funded by General Motors (GM), sold over 500,000 units during the year.

Wuling Motors also set a new record for sales of one new energy car model in China, with sales reaching 55,729 in December 2021. During its record selling year, the MINI EV outsold many big names, including Tesla, who are the world’s largest electric car maker.

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With a price tag of just $4,100 (£3,125 /€3,465) it’s no wonder this electric vehicle (EV) has been such a hit. It’s affordable to a mass audience and is ideal for around-town use. It has been such a big hit that Wuling will offer a convertible MINI EV later this year.

Meanwhile, it’s a different story in the USA and Europe with many in the electric vehicle industry expecting the electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) and its smaller and lighter sibling, the crossover, to become the most dominant electric car in the USA and Europe.

In Europe, pure electric SUV and crossover-style vehicles accounted for just under 50 percent of the models available. Volkswagen’s ID.4 led sales of this style of vehicle during April with 7,400 new registrations across the 18 market regions in Europe.

While the electric crossover and SUV may be dominant, we wonder what would happen if there was a greater availability of smaller, far cheaper electric mini cars? These cars are ideal for urban dwellers and shorter journeys, and the price would help far more people transition to an electric car.

Citroën launched their AMI mini electric car in 2021, originally for a French audience. With such high customer demand, the Ami and Ami Cargo are now available to order in the UK. With an expected price tag of just £6,000 ($8210/€7,186) it has been an instant hit.

In Germany, which is Europe’s largest market and the fifth-biggest in the world,  during December 2021 electric vehicle sales were led by the Tesla Model 3 with 6,096 registrations.


What was interesting was that the VW EUP! was the second best seller in Germany with 5,343 sales. The VW EUP! Is Volkswagen’s smallest and cheapest electric vehicle and predates the brand’s latest ID. models, including the ID.3, that hit the market in 2020.

In Japan, Nissan Motor Company announced they plan to start sales of an all-new, all-electric mini vehicle in early 2022. Prices for the 20kWh electric car, which will be made in collaboration with Mitsubishi, are expected to start from two million yen (£13,234/$18,208/€15,429).

Other companies, including Great Wall with its ORA Black Cat (R1), SAIC with its Baojun E-Series and Chery with its eQ1, all offer more affordable electric mini cars. The big question is if and when we might see them in the USA and EUROPE, and the effect this would have on sales and electric vehicle take-up?

It will be interesting to see where the electric car market heads in the USA and Europe over the coming years, especially as the transition from early adopters to mainstream users takes place. We think the big change will happen when cars become more affordable or the model of owning changes and drivers start to lease vehicles.

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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