SHANGHAI—A tiny electric vehicle from General Motors Co. with a top speed of 62 miles an hour has zoomed past the Tesla Model 3 to become China’s bestselling EV.
Launched in late July under GM’s local Wuling brand, the Hongguang Mini costs $4,300 and primarily targets consumers in China’s smaller, less affluent cities. The Model 3, which Tesla Inc. started producing in Shanghai last year, costs roughly $37,600 after subsidies and is tilted more toward buyers in China’s wealthy metropolises.
GM’s strategy to go after the low end of China’s EV market runs counter to its approach in the U.S., where it plans to launch a battery-powered Hummer pickup truck under its GMC brand in about a year, priced at around $113,000. After years of struggling to sell relatively affordable electrics like the Chevrolet Bolt, GM’s coming slate of EVs will include larger vehicles and luxury cars, which should help the company turn a profit on them, analysts say.
Through the three months ended Oct. 31, the Hongguang Mini notched 55,781 in sales, compared with the Model 3’s 35,283 sales over that same stretch, according to the China Passenger Car Association. The duo are the top-selling EVs in China by a wide margin, accounting for nearly a quarter of the purchases.
Wuling, which GM produces through one of its two Chinese joint ventures with state-run SAIC Motor Corp. , has been the dominant player in China’s entry-level segment for many years. The Hongguang’s instant success suggests Wuling is well-placed to maintain that position as auto makers transition away from gasoline to electric propulsion.