General Motors will begin selling a highly anticipated two-seat compact electric vehicle (EV) on September 1, launching its second model after last year’s resounding success Hongguang to capture the lower end of the world’s largest electric vehicle market.
The base edition of the Cabrio, a two-seater convertible made in partnership with Chinese companies SAIC Motor and Wuling Motors, with a range of 200 kilometers, will retail for 40,000 yuan ($5,940), according to local media. A long-range version with a range of 300 kilometers will sport a price tag of 60,000 yuan.
The Cabrio was unveiled at Last year’s Shanghai Auto Show and is seen as a potential game changer. It should attract first-time car buyers, analysts say.
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“Low-cost pure electric cars with a range of around 300 kilometers could attract millions of city dwellers,” said Gao Shen, an independent analyst in Shanghai. “Most young drivers will opt for a small electric vehicle with a modern design.”
A growing number of young Chinese drivers are switching from conventional cars to battery electric vehicles. But smart electric vehicles built by Tesla and its Chinese rivalswhich are equipped with high-end features such as preliminary autonomous driving technologies, voice recognition systems and high-performance batteries, are often beyond their means. These young consumers are targeting cars priced around 100,000 yuan.
The Cabrio comes with a manually retractable roof. SAIC-GM-Wuling said on Tuesday it would be sold on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Unlike Chinese smart electric vehicle makers who take pre-orders before delivering the cars, it will take orders for cars in stock.
SAIC-GM-Wuling’s first model, the Hongguang Mini EV, a compact four-seater with a range of 170 kilometers, starts at 32,800 yuan after the company raised its price by 4,000 yuan in March. It was the best-selling electric vehicle in China last year with 426,500 units delivered to customers, 33% more than Tesla’s total sales of Model 3 and Model Y in mainland China.
“Hongguang and Cabrio electric vehicles – and their ilk – have great market potential to tap into in the coming years, as nearly 10 million university students graduate each year. [in China]said Phate Zhang, founder of Shanghai-based electric vehicle news site CnEVpost. “Many of them want to own a car after they start working and a fancy convertible electric vehicle might be a first choice.”
The adoption rate for electric vehicles in China is expected to reach 30% in the coming months, up from around 26% in May, UBS analyst Paul Gong said this month. Total shipments could exceed 6 million units this year, more than double last year’s total, Gong said.
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