GM is expanding its electric aspirations and launching a super-compact, cheap EV — but it’s only coming to China.
The automaker’s Chinese Baojun brand just launched its first mass-market electric car, the E100, for only about $5,300 USD after estimated local and national subsidies. The tiny two-seater looks like one of Mercedes-Benz’s smart cars (which has its own EV in the works), a design which GM claims is the perfect size for Chinese commuters looking for a compact, low-maintenance set of wheels.
The E100 doesn’t provide a ton of range or power, but that’s not what GM/Baojun are aiming for here, especially at the low price point. The lithium-ion battery has an estimated range of about 96 miles per charge and takes about 7.5 hours to power up, so this is definitely a vehicle meant to be plugged in overnight between commutes.
The E100’s speed tops out at about 62 mph, so it won’t be winning any races. All versions of the car will have a 7-inch screen and Wi-Fi, while an upgraded premium version will offer a touchpad, air filter, and keyless entry for an undisclosed fee.
The E100 is already a hit, according to GM: The automaker claims that over 5,000 people registered for the first 200 cars available, overwhelming the launch supply. Baojun will soon have more cars ready for the demand, starting sales in the Guangxi region.
Those certainly aren’t Tesla Model 3-level specs — but the E100’s price, which is less than a fifth of the much-discussed $35,000 starting point for the much-hyped “affordable” Model 3 in the U.S., could make it a much more accessible car for the general public in the Chinese market.
Baojun, which is owned by GM’s SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture, won’t be offering the E100 outside of China, however, so EV enthusiasts in the US won’t have a shot at a compact battery powered car for under $10,000.
GM will instead directly compete with Tesla’s Model 3 in the U.S. with its all-electric Chevy Bolt, the well-received EV that is slowly spreading to all markets after launching in limited quantities on the West Coast since last year. The Bolt is much bigger than the E100, with more range and a much higher price tag, at about $30,000 after incentives.