Now EV in China

Much noise has been made about the “affordable” Tesla Model 3, but it looks seriously pricey compared to the latest electric car from GM. Dubbed the Baojun E100, it has about 100 miles of range and costs less than the average motorbike when government subsidies are taken into account. The caveat? It’s only available in China.

That’s right, the E100 won’t be showing up in Chevrolet or Buick dealerships anytime soon. It was been developed in conjunction with state-owned SAIC, one of the largest manufacturers in China. GM has been working with SAIC since 2001, selling cars under the Wuling and Baojun brand names. The pairing, known colloquially as SGMW, sold more than 1.5 million cars last year.

Aimed at city dwellers, the E100 is absolutely tiny. It has a 1,600 mm (5.25 ft) wheelbase and is just 1,670 mm (5.48 ft) tall, with a 3.7 meter (12.14 ft) turning radius. Those figures make the SmartForTwo look like a Land Rover Defender, so they should make the car perfect for swinging into small spaces in downtown Shanghai.

Power comes from a single motor making 100 Nm of torque and 29 kW (39 hp), with about 155 km (96 mi) of range on a single charge. There isn’t any mention of fast charging, but the regular wall plug will charge the lithium-ion pack in 7.5 hours. Regenerative braking also helps feed energy back into the battery on the move.

Even though it’s not overly powerful, Baojun says the car will still hit 100 km/h (62 mph) on the highway. After all, even people who live in the city need to get away occasionally. Whether you would actually want to mix it with semi-trailers and big family four-wheel drives that dominate the highways in your tiny EV is another question.

Inside, the two-seat E100 has a 7-inch touchscreen with wireless connectivity. The options list isn’t particularly long, but buyers of the upscale Zhixiang model benefit from keyless entry and a better air filter for the climate control. Given how poor air quality has become in some Chinese cities, the more expensive model might be worth a look. Much like the Model 3, the E100 has its air vents integrated into the dashboard, and there are no conventional instruments in front of the driver.