It looks like more electric vehicles (EVs) will be making their way to the Philippines soon. In fact, it seems some are already here being driven by private individuals for testing.
Spotted at Merville in Paranaque, it appears that several units of the Wuling Hongguang Mini EVs are now in the country. Some may be wondering why the big fuss over a small EV? Well, these are currently one of the most, if not, the most affordable EVs in the market today. Actually, it's cheap.
In China, this pint-sized electric car is available starts at just USD 4,500, making it the cheapest in the People's Republic. Converted to Philippine Pesos, the Hongguang Mini EV has a retail price of around PHP 214,863. Even after the cost of importing, this could help boost the awareness to get more people into EVs.
First launched in 2020, this all-electric microcar is a product of SAIC-GM-Wuling, a joint venture between SAIC Motor Corp. and Guangxi Automobile Group Co, and General Motors. Within just 9 months of its release, the company has already sold over 270,000 units of this tiny EV. The company is aiming to have an annual sales figure of 1.2 million vehicles next year, equal to the number of EVs made by China's automakers in 2020 combined.
But how were they able to make this EV so affordable in the first place? Besides being really small, this EV has a small 9.2 kWh battery pack that powers a single electric motor. It makes 17 PS with 85 Nm of torque and has a top speed of 100 km/h. It also has a maximum range of 120 km, which can be extended to 170 km with a bigger 13.8 kWh battery pack.
While its output figures are nothing to write home about, it's the vehicle's packaging, size, and price point that ultimately attracted buyers. And with China bullish about reducing its carbon footprint and promoting the use of EVs, the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV is making waves in its home market.
The fact that several units were spotted right here in the Philippines could mean a local distributor, or perhaps even SAIC-GM is actually testing the waters. The company did mention that they have plans of offering the Honggaung Mini EV to export markets, and perhaps we are one of the countries that are part of a testing program.
In the Philippines, EVs are still prohibitively expensive despite these types of vehicles being exempted from the excise tax (they are still subject to the full 30% import duties). Take for example the all-new Nissan Leaf. At PHP 2,798,000, it's not exactly affordable. This is because it doesn't meet certain tax breaks. Then there's the matter of buyers still being hesitant to buy EVs.
But could a cheaper EV like the Wuling Hongguang actually help the country warm up to electric cars? Perhaps, but until they are officially on sale in the country, we'll have to wait and see.
For now, we're keeping our eyes peeled should there be more units of the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV going around Metro Manila.