Although Thanksgiving Day as celebrated in the U.S. is not an official holiday in China, General Motors gave the country something to be thankful for just the same last Thursday in the form of its first domestically produced electric car.
The Sail Springo EV was shown at the Guangzhou auto show and is part of the push to produce salable products given China has shown itself willing to subsidize its market of electric and plug-in hybrids toward a goal of 5 million units annually by 2020.
GM’s electric car produced with joint-venture partner, SAIC, will start at $41,400 (258,000 yuan) and will for now be available in Shanghai only. Top speed, GM says, is 80 mph (130 kph), and range is 80-124 miles (130 km- 200 km).
It will join a growing fray of competitors fielded by domestic as well as other western and Asian automakers also lining up respective JV-produced EVs in what policymakers in China hope to be a burgeoning EV market in years to come.
Recent announcements of pending or just-launched models include efforts also by SAIC itself, Nissan, BYD and others.
China is now the world’s largest auto market, and GM has said it will increase electrified offerings produced in, and targeted to this market, including the Chevy Volt.
For now the U.S.-built Volt is heavily penalized by tariffs and ineligible for subsidies offered to locally made JV products. The Volt sells for around $79,000 in China, and not surprisingly, its sales have been slow.
GM has not said if it would choose to build the Volt in China, but executives have said it has been considered should the case be made that this would be a wise business move in their estimation.
For now, the lower hanging fruit involves getting on board with domestic EVs which represent lower costs to build, are eligible for subsidies, and thus rather than being a loss-leading halo car, actually offer acceptable profit margins for GM and its domestic partners.