Electric car sales in China recently exceeded sales in the U.S. for the first time, and along with China’s newfound interest in electric cars, comes a new fad: mini electric cars.
Small and affordable, mini electric cars are becoming a popular option in China for recent college graduates, young couples, and those purchasing a second car.
Although sales of mini electric vehicles are still relatively small, they seem to represent a growing trend. Yale Zhang, managing director of market and industry research firm Automotive Foresight, told the Wall Street Journal that mini electric vehicles accounted for about 70 percent of the electric vehicle market during the first 10 months of 2014.
Zhang also told WSJ that these types of vehicles represent the most important segment of China’s electric vehicle market, with a popularity that is bolstered by their affordability and driving ranges.
The cheapest of these vehicles start at about 108,000 yuan or 17,000 dollars before government tax incentives and can drive between 50 and 75 miles, with the ability to reach speeds between 60 and 75 miles per hour. Since they have small batteries, charging is relatively simple and uses voltage similar to that found in an average household.
According the Wall Street Journal, analysts estimate that there are about 80,000 electric vehicles operating on the streets of China, but the government hopes to see this number rise to 500,000 in the next year and 5,000,000 by the end of the decade.
In an effort to curb the country’s pollution problem and reduce foreign oil dependency, the government has offered substantial economic incentives to electric car owners, but the Chinese public has still been slow to embrace the electric car market because of cost and charging concerns.
Now, however, with electric cars sales finally gaining some traction, it appears the Chinese public is ready to go electric– thanks, in part, to the convenient and affordable nature of mini electric cars.