GM shrinks EV with Bao­jun hatch

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Motoring -

Meet the small­est, cheap­est and quirki­est car in the Gen­eral Mo­tors armoury – the Chi­nese-built, all-elec­tric Bao­jun E100.

De­signed as a step up from the elec­tric bi­cy­cles and mo­tor scoot­ers that swarm through city seats in the world’s big­gest mo­tor mar­ket, the China-only three-door hatch­back is be­ing launched un­der the Bao­jun brand by SAIC-GM-WUL­ING – a joint ven­ture of GM and Chi­nese part­ners SAIC Mo­tor and Li­uzhou Wul­ing Mo­tors.

Half as long as a Holden Com­modore at 2488mm and al­most 400mm nar­rower at 1506mm, the two-seat city run­about can travel up to 150km on a full charge of its lithium-ion bat­ter­ies.

Top speed is said to be 100kmh, even though its sin­gle elec­tric mo­tor de­liv­ers a puny 29kw of power to the front wheels. As al­ways with elec­tric ve­hi­cles, torque is the key, top­ping out at 110Nm in this case.

Charg­ing via a port hid­den be­hind the Bao­jun horse head badge on the grille – Bao­jun means trea­sure horse in Chi­nese – takes 7.5 hours on a stan­dard house­hold elec­tric­ity socket.

Look­ing sim­i­lar in con­cept to Daim­ler’s Smart Fortwo, the E100 boasts a sim­ply but funky in­te­rior with bright pas­tel high­lights.

In a cute touch, the brake and ac­cel­er­a­tor ped­als are em­bla­zoned with large plus and mi­nus signs re­spec­tively.

A con­sole-mounted knob is used to se­lect drive, re­verse and park, while an eight-inch dig­i­tal dis­play in front of the driver in­cor­po­rates speedo, tacho, bat­tery charge read­out and other func­tions.

Lug­gage space be­hind the twin seats is suf­fi­cient for a few shop­ping bags.

As its city habi­tat dic­tates, the E100 has a tight turn­ing ra­dius of 3.7 me­tres.

Elec­tric steer­ing, Wi-fi and park­ing sen­sors are avail­able on both vari­ants, with the up-mar­ket ver­sion gain­ing a touch­pad, air fil­ter and key­less en­try.

Thanks to Chi­nese gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies for elec­tric ve­hi­cles, the cheaper of two Bao­jun E100 vari­ants sells for just 35,800 yuan, $A6781.

So far, the new model is only avail­able in lim­ited num­bers in SAICGM-WUL­ING’S home city of Li­uzhou, in the south­ern Chi­nese prov­ince of Guangxi, seem­ingly as a toe-in-the­wa­ter ex­er­cise ahead of a pos­si­ble roll-out across China where sev­eral ma­jor cities such as Bei­jing and Shang­hai have re­stric­tions on fos­sil­fuel-pow­ered mo­tor ve­hi­cles.

The first batch of 200 ve­hi­cles drew a queue of 5000 po­ten­tial buy­ers.

The com­pany says a sec­ond batch of 500 will go on sale this week, with Chi­nese mo­tor­ing pun­dits pre­dict­ing a sell-out suc­cess.

SAIC-GM-WUL­ING is GM’S ‘home brand’ Chi­nese pro­ducer, pump­ing out two mil­lion ve­hi­cles a year – 20 per­cent of GM global sales.

In early Au­gust, for­mer Holden chair­man and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Mike Dev­ereux be­came ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese com­pany, which is China’s big­gest pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle pro­ducer be­hind western brands such as Volk­swa­gen and Chevro­let.

POWER DOWN: The Chi­nese-built Bao­jun E100 has only 29kw of power from its elec­tric mo­tor, but still man­ages 100kmh.

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