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An Electric Convertible from GM... for China

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The Shanghai Auto Show is fast approaching and many interesting models will be presented, as usual. This year, one of those will be the Hongguang MINIEV Cabrio concept from Wuling. This company works in partnership with General Motors (GM) in China, so the vehicle presented has some of the American automaker’s DNA in it.

The model is based on the Wuling Hongguang MINIEV, one of the best-selling electric vehicles in China. This super-affordable urban compact car went on sale last summer, and now a convertible version is about to make its debut.

The fixed-roof MINIEV costs the equivalent of about $4,300 USD on the Chinese market. Within 20 days of its debut on July 24, 2020, the Chinese division of Automotive News reported that Wuling had sold 15,000 units and taken orders for over 50,000 more. It is the most popular electric vehicle the group has ever produced.

The MINIEV Cabrio concept makes several visual changes to the four-seat car on which it is based. The headlights and lights have been replaced with video game-style (LED) units, some of the negative spaces in the bumpers and doors have been filled in with more-massive, contrasting-colour trim, and the model rides on sleeker wheels featuring a six-spoke design.

The Hongguang MINIEV Cabrio concept, interior
Photo: Wuling
The Hongguang MINIEV Cabrio concept, interior

Inside, the instrument display has been doubled in width, moving from behind the steering wheel to where the multimedia system screen would normally be. A multi-function steering wheel replaces the simple two-spoke unit of the regular model. Due to the retractable roof, the folding rear seat no longer exists, turning the Hongguang into a two-seater.

The regular Hongguang MINIEV is powered by two battery options, either a 9.3 kWh unit with a range of 120 km or a 13.9 kWh battery capable of offering a freedom of 170 km. The top speed is around 100 km/h, plenty enough for the densely populated streets of major Chinese cities.

With those performance capabilities, it’s clear the model is not a good fit for the North American market, and so has zero chance of making here. On the other hands, its styling, however, could win over quite a few fans.

The SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture was established in 2002, with Chinese auto giant SAIC owning 50.1 percent, GM 44 percent and Wuling the rest.

The model will be unveiled on April 19 as a concept, but reports circulating in China speak of production versions already being tested.

The Hongguang MINIEV Cabrio concept, profile
Photo: Wuling
The Hongguang MINIEV Cabrio concept, profile