A $5000 electric car

One of my worst predictions ever was a 2003 forecast that, by 2023, the Chinese would be able to sell a basic car for $3,000 in 2003 dollars (about $4,300 in today’s money, adjusted via the BLS CPI calculator). I further thought that Americans, instead of burying themselves in debt to buy a needlessly fancy car, would get around in these $4,300 cars.

The market has moved in the opposite direction, with cars over $40,000 being average (USA Today).

Perhaps there is hope, though! “Tesla’s Nemesis in China Is a Tiny $5,000 Electric Car From GM” (Bloomberg):

The Hongguang MINI EV, made by SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co., is currently the hottest EV in China, the world’s biggest automobile market. Sales of the compact four-seater beat industry giant Tesla Inc. in August, with consumers wowed by its tiny price tag — the EV retails for between 28,800 yuan ($4,230) and 38,800 yuan — and its ability to run for as many as 170 kilometers (106 miles) on a single charge. Orders exceeded 30,000 units in just 50 days.

“A lot of consumers don’t need anything fancy, a commute is all they ask from a car,” said Yale Zhang, founder of AutoForesight, a Shanghai-based consultancy. “I’m all for a product like the MINI EV.”

Maybe by 2023 this will be improved? It already has a top speed of 62 mph, according to Wikipedia. That’s nearly double my proposed speed limit that will keep Americans safe.

The interior:

The exterior:

The commercial..

With two more years of Chinese-speed innovation, why wouldn’t this be a good car for Americans?

10 thoughts on “A $5000 electric car

  1. > One of my worst predictions ever was a 2003 forecast…that Americans, instead of burying themselves in debt to buy a needlessly fancy car, would get around in these $4,300 cars. The market has moved in the opposite direction, with cars over $40,000 being average.

    It has nothing to do with your intelligence or ability to analyze technology. It is because you have not yet internalized Alex’s Iron Law of Deplorable Life: “Pick the worst case scenario you can envision and then imagine it getting worse.”

    Look at all the things we might have imagined happening in 2003…and compare them to where we are:

    1) Balanced budget with a high-growth, investment-friendly economy: YOU, sir, are DELUDED!
    2) A true American “melting pot” with all the benefits that accrue from the decline of identity politics and racial/ethnic tensions? You’ve got to be KIDDING ME!
    3) In the unlikely event of a pandemic, we’d have a coordinated and sane response based on sound science and the limitations thereof which anticipates the need for things like face masks, and reserves some spare production capacity in the US to handle it? HAHAHAHAH.
    4) An economy that encourages people not to get into crushing debt for things that are actually liabilities, like cars, higher education that is worse than high school was 30 years ago and doesn’t prepare people for the workforce while costing 500% more, housing prices that are affordable for the average working American who doesn’t have a seat in an elite lifeboat? Are you INSANE?

    And on, and on, and on. In America now, whenever you make a prediction about the future, you have to assume that the policies and outcomes will always – without any exceptions – end up circling the drain, and hit the people who can afford them least the hardest.

    As far as that teeny-tiny car is concerned, it may have a niche market among the newly impoverished and masochistic, but look at it this way: In 2017, the SMART car went for $7,726 to $14,754. It got just EPA-estimated 34 MPG combined, not particularly great, but it went a lot faster and farther than that little bug you’re looking at.

    I wouldn’t want to drive it in a Massachusetts winter. By the time it’s built up enough to handle the average American driver with all the airbags, safety systems and accoutrements, I predict the cost at $12,000 minimum. Still, it could have a niche.

    As long as you don’t listen to too much Anthony Rodia Comedy:


    Call me a doubter.

    • It isn’t going to go over very well in flyover country where you have to drive the whole family + dog and a few bales of hay 50 miles in the snow to the nearest Walmart. But who knows, they’re gonna get a lot poorer in the next few years, and if the government subsidizes them, they’ll be forced to take them. Coastal elites in cities will love it. I predict Great Barrington will buy 10 or 20 of them and use them to share rides to the local marijuana dispensary.

    • Alex, thank you so much for this Anthony Rodia Comedy link! I’m watching one video after another and can’t stop laughing. I think this channel is better than 99% of the “comedy” movies released these days.

    • @AlexB: Thanks, he’s of one of relatively few bright spots recently. He’s a gifted man and very funny. A little “blue” but not too much. He reminds me of a good friend from many years ago. He’s from Westchester, NY but could be from certain parts of New Jersey! 🙂

  2. https://policyadvice.net/insurance/insights/electric-car-statistics/
    “1. The latest report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that by 2040, 58% of global passenger vehicle sales will come from electric vehicles. At the same time, they will make up less than 33% of all the cars on the road.
    2. Batteries make up about 40% of the value of an electric car, and China currently controls two-thirds of the worldwide cell manufacturing industry.
    3. China is the largest growth contributor to global plug-in sales
    In the first half of 2019, EV sales in China increased by a whopping 66%. Europe, on the other hand, is still being held back by tight inventories with a growth rate of 35%, whereas in the US, the growth rate was around 22%.. Norway has the largest EV usage of all countries

    58% of new car sales in Norway were electrically chargeable in the first half of 2019. Iceland takes second place with 18%, followed by Sweden with an 11% EV market share.

    Source: EV-Volumes

    5. The US sold 328,118 electric cars in 2018

    This translates to a 75% year-over-year increase which proves that the US is indeed driving the mass adoption of electric vehicles. Data also shows that Californians, in particular, are interested in EVs, contributing a massive 153,442 EV sales in 2018.

    Source: EVAdoption

    6. By 2024, the electric vehicle charging station market is expected to reach a CAGR of 38%

    A lot of people are skeptical of the benefits of electric cars; the fact that there’s a gas station situated every few miles (which cannot be said for EV charging stations) only adds to this notion. However, as the global EV sales increase in number, this too will change. As of now, there are more than 57,000 charging outlets and 20,000 charging stations in the US alone.

    Source: BusinessWire

    7. By 2030, there will be around 4 million EVs in California alone

    The growing number of charging outlets and plug-in power stations have greatly contributed to the boom of EVs. What’s more, thanks to faster charging and more efficient batteries, long-distance travel is now more viable in the US. Hence, if this electric car sales trend continues, Californians can expect to see some 4 million EVs on the road 10 years from now.
    As illustrated on the map below, California is not the only state in the US that is welcoming the idea of using EVs over traditional, fossil-fuel vehicles; there’s a noticeable spike in EV usage in New York, Washington, Florida, and Texas as well.”
    China, producer of 80% of earth rare metals, used in EVs, considers stopping rare metal exports to US https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Markets/Commodities/China-tightens-rare-earth-regulations-policing-entire-supply-chain

    • In 2018 there were over 15 million registered cars in California… 2030 doesn’t look like a “tipping point”.

  3. Pretty sure despite all the talk, Chinese cars are nowhere near the required safety standards. $40,000 is worth around $10000 in 2003, for those of us paying rent.

  4. Will the car’s range automatically adjust to my social credit score? If so I’d be better off walking.

  5. I have to say, though: That video is fantastic. It makes me want to be 30 years younger and move to China. Families enjoying life, lots of men, women and babies, looking good and really enjoying their freedom. It’s a very aspirational, upbeat video and reminds me of nothing so much as American car advertising from the ’50s. The station wagon is a bit smaller, but the joy quotient is the same. Complete with the little Pug, stylin’ on the skateboard. Clean-cut kids having fun and living life, no tattoos or piercings, totally ungloomy, very binary-resister. “I’m Happy, Happy, Happy!”

    This century belongs to China lock, stock and barrel. We have destroyed ourselves from within by internalizing self-hating neo-Gramscian bullshit.


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