GM is Selling a Cheap Electric Car. Here’s Why You Can’t Have It


GM has announced that it will start selling a 2-seat mini electric vehicle in China that’s smaller than the Smart Car by ten inches. The Baojun E100 comes in at a sticker price of about $15 grand, but after national and local electric vehicle incentives kick in, the cost could be as low as $5,300.

The car features a 39-horsepower electric motor and tops out at 63 miles per hour. GM says it can achieve a 96-mile run on a single full charge. And for the price, that’s not all – even the base models offer safety features such as parking sensors and pedestrian alert systems, and the higher end models have keyless entry, touchpads, and dashboard screens with Wifi.

While there are probably scores of us who could benefit from this kind of a low-cost ride, there are a few reasons why China is probably the market for this and not the United States. For one, Chinese drivers – and its government – exhibit a strong interest in electric vehicles. Currently, the country accounts for 40 percent of electric vehicle sales globally.

And secondly, Americans are so preoccupied with low gas prices that a tiny electric car like this one probably wouldn’t sell here, even at a bargain basement price.

Third, the federal government’s tax credit on electric cars was designed to entice buyers into the market, but each eligible automaker burns up their tax credit allotment once they reach 200,000 electrics sold. With GM’s Chevy Volt and Bolt already in play, GM is expected to be out of credits sometime in 2018. This led Edmunds to predict in April that the end of the tax credit will effectively mean the end of the U.S. EV market as well.

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