The Sub-$9,000 EV That Positions China as a Market Leader


In America, the federal government offers a tax credit for buyers of electric vehicles (EVs) to help offset their purchases, but it begins to phase out when auto manufacturers hit the threshold of 200,000 EVs sold — a position Tesla and GM both have recently found themselves in.

So if you want a nicely subsidized EV, you can just buy one from literally almost any other automaker — but if you want a heavily subsidized one, you might move to China where the government will offset your purchase price upwards of $10,000.

Initiatives combining national and local programs are what’s allowing China’s Great Wall Motors to debut an electric with a take-home price of less than $9,000. For a comparison in our neck of the woods: even the two-seater EV from notoriously tiny brand Smart will, after the federal credit, cost you twice that.

The Ora R1 hatchback from Great Wall is said to offer a range of 194 miles between charges and even comes with four doors. Its target is the commuter market in this massively populous country, and it runs on a humble 47 horsepower with a top speed of about 62 miles per hour. Experts say it should be capable of powering commuters for about a week per charge, based on real-world driving patterns.

Tesla, which very recently broke ground on its own factory in Shanghai, is said to be targeting the high-end Chinese market for electrics, leaving plenty of room for more affordable options like the Ora R1. A report by New Atlas says that these types of lower cost EVs, which should sell in high volumes, accomplish two things for China: They help address the aggressive smog problems, and they also position China well as electric vehicle demand begins to ramp up globally.

But even as they eye global sales, don’t get your hopes up. If the Ora R1 were to come to America, you’d lose the China subsidy and add tariffs and transportation costs, giving you a price that’s at, or higher, what you’d pay for something that’s already on the U.S. market today.

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