business, companies, autos, transport and logistics, electric cars, general motors goes against the herd in china and lands a second hit with its petrol-guzzling suv in a field of electric vehicles

General Motors has scored a second hit in China with a petrol-guzzling sports-utility vehicle (SUV) powered by an internal combustion engine even as it went against the herd in a market that is embracing electric cars at a breakneck pace.

The Xingchen SUV, with a catalogue price between 69,800 yuan (US$10,830) and 99,800 yuan, sold more than 10,000 units since its launch on September 27, according to a statement by General Motors’ venture SAIC-GM-Wuling, adding that there is a “buying euphoria” for the vehicle.

Xingchen, which means stars in Chinese, is the second blockbuster in two years for General Motors’ three-way venture since a two-seat version of the US$5,000 Hongguan Mini EV stole the limelight at the Shanghai Auto Show in April, outselling larger, better-known and pricier electric cars made by Tesla and others. The Xingchen SUV runs on petroleum, making its runaway success particularly noteworthy in a market where three of every five new vehicles to enter China’s roads in 2030 will be run by battery packs, according to UBS’ forecast.

Sales of petrol-guzzling vehicles fell to 1.39 million units in September, a slump of 23 per cent from a year ago, according to data provided by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA). Sales of new-energy vehicles – comprising battery-powered electric cars, plug-in petrol-electric hybrids and those that run on hydrogen fuel cells – soared 202 per cent in the same month to 334,000 units in the same period.

business, companies, autos, transport and logistics, electric cars, general motors goes against the herd in china and lands a second hit with its petrol-guzzling suv in a field of electric vehicles

SAIC-GM-Wuling’s Hongguang MINI EV, on display at the Auto Shanghai trade show on April 20, 2021. Photo: Reuters.

“The successful launch of Xingchen adds to the body of evidence that proves that the low-end car market is still largely untapped with huge consumer demand,” said Eric Han, a senior manager with Shanghai-based business advisory firm Suolei. “SAIC-GM-Wuling is the champion of the segment now.”

In China’s vehicle market, the world’s largest since 2009, monthly delivery of 10,000 vehicles is generally accepted as the minimum for a certifiable blockbuster. The Hongguan, a three-door mini car that can travel up to 170 kilometres on a single charge for a starting price of 28,800 yuan, was such a hit, selling 270,000 units in the first 270 days of its launch in mid-2020.

Xingchen, a five-seat SUV, is powered by a 1.5-litre engine. It is the first SUV since 2002 by SAIC-GM-Wuling, best known as a producer of low-priced minivans and mini buses popular in China’s smaller cities and villages. The new SUV model sports an eight-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch touch screen command centre. The vehicle’s infotainment system runs on Wuling’s Ling OS operating system.

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