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Future models - Baojun - E100

GM shrinks the EV with Baojun hatch

Power down: The Chinese-built Baojun E100 has only 29kW of power from its electric motor, but still manages 100km/h.

Pint-sized Baojun E100 set to take GM electric vehicles to the Chinese masses

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9 Aug 2017

By RON HAMMERTON

MEET the smallest, cheapest and quirkiest car in the General Motors armoury – the Chinese-built, all-electric Baojun E100.

Designed as a step up from the electric bicycles and motor scooters that swarm through city seats in the world’s biggest motor market, the China-only three-door hatchback is being launched under the Baojun brand by SAIC-GM-Wuling – a joint venture of GM and Chinese partners SAIC Motor and Liuzhou Wuling Motors.

Half as long as a Holden Commodore at 2488mm and almost 400mm narrower at 1506mm, the two-seat city runabout can travel up to 150km on a full charge of its lithium-ion batteries.

Top speed is said to be 100km/h, even though its single electric motor delivers a puny 29kW of power to the front wheels. As always with electric vehicles (EVs), torque is the key, topping out at 110Nm in this case.

Charging via a port hidden behind the Baojun horse head badge on the grille (Baojun means treasure horse in Chinese) takes 7.5 hours on a standard household electricity socket.

Looking similar in concept to Daimler’s Smart Fortwo, the E100 boasts a simply but funky interior with bright pastel highlights.

In a cute touch, the brake and accelerator pedals are emblazoned with large plus and minus signs respectively.

A console-mounted knob is used to select drive, reverse and park, while an eight-inch digital display in front of the driver incorporates speedo, tacho, battery charge readout and other functions.

Luggage space behind the twin seats is sufficient for a few shopping bags.

As its city habitat dictates, the E100 has a tight turning radius of 3.7 metres.

Electric steering, Wi-Fi and parking sensors are available on both variants, with the up-market version gaining a touchpad, air filter and keyless entry.

Thanks to Chinese government subsidies for EVs, the cheaper of two Baojun E100 variants sells for just 35,800 yuan ($A6781).

So far, the new model is only available in limited numbers in SAIC-GM-Wuling’s home city of Liuzhou, in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi, seemingly as a toe-in-the-water exercise ahead of a possible roll out across China where several major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have restrictions on fossil-fuel-powered motor vehicles.

The first batch of 200 vehicles drew a queue of 5000 potential buyers. The company says a second batch of 500 will go on sale this week, with Chinese motoring pundits predicting a sell-out success.

SAIC-GM-Wuling is GM’s “home brand” Chinese producer, pumping out two million vehicles a year – 20 per cent of GM global sales.

Last week, former Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux became executive vice-president of the Chinese company, which is China’s biggest passenger vehicle producer behind western brands such as Volkswagen and Chevrolet.

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