GM Creates the Perfect Blue Ocean Commuter Car

The top speed between home and work is 90 kph. My daughter I are rarely able to go that fast. Sometimes we’ll stop on the way home, trying to fit our SUV — big enough for the guests we frequently have — into small parking spaces. Recharging every night or two is no problem. Plus my employer has vehicle plug-in spots so I could recharge at work.

Our newest friends just came to Europe from the US. They’re looking for cars but don’t want to spend too much. Their needs are similar to ours.

Fuel prices here are about double what they cost in the US. That SUV that we like, and that we do frequently fill with people and things (though not always), seems to have a hole in the gas tank. Plus there are the fuel strikes.

In the Baojun E100 GM has created the perfect car. For some reason they’re only selling them in China and, even then, only selling 200 of them. Maybe it’s a loss leader though they can jack up the price and I’m sure they’d sell countless of them in Europe. Even Americans with short commutes might buy them.

This car is a no-brainer. Limiting distribution to one country is … well, GM.

The Daily Mail reports the Baojun is supposed to “take on” Tesla’s Model 3.

When I’m not pontificating about buybacks and economics I’m studying innovation and growth; that’s my day job. More to the point the growth I study is at the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute where I am an Institute Executive Fellow, a senior research fellow.

The Baojun is not going to “take on” the Tesla Model 3, or the Chevy Bolt. It could compete with a SMART Car but that’s iffy since entry-level SMART cars, powered by internal combustion engines, start at $12,000, over twice the price. Electric SMART cars, that have about the same range and a similar feature set, start at $23,800.

The Baojun does not compete with Tesla, or the Bolt, or the SMART Car: it’s in a category by itself. It renders the rest of them irrelevant.

This is an example of growth, of substantive innovation. Looking at the Baojun it’s unclear how GM produces it at a low enough price to sell for $5,000 but — unless they’re taking a massive loss on every car — they’ve made some change to enable this.

It’s not features: the Baojun is tiny but big enough for two people, a computer and school bag, and a couple bags of groceries.

There is a full-blown GPS system plus it works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The GPS “screen” is your phone. This makes sense: there’s no need for an expensive separate GPS screen.

It’s top speed, ten kph above the fastest speed limit for our daily commute, is just fine. It’s range is more than enough. I’m not sure about safety but nothing moves fast enough during our morning and afternoon commute to do much damage anyway.

The only problem with the Baojun is that it’s impossible to buy one.

Author: Michael Olenick

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