Mini EVs are very successful in China, and the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV is the absolute champion of the segment with more than 1 million sales since its launch in July 2020.
Inspired by its success, other brands have recently launched or are preparing to launch competitors for the tiny electric vehicle. The biggest competitors are the Chery QQ Ice Cream (yes, that's its real name) and Changan BenBen E-Star, but Geely recently unveiled a tiny electric city car as well, the Panda Mini EV.
Another serious competitor has been leaked earlier this month, and it comes from the same SAIC-GM-Wuling (SGMW) joint venture that makes the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV.
It's called the Baojun Yep (its Chinese name is YueYe), and it adopts a boxy SUV body that will clearly help it stand out in the mini EV segment. Originally previewed as a concept called Urban Fun Trendy SUV, the production version of the pint-sized electric SUV was previously shown in a video with KiWi branding.
However, in these official photos leaked by Chinese media (via CarNewsChina) it's badged simply as a Baojun – KiWi is a sub-brand used by Baojun's other tiny EV, the KiWi EV. Despite its diminutive size, the boxy two-door SUV looks rugged thanks to the chunky off-road bumpers, bulged wheel arches, and black details such as the A-pillars, roof rails and cladding.
Gallery: 2023 Baojun Yep
Speaking of size, it is an ultra-compact vehicle that measures 3,381 millimeters (133.1 inches) in length, 1,685 mm (66.3 in) in width and 1,721 mm (67.7 in) in height. Its wheelbase measures just 2,110 mm (83 in), while the curb weight is 1,006 kilograms (2,217 pounds).
To get a better sense of its size, the Baojun Yep has roughly the same width and height as the Suzuki Jimny – one of the smallest SUVs on sale today – but it's 264 millimeters (10.4 inches) shorter. While Baojun says the Yep is a four-seat vehicle, the rear seats are likely impossible to live with for an adult considering the vehicle's size.
Despite its rugged looks, the mini SUV is not all-wheel drive, at least not at launch. It features a single electric motor at the rear that makes 50 kilowatts (67 horsepower) and 140 Newton-meters (103 pound-feet) of torque.
The TZ155X050 permanent magnet synchronous drive motor manufactured by the Shuanglin Group enables the Baojun Yep to reach a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph). The motor is powered by an LFP battery pack that offers a CLTC range of 303 kilometers (188 miles). Later on, Baojun will reportedly offer a twin-motor all-wheel-drive version as well.
The model will have its public debut at the 2023 Shanghai Auto Show in April and will launch in China in May.