It’s a known fact that China has become a hotspot for electric vehicles (EVs), especially competitively priced and affordable ones. One market where Chinese EV and hybrid vehicles been surprisingly successful is Europe, and it’s especially due to that region’s rapid shift towards EVs where the demand for affordable options is higher than ever.
As reported by Reuters, customs data reveal that Chinese new energy vehicle sales (which includes both hybrids and EVs) have risen by 112 percent for the first seven months of 2023 compared to a year ago and a staggering 361 percent when compared to 2021. It must be noted, however, that shipments are different from sales, and for that, we have to take a look at the data provided by Automotive News Europe.
Brands like BYD–which was recently acquired by Ayala in the Philippines, and MG have capitalized on this demand for affordable EVs in Europe. The MG4 electric hatch is now one of Europe’s top 40 best-selling cars, and its year-to-date sales as of August 2023 have grown from 132,785 units to 56,671 a year ago.
BYD also managed to increase its sales significantly, though it’s not exactly a difficult number to break since the brand is still establishing a foothold in the region. Still, with 7,077 units sold, that’s a huge increase from the 1,356 units it sold in the first seven months of 2022. The BYD Atto 3 accounts for a huge chunk of the brand’s sales, selling 6,230 units in the first seven months of 2023.
European spinoff brands such as Volvo’s Polestar, both of which are under the Geely Group, have EVs that are all assembled in China. The Polestar 2‘s sales nearly doubled in the first seven months of 2023, growing from 14,248 units to 23,391 units. Sales of the Lotus Eletre, on the other hand, have just begun, and therefore only 78 units have been sold so far. Still, the Eletre has 17,000 bookings so far according to Lotus themselves, so it’s only a matter of time before these are reflected in the brand’s sales charts.
While in raw numbers, Chinese EV and hybrid vehicles still don’t make up a huge chunk of European car sales. However, due to their sheer popularity in the EV segment in the region and price competitiveness, Reuters reports that the European Commission launched an investigation recently on whether to impose punitive tariffs to protect automakers in the European Union from more affordable Chinese EVs.
“Global markets are now flooded with cheaper electric cars. And their price is kept artificially low by huge state subsidies,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in her annual address to the bloc’s parliament.
Currently, import tariffs into the region are at 10%, but a verdict on whether to impose additional tariffs isn’t expected in 13 months. In response to this, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce to the EU said it was very concerned and even opposed to the investigation’s launch. In addition, it states that the competitiveness of Chinese EVs isn’t due to subsidies and would want the EU to view Chinese EVs objectively.