Thus, China enters the European market

Thus, China enters the European market

BarcelonaThe electric car is considered the spearhead of the Chinese automobile industry to break into the rest of the global markets. There is one fact that makes it clear: in the last quarter of 2023, the Chinese company BYD took first place on the electric car sales platform, surpassing Elon Musk's Tesla. The Shenzhen-based brand recorded 526,409 100% electric units in the fourth quarter of last year. Tesla has registered 484,507 vehicles worldwide.

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The rise in sales of the Chinese brand does not respond to the bite of Elon Musk's company, because Tesla, despite losing first place, grew by 20%. In other words, the rise of the Chinese brand is mainly due to its growth, and not only in the Chinese market, where there is more and more government aid for the electrification of the automobile industry – something that It makes it possible to offer cheaper cars to the market than European cars With the competitive advantage this entails, but with increased sales in the rest of the world. A study by Natixis CIB provides insight into China's dominance of the global electric vehicle market. 41% of global electric vehicle exports are Chinese (including exports of foreign brands that manufacture in China, such as Tesla), while in 2019, just before the pandemic, they were 21%. In addition, 52% of electric and hybrid vehicle sales come from Chinese brands.

The study highlights that the Asian giant dominates not only the electric car industry, but also the value chain: between January and September last year, two out of three electric car batteries were manufactured in China. 32% of the cars exported by China go to the European Union, its second market after the Asia-Pacific region (34%), far ahead of the United Kingdom (9%), America (7%), or the Near East (8%). %).

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The case of the BYD brand is exemplary. It was the first in the world to sell more than 300,000 electric cars in one month. In 2024, the company focused on its global expansion, especially in the European market. The Chinese attack has forced traditional car companies in Europe to respond, especially groups such as Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes. The reaction paid off: Volkswagen overtook Tesla in the German market and increased electric car sales in this market by 11%. The other two major German brands, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, increased their sales of electric cars by 72.2% and 45.8%, respectively.

But the Chinese attack is huge. He recently explained that the Asian giant has become the world's number one automobile exporter, replacing Japan, the traditional global leader for years, and overtaking other market leaders such as the United States or South Korea. New York times. Moreover, this boost comes from the electric vehicle: one in four cars sold in China is battery-powered.

Europe is in the Chinese crosshairs, as tariffs and a trade war make it difficult for them to enter the United States. According to consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, in 2025, the Asian giant will export 800,000 cars to Europe, most of them electric. The consultant says that the Chinese “have improved and developed their products in the local market, and this allows them to produce electricity at a lower cost and obtain innovative technology.” According to the management of the Asian giant, the Chinese auto industry's goal is to export 8 million cars by 2030.

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European research

The aggressive trade policy of Chinese brands has already raised alarm bells in Europe. A large part of the success of the Asian giant's electric cars depends on the price, which is considered much more competitive than the price of cars made in Europe. “China is a very strong competitor and is moving beyond its borders,” explains Sergio Alcaraz, president of the Catalonia Automotive Industry Group (CIAC). However, Alcaraz is confident that Europe will “definitely design an industrial strategy” to deal with this attack.

However, the CIAC President points out that one thing is the attack of Chinese manufacturers on Europe with their exports, and something completely different is the possible industrial implantation of the Asian giant's producers on the Old Continent. In this move by the Chinese industry, the CIAC president sees an opportunity to move the sector's value chain from Europe and is sure that “European agents will have the ability to respond.”

Despite this optimism about the industrial reaction in Europe, there are also hopes on the part of manufacturers in their defense at the hands of societal authorities. Last September, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced an investigation against the subsidies that China gives for its electric cars, on suspicion that prices are “artificially low” due to these public aids and mean losses for its electric cars. European companies. “Global markets are flooded with cheap Chinese electric cars, and their prices are kept artificially low thanks to huge government subsidies,” the German explained during her State of the Union address to the European Parliament.

For the head of the European executive, the electric car industry is “essential” for the move towards a “clean” economy and has “great potential” for Europe, but public aid to the Asian giant “distorts the market.” “Our companies are highly excluded from foreign markets or are victims of predatory practices. They are often weakened by competitors who benefit from significant government subsidies,” von der Leyen said. EU policy noted that the EU was “open to competition” and not “to race.” Towards the bottom.”

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Competitor and partner

European brands are making a significant investment to move to the electric vehicle. For example, in Spain alone, Seat and Volkswagen planned to invest about 10,000 million euros, the largest industrial bet ever in the country, said Wayne Griffiths, head of the Martorell brand. But at the same time, European brands – and some from the US, like Tesla – cannot afford to ignore China as a customer or trading partner. The Elon Musk brand has a factory in Shanghai. BMW has more than 30,000 employees in China, and announced a few months ago that it would invest $1.4 billion in a battery assembly plant at its factory in Shenyang. Volkswagen, which counts China as its largest market, has a large part of its manufacturing and supply chain there. In fact, Catalan Cupra brand's first 100% electric SUV, Tavascan, will be manufactured at its industrial park in Anhui.

José López Taval, director general of the manufacturers' association ANVAC, believes that 2023 data from the Spanish market show that “the electric vehicle continues to advance” but not at the “necessary” pace. “We ended the year with a market share of 12%, up only two percentage points on the previous year: this is a disappointing result.”

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