Chinese EV manufacturers confident about road ahead in European market
Natalie Carney in Munich
Chinese electric vehicle automakers continue to make inroads into the European market, driving into the New Year with confidence. The plug-in EV market is rapidly expanding across Europe with an increase of roughly 66 percent seen between 2021 and 2022.
Some of that is due to the availability of more affordable vehicles produced in China.
According to Rainer Mehl, the managing director for Capgemini's automotive department, Chinese EV manufacturers are increasing their presence in global markets, particularly in the European Union where they are not subjected to high import tariffs compared to the U.S. and other markets.
"We see Niu in Norway as the first market. We see XPeng willing to enter the European Union," he tells CGTN.
And with the sale of new diesel vehicles being banned across the EU come 2035, "if a customer wants to have a future-ready car, this is an electric vehicle," he adds.
Chinese manufacturers such as Great Wall Motor, Geely and SAIC Motor have recently launched or are planning to do so in Europe's auto-market this year.
The improvement of supply chains following COVID-19 disruptions, alongside better brand image, is providing further confidence for Chinese manufacturers and buyers, says Alex Klose, the vice president for overseas markets at Ai-Ways, the first Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer start-up to enter the European market.
"We thought there would be a big demand," he says of the market when they entered it in 2020. "And then what happened is that demand turned out to be even bigger than everybody assumed."
Ripe for expansion
Klose says the timing is ripe for expansion. While demand is increasing, the reputability of German-made combustion engine brands, which have traditionally held a large European market share, doesn't necessarily translate in the EV market, he says.
"Yes the brand is important, but people will look at that brand and will understand that it is an internal combustion brand and that doesn't necessarily say anything about battery electric vehicles."
He argues that there is no difference between new EV manufacturers and traditional OEMs, saying "they are as young to the battery electric vehicle market as we are."
Last year, many local German brands lost domestic EV market share to French, South Korean and U.S. rivals.
China's reputation for lower-cost production is now also being complemented by new safety ratings, one of the main factors that has long increased German brand reputation.
In 2022, two of China's Great Wall Motor's models, Ora and Way, received a full five-star safety score from European New Car Assessment Program, NCAP.
All of this is winning over European drivers and large corporate customers. Germany's biggest car rental company, Sixt, has announced it would buy 100,000 Atto 3s, made by the Chinese manufacturer BYD over the next few years.