Little by little, more Chinese car brands are coming to Europe, but this wave is very different from that of a few years ago. This time they are not copies, nor are they very cheap, nor do they have poor quality. Will they be a threat this time?
In the last quarter of 2022 new additions will arrive in Europe, mainly from BYD Y CHILD, which are two manufacturers that have a fairly cutting-edge product. BYD prices are not exactly cheap, 38,000 euros for the Atto 3 and 72,000 euros for Tang and Han. They are all 100% electric.
For its part, NIO makes the leap to the first markets within the European Union, starting with Germany, with a price of 69,900 euros for the ET7 sedan. Later on, the lower priced ET5 will arrive, which is already starting its commercial adventure in China.
In addition, XPeng put a fee of 48,000 euros on the P5 sedan. Reservations were blocked in June due to the possibility of not meeting their delivery commitments to Norwegians, Germans, Dutch and Danes. The P7 model can be imported to Spain, but for 64,000 euros.
Tesla Model Y
And no, prices are not affordable. Let’s take a look at last year’s figures. 14.7% of electric cars imported into Europe came from China, the Model 3/Y half of Tesla. The rest is divided between the Dacia Spring Electric, all MG (SAIC), Maxus vans, BMW iX3, some Polestar, MINI Cooper SE, Geely LYNC&CO, a few Volvo, etc.
All these cars have much more sophistication than the junk that tried to come more than 10 years ago and ended in resounding commercial failure; they were cheap, but they weren’t good cars. This time we are talking about electric cars with power, technological interiors, double motor, advanced driving assistants, etc.
The commercial presence of older Chinese brands is very scarce, being able to mention DFSK, DR (which are rebranded as Chery and JAC)… The Chinese product that we thought of a few years ago is not coming out of there. At the time, the Euro 6 regulations were an important barrier, but with the electric ones, well, that is useless.
As the arrival of NIOs, XPeng, BYD, Polestar increases… the weight of Chinese manufacturers will increase in Europe, but we are not going to talk about mass market. Not even electric cars. Until August, the groups of Volkswagen, Stellantis, Hyundai/Kia, BMW and Mercedes-Benz captured 68.2% of the plug-in vehicle market.
Chinese brands are not going to make any “breaks” in the market in the short term. Its main problem is the lack of knowledge on the part of the consumer, a very small commercial network, the classic fear that there will be no spare parts due to the lack of a European warehouse… Even something as solid as Polestar has a discreet role in its market segment .
Tesla has been another thing, but it is that before starting its operations in China it was already a well-known brand, and it happens like Apple’s iPhones, which are designed in the United States and manufactured in China (at least those that arrive to Europe, basically they come from there). Consumer perception is another. Same with MG or smart (from the new generation), which will come from China, but they are not unknown.
smart #1, a Chinese-made product, but with its share of Mercedes at 50%
Traditional manufacturers are not in a vulnerable or defenseless situation. They cannot produce everything they would like, the Chinese have an advantage there, but it is the Chinese produce mainly for themselves and allocate contained volumes for export. Its domestic demand is very strong.
If we look back and ask ourselves how the koreans or the japanese penetrated, it was mainly with cars that most people could buy: utility, compact, sedans and some off-road or SUV. And that on its own (as Toyota did) or with an alliance (as Honda did, hand in hand with British Leyland). With expensive cars it would have cost them a lot more.
Until the Chinese are able to bring to Europe in large quantities cars from the best-selling segments, which at the moment are B, C, D and their respective SUVs, they will have a more or less important role, but nothing to burst the market with its prices. Because adding 10% tariffs, margins and taxes, they cannot put the same prices as in China. It is impossible.