Mobility Portal, Spain
Date: April 29, 2024
Inés Platini
By Inés Platini

Imminent arrival of Chinese EVs in the EU: Does it truly constitute an “invasion”?

Each month, more foreign electric vehicles are registered in the European continent, although "Chinese car manufacturers are still very small in terms of market share." Below, an analysis of the current situation in the EU.
Geely - chinese electric vehicles evs

Recently, there has been a concern on the continent regarding the imminent arrival of Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), described by some industry players as an “invasion”.

This situation is partly a result of the Asian giant having been producing EVs for many years, while Europe began to focus on this sector only recently with the goal of decarbonising mobility.

However, do Chinese cars really pose a threat to the European Union (EU) today?

Stefan Lundin (Geely Holding).

Stefan Lundin, Head of Public Relations at Geely Holding in Sweden, commented on an article in which Mobility Portal Europe mentioned him.

Upon request, he expanded on his remarks, saying: “Besides Tesla, which accounts for around 40 per cent of the cars produced in China that are exported to the EU, Chinese-based automakers are still very small in terms of market segment.

He adds: “Even in the electric vehicle sector.”

In this regard, considering the registration data published by the consultancy JATO Dynamics, the manufacturer that dominates the most sales in the EU is Tesla.

In 2023, the American company became the biggest market share gainer within the EV segment, with 362,300 registered units, a year-on-year increase of 56 per cent, and a market share of 2.83 per cent.

Following in this segment are SAIC (MG), BMW Group, Toyota, and Mercedes-Benz.

According to the study, in the same year, seven new Chinese brands entered the market, joining the 23 that were already available.

Felipe Munoz (JATO Dynamics).

However, Felipe Munoz, global analyst at JATO Dynamics, comments: “Although they recorded a market share of 2.6 per cent in 2023 (compared to 1.7 per cent in 2022), claims of an ‘invasion’ have been exaggerated.”

Only eight out of the 30 Chinese brands available in Europe registered more than 1,000 units, and MG, the one founded in the United Kingdom but now owned by SAIC Motor of China, accounted for 72 per cent of the total.

This year, according to the latest figures published by the consultancy, electric cars manufactured in the Asian country represented one in five EV registrations in February (20 per cent), and in January-February.

This placed them in third place in the market share of this type of vehicle, behind Germany (33 per cent) and the group of other countries (24 per cent), and ahead of Spain, which follows with seven per cent.

Of these, approximately 44 per cent of all car volumes manufactured in China were registered by Western brands, such as Tesla, Volvo, and Dacia.

Meanwhile, the volume of plug-in hybrid cars produced in this country fell by 62 per cent in February, representing 3.4 per cent of the total from China.

Therefore, Chinese brands accounted for 16 per cent of car registrations manufactured there.

This means that, despite some rushing to accelerate imports to the continent before possible tariffs are applied, manufacturers from that country continue to face challenges in capturing market share in Europe.

Wang Wentao, Chinese Minister of Commerce.

It is worth mentioning the current anti-subsidy investigation being carried out by the European Commission, on which the Chinese Ministry of Commerce has recently commented.

“The reckless distortion by Europe of the definition of subsidies and the lack of openness and transparency in the procedural rules during the investigation is a protectionist act that damages the environment of fair competition,” they noted.

Another reason argued by certain industry players for the alleged “invasion” of Chinese EVs to the EU is their affordable prices.

“The whole current discussion reflects a somewhat strange thinking that ‘somehow the European market is flooded with cheap electric cars from China’,” Stefan Lundin emphasises.

He then refutes: “The ones that are now on the market can hardly be called ‘cheap’, as they are priced on pair with their European counterparts for the most part”. 

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