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This is shocking, but not surprising. The second largest country of origin for Battery Electric Vehicles registered in Europe last year was China. These vehicles will account for nearly 15% of battery electric vehicle registrations in 2021, the second-highest share after Germany. China’s origins precede other European countries such as France, where Battery Electric Vehicle production is ramping up significantly.
Of the 1.2 million electric vehicles registered in Europe last year, more than 175,700 were made in China. That doesn’t mean all these cars have Chinese badges. In fact, they only make up 15% of these units, since most of these Chinese-made cars are made by Western OEMs. These include Tesla, Dacia, Polestar and BMW.
The growth in sales of these vehicles has been phenomenal. In 2019, only MG (owned by China’s SAIC) sold Chinese-made EVs. That year, the brand registered 1,738 units. A year later, at the height of the pandemic, MG increased sales to nearly 13,000, followed by 9,755 Polestar, Dacia Spring and other smaller Chinese brands in Europe. A total of 25,507 electric vehicles made in China were registered this year.
In just three years, these vehicles have grown from a paltry 0.5 percent of the Battery Electric Vehicle market to 14.7 percent. Meanwhile, German-made Battery Electric Vehicles accounted for 17.3% of the market in 2019, rising to 19.7% last year. The share of other countries such as France fell from 21.4% in 2020 to 11.4% in 2021.
The main reasons for this exponential growth are China’s huge production capacity and the narrowing of quality and product differences between China and developed countries. Almost all European, North American, Japanese and Korean automakers have large factories in China.
This is the case with Electric cars made in China like Tesla, which recently started production at its Berlin plant, so its factories in the US and China are meeting demand. Last year, Chinese-made cars accounted for 52% of Tesla’s registrations in Europe. The U.S. manufacturer was actually the largest Chinese importer of electric vehicles last year, ahead of Dacia, MG and Polestar.
Another factor that is actively driving more adoption of Chinese-made Electric Vehicles is build quality. Given current quality standards, it’s hard to tell where a car is made.
Globalization has forced many OEMs to develop global products and manufacture/export everywhere. For example, the Polestar 2 produced at the Luqiao CMA Super Factory in Zhejiang Luqiao has the same build quality as a Belgian or Swedish Volvo.
This is just the beginning of the Battery Electric Vehicle wave in China. Unlike the internal combustion engine market, the Chinese have an edge over the West when it comes to electric vehicles. They have greater capacity and more support from the central government.
Because of this, China is not only the largest electric vehicle market in the world, but will soon become the largest exporter of electric vehicles.
Volkswagen Group, Mercedes-Benz or some other brands of Japanese manufacturers are expected to start selling their Chinese-made electric cars abroad, and Europe should be ready. Especially its factories and workers.
We are going to make the same mistake with China that we made with Russia, these Corporations will never learn.
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