Europe forecast to import 800,000 Chinese-built cars by 2025

Europe forecast to import 800,000 Chinese-built cars by 2025

Automotive News Europe — 2022-11-07

Automotive Industry

By 2025, up to 800,000 Chinese-built cars could be sold in Europe, most of them full-electric vehicles, analyst PwC said in a study.

Such a development would turn Europe to a net importer of cars, PwC said, with a 2025 import surplus of more than 221,000 vehicles. In 2015, Europe exported about 1.7m vehicles.

The shift will come as Chinese brands increase market share and, at the same time, European brands build more EVs in China, PwC said.

Of the potential 800,000 Chinese-built cars, about 330,00 would be from Western automakers such as Tesla, BMW and Renault Group, all of which currently export EVs to Europe from China, including the Tesla Model 3, the BMW iX3 and the Dacia Spring.

While Chinese manufacturers are selling more and more BEVs in Europe, both European and American manufacturers are increasingly shifting their BEV production to China,” PwC said in a news release.

Felix Kuhnert, partner and automotive leader at PwC Germany, said European automakers continued to face supply chain issues and were focusing on building more-expensive (and lower-volume) EVs in Europe. “Chinese manufacturers, on the other hand, have optimized and developed their products in the domestic market, so that they are now bringing affordable BEV models, innovative technology and novel concepts to Europe,” Kuhnert said in the release.

Earlier efforts by Chinese brands to enter the European market have largely failed, PwC and other analysts said, but China’s expertise in full-electric vehicles could be a competitive advantage this time around.

Chinese [automakers] are now seeking to consolidate their foothold in Europe,” PwC said. “Compared to their previous market entries in the past decade, the playing field has now been significantly leveled.” 

PwC is forecasting that Chinese brands will have an EV market share of 3.8% to 7.9% in Europe.

Brand perception is key

Much of that depends on how the brands are perceived, PwC said, adding that “Chinese brands are still relatively unknown in Europe, and have much work to do to build a strong BEV reputation, particularly when it comes to premium models.”

In another recent report, electrification analyst Matthias Schmidt said that about 200,000 vehicles from Chinese brands are likely to be sold in Europe this year, with about 90,000 full-electric, 40,000 plug-in hybrids and the rest with conventional drivetrains.

At the same time, Western brands will export about 100,000 full-electric vehicles to Europe from their Chinese manufacturing sites, Schmidt said in September 2022.

The leading Chinese EV makers through the first seven months of the year are SAIC’s MG and Geely’s Polestar, Schmidt said. Other brands such as Nio and XPeng have so far struggled to make an impact. In Western Europe, Chinese brands had a 5.2% share of the EV market in the first half of 2022, compared with 3.8% in the first half of 2021.

Significant volumes are expected next year from Smart, Geely’s and Mercedes-Benz’s joint venture, which will build its new generation of EVs in China rather than in Europe.