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China EV Exports Surge

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In 2018, my wife and I did a tour of China. We were impressed by the speed of change evident around us as the government lifted millions from poverty. Did your parents motivate you to eat your dinner by exhorting: “Think of the starving millions in China!” Some areas were very primitive and rural (the toilets were quite indicative) and others were extremely high tech and futuristic — with holograms of whales swimming across the high-rise buildings around our hotel.

One morning, I sat on the end of the bed and read the Global Times, which was delivered to us daily. The article about China’s ambitious plans to dominate the world auto industry with electric car manufacturing caught my eye. I read with incredulity because most Chinese EVs at that time were very poorly built or in small numbers from joint ventures with western OEMs.

Fast forward to 2022 and a recent report from Bloomberg and it looks like China’s ambitions are being realised “… with 342,000 passenger EVs exported in the first three quarters of the year. That’s 29% of all vehicle exports in this segment and a big increase from 2019, when EVs accounted for just 2% of exports.”

As everyone knows, China now dominates world EV battery and battery material supplies. “BNEF’s recently published Lithium-Ion Battery Price Survey shows battery pack prices were 33% higher in Europe than in China and 24% higher in the US. The average price of a battery-electric vehicle in China in 2021 was $26,500, which is less than two-thirds of the average EV transaction price in Europe and less than half of those in the US.”

Interestingly, a top EV exporter from China is none other than American firm Tesla. Its Shanghai gigafactory is producing so many electric cars that many of them supply other markets. It will export more than 200,000 EVs from China to other parts of the world (most notably Europe) in 2022. Aside from Tesla, though, Renault and BMW are a couple of other foreign automakers who produce electric cars in China for export abroad, and Volkswagen will join them in 2023.

And then you’ve got the Chinese brands themselves. “SAIC saw its EV exports jump to 78,000 vehicles in the first three quarters, mostly with the MG brand that it acquired in 2007. Rival BYD exported 22,000 vehicles and plans to do a lot more volume in 2023 as it continues to enter new markets. Companies including Xpeng, Nio and Great Wall also have announced big expansion plans.

“That’s all starting to show up in the EV sales figures in other countries. Of the 1.8 million EVs sold in Europe in the first three quarters of this year, 11% came from Chinese automakers, up from 2% in 2020.”

While many European and American auto companies talk about eventually selling more EVs than Tesla, or being second to Tesla, they often ignore the fast growing Chinese automakers that look intent on surpassing them — or that are already well beyond them. There are at least a half dozen fast-growing EV companies in China. Furthermore, there is only one company neck and neck with Tesla in EV sales, and that is China’s BYD. For more on that comparison, see:

Note that BYD completely ended production of non-plugin vehicles in February 2022.

The USA used to produce 25% of global EVs, with Europe making up 25% and the remaining 50% coming from China. The numbers have changed and are continuing to do so. China’s dominance has been growing. Perhaps the IRA will help the USA to regain some EV market share.

Electric car podium in Australia — BYD Atto 3, Tesla Model 3, MG ZS EV (L to R). Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Here in Australia, the top three best selling EVs are from Tesla (made in China), the BYD Atto 3 (made in China), and SAIC’s MG ZS EV (made in China).

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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].


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