MILAN, March 24 (Class Editori) -- Chinese electric car manufacturers are ready to move towards Europe, thus confirming the beginning of one of a debate that will animate the sector this year. A trend already started in 2020, considering that, according to the latest European Electric Car Report, the total sales volume of Chinese EV brands in the 18 main European automotive markets was of 23,836 units in 2020, that is 13 times higher compared to the same period in 2019, currently accounting for a market share equal to 3.3 percent.
BYD, Dongfeng and Geely are just some of the Groups that are clearly rising in Europe, with programs focused not only on the sale of electric cars, but also of components. For example, BYD, the Shenzhen-based Group whose shareholders include Warren Buffett and which already supplies electric buses to cities such as Turin, is about to open its first battery factory in Europe with the aim of providing components to retail customers in the Old Continent, thus expanding its business.
Although it is not yet known where the factory will be based, the plan is at an advanced stage as confirmed by the opening of applications for engineers to work in the factory. A move that follows, for example, the one made by another electric battery manufacturer, CATL, which entered Europe with a plant in Germany at the end of 2019.
But other companies have made a further move. South Korean SK Holdings has joined forces with automaker Geely, owner of Volvo and Lotus, among other brands, by launching an investment fund with the aim of raising 300 million dollars to allocate in mobility technology companies. Some of the target Groups can develop synergies with the EV battery subsidiary SK Innovation and with the network of the group founded by Shu Fu Li.
Among the startups that have already managed to land in Europe there is Aiways, which launched the European version of its U5 fully electric SUV last year and is already present in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and other European countries. Aiways's Founder Fu Qiang explained in a recent interview that it was "the shortage of electric vehicle models and the polarization of price ranges among European companies that created the conditions for the entry of Chinese EV brands".
In last February, Xpeng Motor, another EV startup, announced it had shipped the second batch of G3 SUVs to Norway, while SAIC Motor (already a shareholder in MG) has entered nine countries including the UK, Ireland, Norway, Spain, the Netherlands, and Belgium since October 2020. According to market rumors, the Shanghai-based NIO, which is competing closely with Tesla in China, could debut in Europe in the second half of this year.
These moves show the transformation of the market and the challenge posed to the historic players, also through new tools. "These automakers have a clear need to embrace the digital world now that the pandemic has pushed the digitalization of car choice and purchase process; in this sense, I expect an increase in investments and a shift in the market to the new channels," Marco Marlia, CEO and Co-Founder of MotorK, remarked. Integration between large e-commerce platforms and car or component manufacturers is already an advanced process in China, where news of ongoing negotiations and new alliances comes almost every day.
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