Chinese NEV makers shine in Munich, as China surpasses Japan to become the largest auto exporter
Germany’s IAA Mobility show welcomes Chinese NEV fleet
Published: Sep 06, 2023 07:24 PM
Visitors inspect vehicles at the booth of Chinese manufacturer BYD at the Open Space of the IAA 2023 auto show in Munich, Germany on September 5, 2023. Photo: VCG

Visitors inspect vehicles at the booth of Chinese manufacturer BYD at the Open Space of the IAA 2023 auto show in Munich, Germany on September 5, 2023. Photo: VCG

The International Motor Show Germany (IAA Mobility), one of the world's most important auto shows, kicked off on Tuesday in Munich city, with an array of Chinese automakers and auto parts producers showcasing their latest and most advanced products at the event.

About 70 Chinese firms are attending the six-day exhibition, the second largest number after German participants, including China's top electric vehicle maker BYD and emerging new- energy vehicle (NEV) players including Leap Motor, XPENG Motors, and AVATR Technology which has a global design center located in Munich.

According to IAA Mobility, the number of Chinese car-makers participating in this year's exhibition is nearly twice that of 2021. Industry insiders said that a number of Chinese car-makers like BYD are actively expanding in the European market, which also plans to build factories in Europe and other markets.

On Monday, BYD brought its products including the Seal, Song PLUS EV Champion Edition and BYD ATTO 3 to the German auto show. The company announced that the Seal is being officially launched in Europe and is available in two versions priced at 50,990 euros ($54,685) and 44,900 euros. The Song PLUS EV Champion Edition will soon be available in Europe.

According to a statement that the company sent to the Global Times on Tuesday, Shu Youxing, general manager of BYD's European Automobile Sales Division, said that the company's electric cars have entered 15 European countries in the past 12 months, setting up more than 140 stores in countries including the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

Rapid electrification 

"With the acceleration of global electrification, Europe has become an important market for NEVs. BYD continues to plow into the European market, enriching its matrix of new-energy models to meet the diverse needs of consumers," Shu said.

Leap Motor, an emerging electric car manufacturer, officially unveiled its first global model, the Leap C10, at the event, according to a statement the firm sent to the Global Times on Tuesday. Relying on a brand strategy of "total self-development," the company aims to improve the competitiveness of its models in Chinese home market, while also actively expanding overseas.

Zhu Jiangming, founder of Leap Motor, said that China's NEV companies, boosted by supportive government policies, already held an "innate advantage" in electrification, and there is every possibility of cooperation with global automakers. 

In addition to vehicles manufacturing, many other Chinese companies in the associated automobile industrial chain also embarked on the journey to Munich, collectively exploring overseas markets leveraging their collective advantages.

Formidable line-up

The formidable Chinese line-up includes 13 battery giants including CATL, EVE Power and Sunwoda, spanning various auto lines from complete vehicles to powertrain systems and smart automotive electronics and in-vehicle software development.

Chinese battery producers have built or plan to build plants in many European countries, including Germany, France, Hungary, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and Sweden. Hungary, in particular, has become one of the hottest places for Chinese companies to invest.

In 2022, CATL, which makes more than one-third of the world's EV batteries, invested 7.34 billion euros to build a battery plant in Hungary. In May 2023, EVE Power announced a plan to build a plant in Debrecen, a city in eastern Hungary.

EVE Power's plant will help all parties leverage their resources and advantages, and it's also an important step for the battery maker to expand its global footprint and enhance competitiveness, the company said in a statement.

China's customs data showed that the country's automobile exports reached 2.78 million units in the first seven months of the year, with a growth rate of 69 percent. Of the total, Chinese NEVs exports stood at 940,000 units during the period, surging 96 percent on a yearly basis.

Steadily rising exports

Since 2020, with the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the resilience of China's automotive industrial chain has been fully demonstrated, with the Chinese auto exports displaying robust growth in 2021 and 2022, Cui Dongshu, secretary general of China Passenger Car Association, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

From 2021 to early 2022, China made significant breakthroughs in auto exports to European markets. NEVs become a central driver of that growth, Cui said.

Chinese NEVs are primarily exported to Western Europe and Southeast Asian markets. In the past two years, Western and Southern European countries such as Belgium, Spain, Slovenia and the UK have emerged as major export destinations, led by SAIC Motor and BYD vehicles. 

In the first half of the year, China surpassed Japan for the first time by exporting a total of 2.34 million vehicles, according to data tracked by China Automotive Industry Association. Many industry observers believed that China's leading position will likely continue to build, making it the largest automobile exporter in the world.

"The country's auto exports are expected to exceed 5 million in 2023, setting a new milestone," Cui noted.

For a long time, auto-making have been regarded as a major symbol of industrial power, and the US, Japan and Germany are auto sector powerhouses. Now China has become the world's largest auto exporter, with huge future potential to grow, Cui said.