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Chinese automakers are not well known in the U.S. The big manufacturers from the Asian superpower don’t generally ship vehicles to North America, and we don’t know about them unless they own familiar brands like Volvo.
But there’s a big world outside our borders, and Chinese companies are making major headway in markets besides our own, especially in Europe.
Right now, the industry is narrowly focused on expanding the EV markets, and Chinese companies are no exception. A number of them are introducing themselves to countries like Germany and Norway by way of the electric powertrain.
Major EV players from China
It goes without saying that China has a big auto market. With the largest population in the world, the country’s automakers have survived by solely serving their domestic market for decades with their own brands and their joint ventures with foreign companies like Ford, Honda, and VW.
But the New York Times says that homeward focus is changing. From state-owned manufacturers like SAIC to privately owned enterprises like Geely and Nio, Chinese companies are using the transition off gas-burning engines to introduce themselves to European roads.
SAIC, for example, bought the classic British nameplate MG in 2007 and is reacquainting European countries to the brand with a line of electric SUVs. Nio, on the other hand, is taking a different approach. It launched its own brand of EVs to Norwegians in September.
China’s EV competition in Europe
These brands might see the EV revolution as an opportunity to familiarize Europeans with new names, but they’re entering a highly competitive atmosphere.
From domestic companies like Volkswagen to American brands like Tesla, automakers are battling each other for the growing number of Europeans eager to switch to electric vehicles.
InsideEVs says that like in the U.S., Tesla is the most popular electric car brand in the continent, having already sold over 75,000 units of its Model 3 in 2021. But Volkswagen is not far behind after combining its two most popular EV models, the ID.3 and ID.4.
Companies from near and far already hold smaller pieces of the market. French brand Renault’s ZOE is the third most popular EV in Europe while Ford builds two of the top 10 models. The only Chinese-owned brand in the mix is Volvo, which originated in Sweden.
Joining the growing, global EV market
Despite a lot of auto industry hiccups this year, electric cars are more popular than ever before in Europe and here in the U.S., too. InsideEvs says the European market has already grown 60% this year. In the U.S. it grew by 118%, although it remains much smaller than Europe or China’s.
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