Matthias Schmidt

May 263 min

China's advance into the West European new passenger car market appears to have hit the buffers

Chinese manufacturers' advance into the West European new passenger car market has seen their combined penetration gains in the 18 market region, screech to a halt. According to the latest Schmidt Automotive Research industry data, Chinese-brand models accounted for just 2.9 per cent of the total region's new car market during the opening third of 2024,  which includes the original European Union member states before the 2004 EU expansion, plus EFTA markets and the UK.

Just 116,100 new Chinese-brand passenger cars entered Western Europe's 4.01 million new car market during the opening four months of 2024. 

In this set of analyses, Chinese models don't include Western-brand models manufactured in China and exported to Europe, such as Tesla, Dacia, or BMW models. 

During April 28,400 genuine Chinese-brand models entered the region, accounting for 3 per cent of the region's new car market.

The vast majority of Chinese-branded models continue to come from SAIC's MG brand so far this year, accounting for 61 per cent of all new models from the PRC and seeing volumes increase by 23 per cent over the same period last year in a market that grew by just 6 per cent year-on-year so far this year. 

However, in April, its volumes barely grew, seeing gains of just 0.5 per cent y/y with the French government's first full month of purchase subsidies falling away for Chinese-made electric cars impacting its volumes there. 

Previous months allowed models ordered prior to the change at the end of last year, which takes into account a cradle-to-showroom approach when it comes to the carbon intensity production and transportation of electric models shipped from Asia, to still benefit if models were delivered by mid-March 2024.

Meanwhile, BYD's disappointing start continued with just 9,970 new registrations during the opening 4-months of the year. 

As previously reported, the BYD Explorer No.1 ship, which delivered 6,000 vehicles to Europe earlier this year, is now en route from China to Suape, Brazil, for its second voyage rather than returning directly to Europe. 

This is likely due to changing import tariffs in Brazil for BEVs, which were increased at the start of the year to 10% from the previous zero.

This will increase to 18 per cent from July and will reach 35% one year later.

The likes of NIO recorded just over 500 new models between January and April while same sector XPeng managed almost three times that amount with 1,480 models, with almost all deliveries coming from it G9 fully-electric SUV model.

Meanwhile, Geely's Polestar brand saw volumes fall by 34% y/y, although the addition of two new models – Polestar 3 and Polestar 4 – seeing their first registrations recorded in April, suggests things are likely to improve as the year progresses. 

Another Geely brand, Lynk&Co, saw volumes collapse by almost 80 per cent over the same period last year, recording just 2,450 new models this year across the seven regional European markets in which they are present.

The European Union will present the results of their anti-subsidy investigation into the imports of battery electric vehicles (BEV) from China, within the next weeks, which is unlikely to make things easier.  ◼︎︎

More exclusive data like this and insights are published for subscribers (€) in the The European Electric Car Study published by Schmidt Automotive Research each month, which is available to purchase as a single edition or an annual subscription.

The study now also features a double page in-depth look at the Chinese OEMs as their European expansion slowly begins.


*Western Europe 18 Markets: EU Member States prior to the 2004 enlargement plus EFTA markets Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, plus UK