Matthias Schmidt

Apr 263 min

Chinese brands accounted for less than 3 per cent of the West European new car market during Q1 2024

Updated: Apr 28

Exclusive: During the opening quarter of 2024, Chinese manufacturers accounted for just a mere fraction of the West European new passenger car market's 3.05 million new volumes between January and March 2024

Just 2.9 per cent of all new cars registered so far this year across the 18 monitored Western European new car market, which includes the EU member states prior to the 2004 expansion plus the EFTA market Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland, and including the UK, saw just 87,665 new models enter the region.

However, this was a 25.7% increase over the 69,750 recorded during the same period last year, although Chinese manufacturers now include Smart from 2024 due to the majority of the Mercedes/Geely JV now belonging to #1 and #3 crossover models manufactured by Geely in China and based on the Chinese parent company's SEA2 all-electric architecture.

If Smart is included for the 2023 Q1 period, the increase was just 16.6% in a total market that rose by 4.7% during the same period.

West European new Chinese brand passenger car volumes by quarter

Source: Schmidt Automotive Research

The rate of market penetration growth across the region has moved into reverse, with a 3.3 per cent market mix in the closing quarter of 2023, 3.2 per cent during Q3 2023, and 3.0 per cent during Q2 2023. The opening quarter of 2023 saw a mix of 2.4 per cent, however, resulting in a half-percentage-point year-on-year increase this year. 

The quarterly volume trend that saw over 90,000 units recorded during the previous three quarters just failed to achieve this during this year's opening quarter. However, some seasonality may be at play with the Chinese New Year, which fell in February this year could have impacted shipments to Europe during the start of the year. Current voyage times to Europe are just under 40 days, considering the re-directed route around South Africa. 

The largest manufacturer remained SAIC's MG brand, accounting for 55,300 new registrations so far this year (+31.8% y/y), translating into a 63.1% share of all new Chinese brand models entering the 18 market region in the opening quarter of 2024.

BYD witnessed the first voyage to Europe of its new 7,000 car capacity, pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) vessel, BYD Explorer One, loaded with 6,000 vehicles.

A total of just 7,410 models newly registered BYD models entered the region during the first quarter of the year, accounting for just 0.2 per cent of total West European new passenger car registrations so far this year, or 8.5 per cent of all new Chinese brand volumes. 

Geely brands Polestar and Lynk&Co saw large volume losses over the same period last year, with 4,700 (-35.5% y/y) and 1,710 (-79.3%y/y) new volumes, respectively.

However, that lower volume from both brands is likely being filled on limited volume PCTC carriers that continue to see daily charter prices hover at record $120,000 rates per day, by the Chinese-made Volvo EX30 model, which is beginning its global roll-out currently.

However, we still classify Volvo Cars as a European brand despite its majority Geely shareholding, and therefore Volvo Cars data is separate from the China data mentioned above.

Premium Chinese manufacturers continue to struggle

Premium Chinese manufacturers continue to struggle in Europe, with a lack of brand equity creating a large hurdle no manufacturer has managed to clear up to now. 

During the first quarter of 2024, according to our own data, NIO managed just 370 new car registrations across seven markets, while Ferrari saw their volumes during the same period surpass that more than 3:1 to give some indication of the struggles NIO is having.

XPENG performed slightly better, driven mainly by their G9 full-size SUV, seeing 1,036 new volumes arrive in the opening three months of the year.

Meanwhile, from a more budget perspective, DR Motors, which essentially rebadges Chinese models, mainly from Chery, across three different brands – DR Motors, EVO and Sportequipe, saw volumes achieve 6,232 units across two markets, Italy and Spain. 

Auto logistics representatives have told us the trio of brands are the reason the West Italian port of Livorno is currently blocked with the company having issues with spare parts according to the same person we spoke to.

We have been covering the European logistic issues in our European Electric Car Study since the end of last year.

Further granular data on the Chinese plug-in models is featured across a special two-page feature in our European Electric Car Study published each month.

The Q1 study will be published at the end of next week for subscribers to that service, a key industry-leading resource for all those associated with the European electric car industry. ◼︎︎

The European Electric Car Study published by Schmidt Automotive Research each month and 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