China is now the world's leading manufacturer of cars, and now it has set its sights on overtaking Japan to become the world's leading exporter of four-wheeled vehicles. China also has its eye on Europe in particular ...

Even Brussels is aware of this and has already set its sights on cars "Made in China" and announced an investigation into the incentives granted by Beijing for electric cars over the last ten years. But how much weight does the land of the dragon really have in old Europe? Currently around 5% of the market. And the trend is rising. Whew.

Growth by more than five times in 3 years

While we still have to wait for the complete data for 2023, a first answer can be read in the report "The Chinese car in Italy: knowing to decide", published by the Luiss Business School and presented by the scientific director Fabio Orecchini. The analysis shows the numbers of vehicles "Made in China" in 2022 and in the first nine months of last year.

MG ZS (2024)

MG ZS

BYD ATTO 3

BYD Atto 3

Foto - DR 5.0

DR 5.0

For the period January-September 2023, it speaks of around 462,600 registrations (equivalent to 4.8% of the market). In 2022 as a whole, the figures were 455,400 (4% market share). So it only took three quarters to exceed the previous year's cumulative total. And who knows what surprises the full figures will offer once they are published.

On an economic level, the value of imports and exports between China and Europe will reach €9.37 billion in 2022 (+432% compared to 2020) and almost €16 billion in 2023, which would see China overtake Japan, South Korea, the UK and the US in trade with Europe.

If we look at the data on motorisation, we see that 70.8% of Chinese cars registered in Europe between January and September 2023 have an electric drive. We are talking about 327,000 cars, which represents 22.9% of all all-electric vehicles purchased, compared to 324,000 for the whole of 2022.

Chinese cars in Europe 2022 2023 (January-September)
Registrations 455,400 462,600
Market share 4% 4.8%
Import-export value 9.37 billion € 15.95 billion €
Fully electric 324,000 327,000
(70.8% of exports
and 22.9% of BEVs sold)
New brands 11,200 sales
(2.5% of the market)
19,800 sales
(4.3% of the market)
"Made in China"
from non-Chinese brands
54.4% of exports 46.4% of exports

The keys to success

But how is China expanding in our part of the world? There are several keys to China's (emerging) success in Europe. First of all, the market entry of young brands specialising in electric vehicles: 19 brands have been on the market since 2021, and there will be 23 by 2024. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, as the registrations of these players still account for 2.5% of the market in 2022 and 4.3% in the first 9 months of 2023 (corresponding to 11,200 and 19,800 sales).

Even more drastic, however, is Beijing's policy of welcoming foreign brands and turning the country into a global export centre. To find a home in the shadow of the Great Wall, foreign manufacturers have had to ally with domestic ones; the results today show that the majority of "Made in China" cars registered in Europe (54.4% in 2022 and 46.4% in the first three quarters of 2023) have a non-Chinese brand, with Tesla leading exports.