On the one hand we have the European elections and the possibility of reversing the ban on petrol and diesel from 2035, and on the other, there is the anti-dumping investigation against incentives for the electric vehicle industry in China. The coming weeks promise to be a watershed for the transition of the car in the Old Continent.

Two certainties (or almost) emerged more clearly in recent days, when Chinese President Xi Jinping flew to Paris to meet his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the respective countries. But that's not all.

Defence against the Chinese wave

The trip was also an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting with President Ursula von der Leyen and to take stock of relations between China and Europe, with the Commission's number one keeping a straight face. "We also discussed the imbalances (between the two regions, ed.), which remain significant; a cause for great concern".


MG4 in charge

"We will defend our companies and economies. We will never hesitate to do so if necessary," were her words, which sounded like a threat and were then peppered with other details, "Subsidised products from China, such as electric vehicles or steel, are flooding the European market."

"At the same time, China continues to massively support its manufacturing sector. Combined with a domestic demand that does not increase, the world cannot absorb China's excess production. Therefore, I have encouraged the Chinese government to address these structural overcapacities. At the same time, we will coordinate closely with G7 countries and emerging economies that are increasingly affected by China's market distortions'.

Duties in July?

And this is where the Brussels investigation into Beijing's subsidies to local manufacturers comes into play again. It was Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis who expanded on the subject in an interview with Politico: for punitive tariffs "we can expect the next steps before the summer break".

At that point - there is talk of May for the preliminary moves and November for the definitive ones - any additional customs duties would be triggered, under consideration by the Commission to compensate for the differences in import-export between Europe and China, with the Old Continent's manufacturers paying taxes of 25% and Asian ones enjoying a tax of just 10%.

BYD Seagull

BYD Seagull

Everyone wants them

A move that would force Chinese manufacturers to open new plants in Europe. A bit like what has been done by BYD, which - under the Brussels lens along with Geely and SAIC - has already announced an electric car plant in Hungary, ready for production in 2026. And meanwhile, EU member states are competing to attract investment from China.

"France welcomes all industrial projects. BYD and the Chinese automotive industry are welcome in France,' said transalpine minister Bruno Le Maire during Xi's trip to the Elysée Palace.

The Shenzen-based manufacturer itself had been courted by the Italian government in recent months, but then closed its doors to the Peninsula; a 'no, thank you' also reiterated to Motor1: "There is no dialogue underway," the words of executive vice-president Stella Li. A second European factory could therefore be set up in Italy or "Spain, France or Germany. We will see".