Geely can celebrate. For the first time, the Chinese group, which includes the Volvo, Lotus, Polestar and Zeekr brands, is among the top ten largest car manufacturers in the world. The Toyota Group took first place in the ranking for the first quarter of 2024 with 2.52 million vehicles, followed by the Volkswagen Group in second place with 2.1 million and the Hyundai Motor Group in third place with 1.76 million.

Geely landed in 10th place, selling 730,000 vehicles in the first quarter of 2024. This is the first time a Chinese manufacturer has made it into the top ten largest manufacturers, reports Nikkei Asia. Geely also overtook the Mercedes-Benz Group and the BMW Group.

With this new ranking, Geely has moved up two places - in the same quarter last year, Geely was still in 12th place. This was made possible by a 27 per cent increase in sales volume. Geely sales were boosted by exports: foreign sales rose by 43 per cent.

The fact that Geely made it into the top ten is all the more remarkable as the Chinese New Year falls in the first quarter. This year, the holidays lasted from 10 to 17 February, i.e. one week. Even though employees had to work on two other days, this meant that Chinese dealers missed a few days of sales.

Other Chinese car manufacturers, such as BYD, Changan Automobile, Chery Automobile and SAIC Motor, still ranked in the top 20. Mind you, we are talking about cars of all drive types here. If you only look at pure electric cars (BEVs), BYD is way ahead: last year, with 1.6 million BEVs, it came in second behind Tesla (1.8 million). 

BYD also lagged behind Tesla in the first quarter of 2024: the Chinese group sold 300,000 pure electric cars, while Elon Musk's company sold 387,000. BYD sold a total of 620,000 vehicles, an increase of 13 per cent. Like Geely, BYD also increased exports: sales in Europe and South East Asia rose by 150 per cent. However, the figures are probably still small. In Germany at least, the brand did not even sell 400 cars in the three months. 

There is an oversupply of electric cars on the Chinese market. Next year, China will be able to build around 36 million vehicles, but it is estimated that only 17 million of these will be sold in China. Chinese manufacturers are therefore increasingly turning to exports: in 2023, around 1.2 million cars with alternative drive systems were exported; by next year, this figure could be  3.5 million.

In order to protect its market, the USA has announced plans to increase tariffs on electric cars from China from 25 to 100 per cent. The EU is also considering a tariff increase.

The bottom line

China is the largest car market in the world - according to Statista, around 4.8 million cars were sold there last year, 3.8 million in the USA and 3.4 million in Europe. However, Chinese customers are apparently still predominantly buying foreign brands. This is likely to change in the next few years. This is because the self-confidence of Chinese manufacturers is growing, and rightly so, as they can easily keep up, at least when it comes to electric cars. In the case of Geely, there is also the fact that the group owns a number of Western brands. This means that the group has little to fear from the threat of tariffs.

Our cover picture shows the Geely Panda Mini.