The other world: will Chinese EVs take over Europe?

written by Niccolò Ferrari

BYD, NIO, GEELY. Three companies which many people probably never heard of. Or, at least, a big part of the mass market in search for a new, shiny electric car.

In Europe, the carmaker who sold more EVs is, without any form of doubt, Tesla. With an impressive 120.000 units of Model 3s alone, it puts VW and the rest of the competition to shame. Moreover, with the new Gigafactory in Germany, the numbers will pump even further.

Some may not know, but BYD has been producing EVs for many years, but focusing solely on the Asian market. Until recently, when they company decided to enter the European market with the BYD Tang, only sold in Norway for obvious reasons. This is no low Tier EV either. With more than 500 Km of mileage, 7 seats and a price point half of a Tesla Model X, the offer is pretty interesting.

In parallel to BYD, also NIO breached the European market through Norway, with the NIO ES8, a 7 seats SUV similar to the previously mentioned competitors. In 2022, the company will start to sell the NIO ES8 and NIO ET7, a top tier sedan, in Germany and other countries.

These are just two real examples of Chinese vehicles sold in Europe, coming from the eastern continent. With a strong price and promising specs, these cars have all the cards to take a chunk of the European sales. However, can they really beat Tesla, Porsche and many others at their own game?

Well, there might be a couple of setbacks along the way. First, European buyers have strong affiliation with brand recognition: buying a Model S, or a Taycan, although not for everyone, resonates in society much more than buying an unknown vehicle coming from Asia. Second, comes the issue of brand trust: are these vehicles reliable? What is the build quality? Can the customers be confident of their car in the long run, for the future years of use? What will the resale value in a couple of years?

Another fact to notice is that all the vehicles we’ve discussed above, are mid-high tier. A segment with low sale volumes, high margins, in which the level expected from customers, has become incredibly high in every aspect: from the sales experience, to driving and recognition. However, considering the opposite side of the spectrum, could the Chinese makers take a bottom-up approach and actually take a portion of the lower level, pushing the entry price lower to the one offered by VW and Renault?

Time will certainly tell, what is sure is that when some members of the ScoutIt team went to Norway last autumn, they struck in awe by these unknown, foreign cars driving around town. Competition is always good and we cannot wait to see more of these new players in Europe too.

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