Chinese automakers act against EU tariffs on EVs and explore the African market

Chinese automakers act against EU tariffs on EVs and explore the African market

Chinese automobile companies and industry associations are taking actions against the EU's provisional tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), which took effect on July 5 and could remain in place for five years after a consultation period ends on November 5.

SAIC Motor Corp demanded that the European Commission (EC) hold a hearing on the tariffs, as the company seeks to further safeguard its legitimate rights and interests as well as those of its global clients. China's Foreign Ministry stressed at a regular press conference that China always believes the two sides should solve trade issues through talks and will take “necessary measures” to firmly safeguard its own legitimate rights and interests. SAIC Motor said that the European Commission reduced the additional tariffs faced by the company to 37.6% from 38.1% announced on June 12 after the company submitted its defense. SAIC Motor said the EC's anti-subsidy probe involves commercially sensitive information that exceeds the scope of normal investigation, and that the EC made mistakes in the determination of subsidies and neglected to consider the arguments presented by the company.

The China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME) said that the EC's determination of subsidies to Chinese EV firms is unreasonable and seriously violates WTO and EU related anti-subsidy rules. It urged the EC to correct its mistake as soon as possible. Representing the Chinese EV industry, CCCME further stated that it will continue to deal with the EC's anti-subsidy investigation, and will firmly protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises through various means.

The EC confirmed the imposition of provisional import tariffs on Chinese EV manufacturers starting from July 5, despite strong opposition from government officials and major industry players within the bloc. “In the upcoming four months, there is still a lot of room for consultations and negotiations between China and the EU so that a solution acceptable to both sides can be found,” Liang Ming, Director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation's Institute of International Trade of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), told the Global Times.

The EU has announced multiple restrictive trade measures against China since the beginning of the year, but China has continued to expand imports from the EU, demonstrating its positive attitude in dealing with the EU, Liang said. He Weiwen, Senior Fellow from the Center for China and Globalization, told the Global Times that the EU's protectionist move will not only make European consumers pay higher prices for EVs but also harm some European companies' interests, since a large proportion of the Chinese EVs exported to the EU are made by European companies in China. If China and the EU can solve the trade dispute through talks, it will be beneficial for both sides, He said, urging the EU to show more sincerity in consultations with China, the Global Times reports.

Meanwhile, U.S. and EU tariffs are pushing Chinese companies to search for alternative markets, including in Africa. Neta Auto for example has opened its first African store in Kenya and also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Kenya-based Associated Vehicle Assemblers (AVA) to assemble 250 EVs every month. Kenya will then become the hub for exports of the Neta EVs to the rest of Africa. Over the next two years the EV maker plans to enter 20 countries and open 100 stores. Within three years, Neta hopes to achieve an annual sales volume of more than 20,000 units in Africa.

From January to June this year, BYD sold 1.61 million NEVs, recording a year-on-year increase of 28.46%. The company sold 341,658 NEVs in June alone, up from 253,046 compared with the same period in 2023. Chery's NEV sales in the first six months totaled 180,947, recording an annual growth of 181.5%, while the company's total sales of vehicles surpassed 1 million for the first time to reach 1.1 million. Li Auto delivered a total of 822,345 NEVs, ranking first among emerging domestic players. Meanwhile, NIO delivered 87,426 vehicles in the January-June period. Chinese carmaker Seres recorded a yearly increase of 348.55% in NEV sales to 200,949 in the first six months of the year, while its June's car sales jumped 372.04% year-on-year to 44,126. Automaker XPeng delivered 52,028 new vehicles in the first half of the year, an increase of 25.57%, and deliveries from Leapmotor in June exceeded 20,000 for the first time. U.S. carmaker Tesla in June exported 71,007 vehicles made in China, according to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).

Germany's Volkswagen Group and China's SAIC Motor will further expand their presence in the EV market, with the two carmakers signing several energy technology cooperation agreements in June. Both sides will jointly develop three plug-in hybrid models and two pure electric models in China and launch them as soon as 2026. French carmaker Renault Group said its electric vehicle (EV) subsidiary Ampere will work with Chinese battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co (CATL) and South Korea's LG Energy Solution to adopt cheaper and more advanced manufacturing technologies for EV components, in order to stay competitive in the EV market. Chinese experts said Renault's move is part of the trend of foreign carmakers looking to deepen connections with China's advanced EV technology suppliers, despite intensified protectionist moves taken by the EU targeting China's EV industry. With these technologies, Ampere will reduce the cost of batteries used in its vehicles by around 20% from the beginning of 2026, according to the French company.