Slowly but surely, Chinese automakers are setting foot in Europe with their electric vehicles, and their expansion goes beyond EV-friendly Norway.
While European brands that have been acquired by Chinese automakers are already present in many markets in the region (we're talking SAIC-owned MG or Geely-owned Volvo and Polestar), Chinese brands, including BYD, NIO and Xpeng, are expanding beyond Norway.
Great Wall Motor, one of China's largest automakers, is the latest to announce plans to enter new European markets thanks to a strategic partnership signed with the largest car dealer group in the region, Emil Frey.
For starters, the dealer group will distribute Great Wall's Ora and Wey brands in Germany, beginning with the Ora Funky Cat compact EV in the fourth quarter of this year. Meanwhile, the Wey brand will launch in Germany with the Coffee 01 plug-in hybrid SUV.
Great Wall Motor and Emil Frey are currently in "intensive talks" to extend the strategic cooperation for both brands to other important markets in Europe. The EV-only Ora marque has also been confirmed for the United Kingdom, where the Funky Cat will debut this fall.
Gallery: Ora Funky Cat First Edition in UK specification
"For Great Wall Motor this is a milestone on the way to Europe. This cooperation project with Emil Frey sets the course for our market entry and for the way to our customers."
Xiangjun Meng, Great Wall's head of the European market
The Chinese automaker chose Emil Frey after realizing that the partnership would offer considerable advantages over setting up its own sales and service network, sources told Automobilwoche. The partnership grants Great Wall Motor brands access to Frey's extensive sales, service and spare parts business in Europe. Emil Frey currently offers 28 brands in Europe, including almost every well-known marque. Interestingly, it also has an agreement with Xpeng to distribute its EVs in the Netherlands.
The dealer group is experienced in launching new brands, having been responsible for the sales launch of Toyota, Hyundai and Mitsubishi brands in several European countries. Emil Frey posted an estimated revenue of €13 billion ($14.7 billion) from 550,000 new and used vehicle sales last year, making it Europe's largest dealer group.
In 2021, 16 percent of the 1.2 million EVs sold in Western Europe were shipped from China, including Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, Dacia Spring and BMW iX3, according to analyst Matthias Schmidt. The number of Chinese brands selling in Europe is expected to reach double figures in 2022 as they bring over increasingly more electric vehicles to the region.