The latest EV registration data from Europe reveals that the China-made models are already approaching one-fifth of the entire EV segment.

From the local automotive industry perspective, this worrying sign is amplified by a general sales weakening. We seem to have a clear answer behind the incoming tariffs for China-made electric cars.

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Europe defends its industry

European EV sales weakened recently, and there is no easy way to change that without developing more affordable models. The ones from China are selling relatively well, but this is not a healthy solution long-term and will be limited.

According to Jato Dynamics, new car registrations in 28 monitored European markets decreased in May by 2.5% year-over-year to 1,087,699. This is higher than two and three years ago, but the market never fully recovered from its original, pre-pandemic size, staying at a 75-80% level.

The plug-in electric car segment was also down at 226,665, about a 9.5% year-over-year decline. This concerns all-electric cars, down by 11%, and plug-in hybrids, down by 7%.

Plug-in car registrations in Europe in May 2024 in 28 select markets:

  • BEVs: 151,237 (down 11% year-over-year)
  • PHEVs: 75,428 (down 7% year-over-year)
  • Total: 226,665 (down 9.5% year-over-year) and 20.8% share

The prices of new electric cars are considered too high, while incentives were limited or removed in many markets. More affordable models from China would be an exciting option to keep the market growing, but the European Union probably does not want to electrify its market at the expense of its own automotive industry.

The report noted that in May, new registrations of China-made all-electric cars increased by 25% year-over-year to almost 28,000 units, taking about 18.5% share in the EV segment, up from 13.2% a year earlier.

A 25% increase compared to an 11% overall decline shows that China is expanding fast. Meanwhile, registrations of EVs manufactured outside of China decreased by 16% year over year.

The list of most registered models reveals two China-made EVs—the Tesla Model 3 and Volvo EX30—in the top five. The MG4 is also in the top 10.

Plug-in Car Registrations - May 2024

Another shocking fact is that the Tesla Model Y, locally produced in Europe, noted a huge 46% decrease year-over-year. According to a separate report from Dataforce, the whole brand is down by 37%. However, the refreshed Model 3 is up by 25%. It's expected that the Model 3 will grow in the near term before the higher tariffs are applied.

One of the biggest winners of the first part of the year is the Made-in-China Volvo EX30. It will be produced locally in Belgium starting in 2025 (also for the U.S. market, where it's delayed).

The Chinese expansion might slow down later this year. According to Jato Dynamics, MG has already switched its focus from EVs to internal-combustion cars in Europe, probably expecting challenges in selling the MG4 at a higher price.

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