Chinese automakers target German market

The Wey iNest version 2.0 concept car from Great Wall Motors is presented at the Munich auto show in Germany, in September 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

Chinese automakers are expected to make inroads into Germany, where the car was invented, later this year, leveraging their competitive advantage in new energy vehicle designs.

Great Wall Motors announced last week that it would begin delivering vehicles to the European country in the fourth quarter of this year.

One is a plug-in hybrid under its premium Wey brand and the other is an electric sedan under the Ora brand, the automaker said.

“It means we will redefine the premium and NEV market in Europe,” Great Wall Motors said.

The company entered into a strategic partnership last week with Emil Frey, Europe’s largest car dealership group, to help distribute vehicles, starting in Germany.

Meng Xiangjun, head of European operations at Great Wall Motors, called the deal with Emil Frey a “milestone” for entering the European market.

“It will help us better explore the market and let customers experience our products and services as soon as possible,” Meng said.

Wolfgang Kopplin, member of the Emil Frey Group management team, told reporters he was impressed with GWM’s technical maturity and product quality when the two companies first discussed the possibility of cooperation at the beginning of 2020.

“At the 2021 Munich Auto Show, GWM’s vehicles were seen as very innovative and attractive,” Kopplin said.

GWM first unveiled its plans to explore the European market at the Munich show last year. Later that year, it opened its European headquarters in Munich.

Nio, the New York-listed Chinese electric vehicle startup, is also expanding its presence in Germany later this year. It entered the European market in 2021, with Norway as its first stop.

The startup is building an electrical products factory in Hungary, which should be operational in September, to facilitate its expansion in Europe.

Cui Dongshu, general secretary of the China Passenger Car Association, said Chinese-made NEVs are gaining acceptance in overseas markets and their manufacturers’ expanding after-sales service networks are expected to bolster the vehicle reputation.

The factory, covering an area of ​​approximately 10,000 square meters, will serve as a production, service and R&D center for Nio’s electrical products, including battery exchange stations in Europe.

Battery swap stations allow electric vehicles to replace their empty batteries with full ones in minutes, much faster than recharging them. Nio has built over 1,000 such stations in China.

“Operation of the plant will give further impetus to the construction of battery swap stations in these countries, providing a solid foundation for local battery swapping and recharging services,” the company said.

Data from Berlin-based Schmidt Automotive Research shows that 16% of the 1.2 million electric vehicles sold in Western Europe in 2021 were imported from China.

He expects the number of Chinese brands selling electric vehicles in Europe to reach double digits this year alone.

Last month, in his last interview at the head of Volkswagen Group China, Stephan Woellenstein said that China will lead the automotive industry in the next 10 to 20 years globally, as the sector develops electrically. and smart.

Europe set the benchmark in the age of gasoline-powered vehicles, but unfortunately it can no longer do so in the age of electric vehicles, Woellenstein said.

James R. Rhodes