The Chinese automotive market is huge, and it’s heading to Europe. For many, the manufacturers so dominant in the Chinese market are far from household names over here, but that’s likely to change over the next few years. Take a look at our market intelligence guide to make sure you’re ahead of the curve.
IAA Munich is the first major car show to take place in Europe since the coronavirus pandemic hit hard. In fact, one of the first major events to be cancelled because of Covid-19 on the continent was the Geneva Motor Show 2020.
Clearly a lot has changed in the last year and a half, and that’s affected everything and everybody – automotive included. As such, there will be some ‘new’ names appearing at what is an important event, and most of them are from China.
As the world looks increasingly to electric models, China – the world’s largest EV market – is set to come in and shake things up. Already SAIC has made its mark with MG Motor, offering budget-conscious electric vehicles across its line-up.
Geely has managed its ownership of Volvo and Polestar adeptly, with the former providing electric vehicles across its entire range, while Polestar has already been repositioned as an electric-only brand.
It’s just the start, however, with 10 Chinese brands present in Europe’s passenger car market, and more on their way with some big range claims (although these are often NEDC rather than WLTP so beware of that). We highlight the key manufacturers, with a guiding hand from European automotive expert Matthias Schmidt.
Owned by Great Wall Motors, Wey is the company’s luxury brand, and will pitch its models against the likes of BMW, Audi, Mercedes Benz et al. Many have tried and few have succeeded, but one big plus for Wey is they will have price on their side.
It’s tricky bridging the mass-market premium divide – only really Volkswagen manage to sit in that middle-ground successfully – but Wey will try to replicate the feat, kicking off with the Coffee 01 SUV.
A large SUV with European styling, it will arrive as a plug-in hybrid. Pretty standard so far, but the Chinese prioritise EV powertrains, so this PHEV has an electric-only range of 90-odd miles on a charge, as well as support from a petrol engine. First deliveries will arrive in Europe next year.
Sister company to Great Wall Motor’s Wey, Ora is pure-electric only, and kicking things off in Europe with a distinctly European model. The Ora Cat is an all-electric compact hatchback, capable of covering almost 250 miles on a charge depending on battery option.
Powered by a 126 kW electric motor, the Cat will also feature over-the-air updates, and a suite of driver assistance systems more commonly found in far larger cars.
Pre-orders for Ora’s launch model open from the end of 2021, with first deliveries scheduled to arrive before the midway point of next year.
One of the youngest manufacturers to have made it past the start-up phase, Xpeng was only founded in 2014. Such is the growth of the Chinese car market, however, the brand is already established in its homeland, and is targeting new shores.
The G3 SUV has already been available to buy in EV-hotbed Norway since the end of last year, but widening the market Europewide should see the brand become more widely known. One promising newcomer would be the P5 saloon, which offers a range of around 370 miles on a charge.
Nio is one of the more well-known Chinese brands in Europe thanks to starting an EV offensive a few years ago. The manufacturer runs a Formula E team, and has also set lap-records around the Nurburgring in the past with its EP9 hypercar.
The glamorous marketing efforts are a traditional way to introduce a new manufacturer to the world, and it looks like Nio could well be a name that’s set to stay, offering premium-end machines, with Tesla-rivalling driving ranges, Nio has considerable EV expertise. In China for example it runs battery-swap stations along key corridors to make long-range EV travel a doddle.
With the ET7 saloon however, it shouldn’t need to establish these battery stations, since the driving range is advertised at more than 620 miles on a charge. It’s definitely coming to Europe, launching in Norway, and expanding from there, probably in 2022.
An automotive giant in China – think Europe’s VW Group but in the Far East – SAIC already has a presence over here with MG in the car sector, and Maxus in the commercial market. MG Motors has seen regular and rapid growth over the past few years, and has built a reputation for simple, but well-thought-out and value for money vehicles, particularly with a strong EV line-up.
Maxus has already been picked up by leasing brokers such as Rivervale, with a range of LCVs that follow MG’s value for money principles and focus on electrification.
Coming soon will be the all-electric MG Roadster sportswear, plus the Marvel R SUV EV, with a range of around 250 miles on a charge, vehicle-to-grid charging technology, towing capabilities, and a huge touchscreen centre console for the flagship model.
There are of course other honourable mentions, such as DFSK’s vans confirmed to arrive in the UK by early 2022. Always’ U5 SUV is available to have reservation deposits placed against it, and will arrive next year, with sights set on the family SUV market, offering a range of about 250 miles on a charge. What’s certain is that Chinese brands are coming in big numbers, joining the handful that are already here.
Now’s the time to start thinking about your broker position on leasing these Chinese EVs.