Chinese cars are in their "infancy" when they go to sea Experts: It is difficult to act collectively and go it alone
Tencent News "High Beam" author Autun
The scale of exports continues to expand, and it is becoming a bright stroke in the report card of the mainland automobile industry. According to the forecast of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Automotive Industry Branch, China's overseas sales have increased for three consecutive years, and are expected to exceed 4 million units this year, becoming the world's largest automobile exporter.
However, under the good situation, China's auto industry is facing a variety of tests. For example, Brazil will end the duty-free policy for imported electric vehicles and plan to gradually increase the tariff to 35% within three years; The European Union announced that it will soon launch a countervailing duty investigation on mainland electric vehicles, France intends to introduce a new policy for electric vehicle subsidies, and legislation to prevent Chinese electric vehicles from enjoying local new energy subsidies.
In response to the EU's plan to open a "countervailing" investigation, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers issued a document on September 26 saying that the rapid development of China's electric vehicle industry is the result of Chinese enterprises being market-oriented and constantly pioneering and innovating in the fierce market competition, rather than relying on the so-called subsidy support.
At the recently held 2023 China Automotive Going Global (Tianjin) Forum, Wang Xia, president of the Automotive Industry Branch of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said that China's car going overseas is in the interests of global consumers, and the European Union and the United States should not regard it as a flood beast, but should face up to the basic fact that Chinese automobiles have made great progress.
Wang Xia also stressed that the challenges and opportunities of China's automobiles going overseas coexist, and we should not be blindly optimistic, with the continuous growth of exports, China's automobiles going overseas will inevitably encounter more and more complex challenges.
In 2025, the share of Chinese-made new energy vehicles in the European market will be close to 15%;
According to the China Passenger Association, from January to July 2023, China's automobile exports reached 2.78 million units, a growth rate of 69%. Cui Dongshu, Secretary-General of the Passenger Association, said that the main driving force is still the improvement of the competitiveness of Chinese products, the breakthrough of the European and American markets, and the comprehensive replacement of international brands in the Russian market under the Russia-Ukraine crisis by Chinese cars, especially the huge increase brought about by the improvement of China's export competitiveness of new energy vehicles.
Specifically, looking at the new energy vehicle market, exports of new energy vehicles from January to July 2023 were 940,000 units, a year-on-year increase of 96%, and Chinese automobile exports to Europe accounted for 48% of China's total new energy vehicle exports.
The rise of China's new energy vehicle companies has brought a lot of pressure to European and American countries. Wang Xia believes that unlike foreign car companies that put backward products into China, Chinese cars go overseas to bring out the best products and the latest technology, and the reason why they are welcomed by more and more overseas consumers is because they feel the comparative advantages of Chinese cars in electrification and intelligence.
Wang Xia said that Chinese brands accounted for 8% of the EU electric vehicle market in 2022, and it is expected that this proportion may increase to 15% by 2025. In the first half of this year, the total sales of pure electric and plug-in hybrid models in Europe was 1.419 million units, of which China-made new energy vehicles accounted for nearly 1/4.
In recent years, China's new energy passenger vehicle export structure and quantity performance has improved, Cui Dongshu analyzed that before 2019, the number of new energy vehicle exports is large, but passenger cars are basically miniature low-speed electric vehicles, and the actual number of mainstream new energy models is not large.
Data show that in the first half of 2022, the average selling price of electric vehicles in China was less than 32,000 euros, while the average selling price of electric vehicles in Europe was about 56,000 euros, and Chinese products have obvious cost-effective advantages.
However, with the upgrading of export product structure and industrial form, the average price of China's automobile exports has steadily increased in recent years. Gong Yueqiong, deputy general manager of BAIC Group and chairman of Beijing Hyundai, predicts that the average price of new energy passenger vehicles will exceed 140,000 yuan this year, and commercial vehicles are expected to increase to 250,000 yuan.
Wang Xia stressed that Chinese car companies should deeply reflect on the detours they took many years ago, attach great importance to product quality and service, maintain brand image, truly enter the hearts of local consumers, and actively integrate into the local socio-economic form and industrial ecology, that is, the so-called "go in, go up".
How to do a good job in the prevention and control of risks when going overseas?
With the continuous growth of export volume, China's overseas automobile will inevitably encounter multiple challenges such as competitors, intellectual property rights, tariffs, market access, and legal disputes.
Gong Yueqiong believes that at present, the mainland's automobile export destinations are still mainly the middle and low-end markets, and the markets such as Europe, the United States, Japan and South Korea account for only 35%; Secondly, the system capabilities and brand design capabilities of Chinese automobile brands are still in the stage of development and improvement, and they are vulnerable to changes in the local business environment such as international political, economic and military conflicts. Third, affected by the fluctuation of the US dollar and the restrictions of the transportation system, export trade guarantees also need to be strengthened.
In this regard, Gong Yueqiong suggested that industrial coordination capabilities should be strengthened, and work should be carried out on overseas market regulations and demand research, overseas factory capacity utilization, and overseas intelligent network ecological construction. In addition, he believes that in the future, ASEAN, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe and other markets will be the main source of China's automobile export growth, and suggested that relevant government departments further clarify the export strategy and formulate a strategic plan for the internationalization of the automotive industry in the next 5-10 years.
In the complex and changeable environment, how should Chinese car companies do a good job in preventing and controlling the risks of automobiles going overseas?
According to Gao Yuan, director of overseas business of Lantu Automobile, the first condition for going overseas is to make the car compliant and user-liked. In the face of strict EU standards, Chinese car companies should make efforts in three aspects: first, invest heavily in research and development; Secondly, risk avoidance with full caliber; Third, in-depth communication with local certification bodies and users.
The compliance of automobiles going overseas is not only the compliance of the whole vehicle, but also the compliance of parts. Chen Ming, general manager of Axon Environmental Technology Co., Ltd., believes that the EU's new battery law will cause a variety of risks to the mainland battery industry. "Battery production and remanufacturing will rely heavily on used batteries already used in Europe, and Chinese companies will also need to purchase waste batteries from Europe to refine key raw materials such as lithium ore, and the EU battery industry will once again gain advantages and dominance."
Based on the international background of the EU countervailing duty investigation, Xue Xuxu, EDP Chair Professor of the School of Economics of Peking University and Secretary-General of the Marketing Expert Committee of the China Market Society, proposed that, first of all, car companies should seize the time to establish the nature of relevant subsidies and do a large number of in-depth joint research from the perspective of specificity; Secondly, from the perspective of the industry, whether Chinese automobiles will suffer substantial obstacles in the EU, communication and exchange have great significance and value, and the possibility of reaching consensus at the industrial and policy level still exists.
Cross-border logistics problems need to be solved
From the perspective of industrial coordination, export business is inseparable from the logistics guarantee system, especially in the automotive industry, high-quality logistics system can ensure that a vehicle arrives at its destination safely and efficiently.
According to Liu Liying, deputy general manager of the overseas business department of Cialis Group, Chinese brand cars are no longer inferior to European and American brand cars in terms of quality, configuration and experience, but if the costs such as logistics and tariffs are added up, it will lead to insufficient price competitiveness.
For example, Liu Liying said, for example, in the Southeast Asian market, it has basically been occupied by Japanese and Korean brands, and most shipping companies are from Japanese and Korean companies, so Japanese and Korean automobile exports will definitely have priority protection in the position, which is incomparable with Chinese brand cars.
It is understood that from the perspective of transportation methods, vehicle transportation modes mainly include container shipping, train transportation, sea-rail combined transportation, entrepot transportation and mixed transportation.
Liu Liying believes that there are still some problems in the international logistics of China's automobile exports: first, mixed loading ships still have the problems of difficult booking and high costs; Second, since October last year, the state has officially liberalized the railway transportation of new energy vehicles, but at present, the customs still treat new energy vehicles as dangerous chemicals, and the cost of dangerous chemical warehouses is very high; Third, the distribution routes in importing countries are more complicated, and the cost of overseas distribution is relatively high.
At present, the most important node resource of the logistics supply chain of China's automobile export is overseas terminals. Sun Ke, Deputy General Manager of Operation and Marketing Management Department of COSCO SHIPPING Special Transport Co., Ltd., believes that in order to help Chinese automobiles go global through top-level design and optimization mode, the automotive business should not only provide port-to-port services, but also actively build a service network and capabilities that provide the whole logistics supply chain for China's automobiles compliance.
China's automobile exports have changed from pure trade to territorial deep manufacturing, from vehicle exports to assembly, and from product exports to value exports of the entire industrial chain. Wang Xia believes that China's auto industry needs top-level design and systematic thinking, and requires the collective action of government departments, vehicle and parts enterprises, standards and certification bodies, and many aftermarket service institutions such as finance and insurance.
"Especially in the construction of the industrial chain, we must seek collaboration between Chinese car companies and local supply chains, participate in local infrastructure construction, and promote the development of local industries." Wang Xia stressed that only by achieving a win-win situation with local partners can we achieve stability and long-term success.
Seize market opportunities in Middle Eastern countries
In addition, in Wang Xia's view, Chinese cars must learn to diversify risks and adhere to long-term principles. "It is right to pay attention to the European market, but when formulating our internationalization strategy, we must also be good at discovering and nurturing more emerging markets, so that the road of globalization will become wider and wider."
In recent years, the Arab region has become a key market for Chinese car companies, and more and more companies are trying to seize the opportunities in the local new energy vehicle market. Data shows that between 2022 and 2028, the demand for electric vehicles in the UAE will grow at a rate of 30% per year.
According to Qin Chao, deputy general manager of Chery International, 77% of users in the Middle East are willing to buy new energy vehicles, of which 50% are willing to buy HEV and BEV products. In the past 5 years, the evaluation of Chinese cars in the Middle East is cost-effective, poor quality, and entry-level; Now, the evaluation of Chinese cars in the Middle East is technology, intelligence, good design, good reliability, and high recognition of Chinese cars.
With the acceleration of the trend of energy structure adjustment in the Middle East, the local government encourages foreign car companies to invest and build factories in the region. Zhang Yongwang, regional manager of Great Wall Motor Gulf Arab Countries (GCC), believes that these trends are very friendly to Chinese brands, the Middle East market is a million-vehicle market, the Middle East economic development is good, consumption tends to be rational, not blindly pursuing brands, there are many young people, strong consumption power, pay attention to technology and fashion products.
However, Zhang Jian, marketing director of the Middle East region of Dongfeng Group International Company, believes that entering the Arab country market must first pay attention to brand building, Japan, South Korea, Europe and the United States car brands have been deep into the Arab market for many years, each brand has its own story, Chinese car brands in the marketing must also tell a good brand story, in addition to paying attention to language, religion and other cultural differences and local laws and regulations and management methods.
According to CCPIT data, up to now, 11 countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Comoros have clearly proposed carbon neutrality goals. Wang Xia believes that in this context, the new energy vehicle market in GCC countries is about to usher in an explosive period.