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Legacy Automakers Need To Play Catch Up With China’s EV Startups

Electric vehicle adoption across China continues to soar as local automakers transform the perceptions of vehicles in the region.

China’s burgeoning electric vehicle market was originally spurred by policies across the country aimed at dramatically boosting the sales of EVs. Bloomberg notes that this is no longer the case and that car manufacturers are no longer simply building EVs to comply with regulations and instead building models that have their own appeal.

Key local EV makers such as Xpeng, Hozon, Li Auto, Nio, Leap Motor, and WM Motor are selling almost 150,000 EVs each quarter, an increase of over 10x since the start of 2020.

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These companies have a strong focus on digital services, in-car connectivity, and customer-service experiences, which has helped boost the appeal of EVs in China. The companies also know that local subsidies won’t last forever and that their vehicles must continue to thrive even without generous discounts.

Foreign Automakers Are Losing Ground

The rapid rise in the popularity of EVs from China has left foreign car manufacturers scrambling for answers. In 2020, foreign automakers (through joint-ventures, though China moved to allow full overseas ownership of manufacturing sites this year) had a 61 per cent share of the Chinese car market but so far in 2022, that has declined to 49 per cent. Conversely, many Chinese automakers are increasing their footprint in international markets, such as Europe.

For example, MG Motor sold no less than 40,000 EVs in Europe last year and the likes of Nio, Xpeng, and BYD are also launching cars across the continent in smaller numbers. Various other automakers will significantly increase their international presence over the coming years.

In 2019, China said that 25 per cent of its passenger vehicle sales by 2025 would consist of new-energy vehicles. It is likely that this figure will be achieved this year, showing just how rapid the ascent of local EV startups has been.

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