Demand for Charging Station Surges, European Production Costs Three Times Higher Than China’s

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Demand for Charging Station Surges, European Production Costs Three Times Higher Than China's

Insights from the 135th Canton Fair

“Charging an electric vehicle (EV) in our country costs $1 and can cover 50-60 kilometers. In contrast, fuel vehicles cost several times more,” said David, a buyer from Ecuador. The local interest in EVs is significant.

At the 135th Canton Fair, the New Energy Vehicles (NEV) and Smart Mobility section was the most popular area. The exhibition showcased pure electric supercars, multi-purpose vehicles, three-wheelers, four-wheel commercial vehicles, and even new energy heavy trucks.

In the first quarter of 2024, China’s auto exports were impressive. Pure electric vehicle exports reached 248,000 units, up 7.3% year-on-year, while plug-in hybrid vehicle exports hit 59,000 units, up 260%.

Market Potential and Barriers

Despite some countries erecting high trade barriers, the demand for NEVs in overseas markets is far from saturated, presenting a “blue ocean” for exports.

Wei Haigang, General Manager of GAC International Automobile Sales Service Co., Ltd., stated that 2023 marked the start of NEV exports for GAC, and 2024 is set for acceleration. They have already established assembly plants in Southeast Asia and Africa.

Price and Quality Preference

Loshkariyev, a buyer from Kazakhstan, mentioned that Chinese NEVs, such as BYD and Chery, are popular for their price and quality. Compared to European and American cars, Chinese NEVs are cheaper yet offer comparable or even better quality.

Rojas, a buyer from Bolivia, emphasized the importance of price and said he came to the Canton Fair to explore pure electric and hybrid models.

David, the Ecuadorian buyer, pointed out that $10,000 NEVs are the most popular in his country. They plan to procure 40 more vehicles, including cargo tricycles, anticipating delivery in the second half of the year.

European Market Insights

Despite restrictive trade measures, some companies continue to perform well in the European market. Hou Dafu, Overseas Brand Director of Jinpeng Group, highlighted their strong presence in Europe. Their core competitiveness lies in self-research, self-production, and an independent supply chain, ensuring cost and quality control.

The European market’s profitability is relatively high, with Europe accounting for 70% of their export sales. However, production costs in Europe are about three times higher than in China.

Shifts in Export Strategies

Since 2020, Chinese NEV export strategies have evolved. Sun Han, Sales Director at Chengdu Zhongxin Hai Industrial Group Co., Ltd., highlighted their shift from the Middle East to Central Asia and now to Southeast Asia, where high tariffs on fuel vehicles and lower tariffs on electric vehicles present favorable conditions.

Export and Local Manufacturing

Wei Haigang of GAC outlined their dual approach of exporting complete vehicles and localized operations. They have established multiple assembly plants in Africa and Southeast Asia, with the GAC Aion plant in Thailand set to complete its first phase by July 2024.

Accessory Demand and Market Expansion

The demand for automotive aftermarket services is increasing with the export of Chinese cars. Huang Wenjia, Regional Sales Manager at Xinyi Glass Holdings Limited, mentioned their focus on overseas markets, with significant demand in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. The company’s high-value-added products, such as heat insulation and coating glass, are in high demand.

Wang, the Overseas Business Manager at Shanghai Guangwei Electric Group, noted the explosive growth in overseas demand for charging stations. Despite higher production costs in Europe, the demand for household charging stations is substantial, with Europe accounting for 80% of their exports.

The Future of NEV Exports

Sun Xiaohong, Secretary-General of the Automotive Branch of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, emphasized the importance of combining trade and investment. She predicts a 15%-20% growth in China’s complete vehicle exports this year, driven by increasing bans on fuel vehicles and intensified domestic market competition.

Conclusion

For Chinese charging station companies entering overseas markets, thorough market research, local partnerships, policy monitoring, technological investment, robust after-sales service, and brand building are crucial for successful expansion.

By focusing on these aspects, Chinese NEV and charging pile companies can effectively tap into the growing demand and secure their position in the global market.

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