Europe is divided over electric cars from China, with those who don't want them and those who produce them third

Are we missing a train? And is it worth it to us? The Chinese electric car, leader of the expanding market, physically lands in Europe driven by growing sales numbers, but above all by the attempt to avoid import duties. Locating on the Old Continent, also for production, is the anti-duties strategy implemented by Beijing. And so the “purchase campaign” between European countries began and Rome risks standing by and watching. The Chery affair demonstrates this. The Chinese car manufacturer will open a factory in Spain, instead of Italy. It is its first European factory and will be near Barcelona. This plant, which will produce electric cars under the Omoda and Jaecoo brands, represents a major step forward for the Chinese automotive industry on the European continent. Chery's investment in Spain is the second attempt, after BYD's in Hungary, to localize production on the European continent.

Spain is jumping on the bandwagon. It is at the top of the ranking of European car manufacturers with 2.4 million cars in 2023 (three times more than Italy and double compared to France) without having a “national parent company”, but attracting from abroad for infrastructure, government incentives and support. And so Chery also arrived and, after negotiations with Rome, chose Barcelona. In recent weeks the Chinese company was increasingly seen as a protagonist in Italy alongside Stellantis to take on the role of second manufacturer. But, eventually he will go to Spain. Reuters sources speak of little response to Chinese requests from the Italian government.

Rome has been asking for a leap in made-in-Italy electricity production for months. “Stellantis is no longer sufficient to reach the goal of 1.3 million vehicles built per year in our country,” the Minister of Business and Made in Italy Adolfo Urso has repeated several times. And to the request for at least 200 thousand cars a year the company responded with “we are still waiting for the incentives” and a warning from CEO Carlos Tavares “Factories at risk if Chinese car manufacturers arrive in Italy”. And in the meantime the possibility of producing the Chinese Leapmotor-like 500 in Mirafiori has disappeared (Stellantis will produce it in Poland), Chery lands in Spain and no negotiations with foreign producers at the moment seem to have given the desired results.

All this with the European market welcoming more and more Chinese brands, the year 2023 saw an unprecedented boom, with 7 new brands added to the 23 already present and with the Chinese brands recording the sale of 322,000 units in 2023 , with an increase of 79% compared to the previous year, bringing their market share to a record 2.6% (Jato analysis).

But the localization of Chinese production will continue and strengthen not because of the numbers (volumes are still small) but to avoid possible new and additional duties on imports. Brussels is thinking of imposing tariffs of up to 10 thousand euros on the least expensive Chinese electric models, to stem the Beijing market and protect the European one. Do you want to stop the arrival of Chinese electric cars? And then Beijing builds them on European territory. Unless Europe follows the United States, including cars produced by China in Europe among the products subjected to duties or disadvantaged by incentives. Even more so since Beijing, in gaining a foothold on European territory, does not give up on “bringing with it” the Chinese parts directly from the homeland. Meanwhile, China enters Europe, passing through Spain, which is growing in the sector while Italy? Miss a train?