The IAA in Munich, Germany is one of Europe’s most high-profile auto shows. And it was dominated by Chinese electric car firms looking to expand their presence on the continent and challenge incumbents from BMW to Fordin the new era of battery-powered vehicles.
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Chinese start-ups and players had some of the biggest stands at the event with high-profile press conferences and vehicle launches, underscoring their intention to make a splash in the European market.
China, the world’s largest EV market, has seen a tidal wave of electric car companies pop up in the last few years, driven by government subsidies and venture capital funding. But a slowing market at home, due to tepid consumer spending after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, coupled with an attractive market in Europe, has seen Chinese firms launch cars abroad and expand their footprint.
“Europe is one of the largest (second after China) mass-market vehicle markets ... If the Chinese EV makers want to secure a growth path beyond their local market, its very logical to look at Europe,” Daniel Roeska, senior research analyst at Bernstein Research, told CNBC via email.
Roeska added that Europe, with its “stringent de-facto” ban on combustion engine cars in 2035, “is pushing the market faster towards EVs at a time when most EU brands ... do not have a perfect offering yet, making market share gains easier.”
Many of the European carmakers have been seen lagging in their push into EVs at a time when Chinese players have launched dozens of new vehicles.
China makes a mark in Munich
The ambitions of Chinese EV firms were on display at the IAA. On the morning of the first day, Leapmotor, a Chinese firm headquartered in Hangzhou, announced plans to bring its C10 sports utility vehicle, or SUV, to European markets next year. In the next two years, the company said it plans to introduce five “globally-oriented” products across the world.
“All of Leapmotor’s subsequent products will be designed and developed with a global mindset and adhere to global standards,” Leapmotor CEO Zhu Jiangming said at a press conference on Monday.