The German car manufacturers have to worry about their gold donkey: China has been the most important sales market for BMW, Mercedes, VW and Co. for years. With the switch to electric cars, however, things are now looking bleak.
Not interested in electric cars? The Chinese ignore German brands
The figures from German car manufacturers for China are alarming: VW is the only brand that can still claim a not inconsiderable share of the Chinese e-car boom. 2.4 percent of pure electric cars, that were sold in China in 2022, account for the Wolfsburg. BMW, Mercedes and Audi just manage it 0.8, 0.3 and even just 0.1 percent respectively. This is the result of insurance figures that are mandatory for new cars in China (source: Handelsblatt).
This is bitter for the German car manufacturers in several respects: On the one hand, they are far from as good a position in China with e-cars as is still the case with combustion engines. The German brands sell across the board more than a third of their annual sales in China. On the other hand, Stromer are increasingly becoming the new star in the car sky – and with them their manufacturers, most of which are local brands.
BYD, Nio and GWM, for example, are not only slowly but surely doing more business in Europe. In China they are the absolute shooting stars. No other manufacturer has sold more electric vehicles in China than BYD with a share of good 16 percent of new registrations. In a year-on-year comparison, they have Plus of 90 percent almost doubled. A total of around 200,000 pieces come from German brands.
All clear signs of how attractive the Chinese market still is. But BMW, Mercedes and Co. have obviously not found the right remedy. As a foreign manufacturer only Tesla can keep up to some extent and comes to 7.8 percent. The most successful electric car in China – and thus in the world – is not a luxurious sedan or a bulky SUV. As the name suggests, the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV is a Mini e-car for little money and has almost 410,000 new registrations alone.
Real competition: while the German brands are no longer popular in China, we like the China e-cars more and more.
More software, less car: That’s what customers in China want
On top of that, Chinese providers can do practically everything better that Chinese customers care about: connected cars, that connect to the internet and smartphone, or voice control want to see motorists here. Software problems a la VW cannot be sold well there. While the German car manufacturers in China are weakening, more and more models from Chinese manufacturers are coming to us. To the chagrin of Mercedes, BMW and especially VW, they are also impressive.
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