Europe, US Fearful of Chinese Electric Cars, Says BYD Founder

At an industry summit in Chongqing, China, Wang Chuanfu, Chairman of BYD Co., delivered a pointed message regarding Western apprehensions towards Chinese electric vehicles (EVs). The billionaire founder of China’s largest auto company stated that foreign countries are “afraid” of Chinese EVs, attributing this reaction to the strength and competitiveness of China’s burgeoning car industry.

Wang emphasized, “If you are not strong enough, they will not be afraid of you,” highlighting perceptions that have led to measures potentially limiting imports of China-manufactured cars into Europe and the United States. The European Union, for instance, is anticipated to impose tariffs soon on Chinese EVs following an investigation into Beijing’s subsidies for electric vehicles. In response, China has hinted at retaliatory tariffs of its own.

Chinese automakers like MG Motors and BYD Co. have steadily increased their presence in Europe, capturing nearly 9% of the battery-only vehicle market in the region last year. Projections suggest this could rise to 20% by 2027, reflecting growing competition with established Western automakers.

BYD has pivoted decisively towards electric and hybrid vehicles, ceasing production of combustion engine cars in 2022. By the end of last year, the Shenzhen-based company had manufactured and sold 3 million electric and hybrid vehicles globally, solidifying its position among the top 10 automakers worldwide by sales volume.

Wang urged the industry to embrace heightened competition amid a transition towards electric mobility, underscoring BYD’s recent aggressive pricing strategies in China. The company’s price cuts on EVs and plug-in hybrids have positioned it competitively against traditional giants like Toyota and Volkswagen, advocating that “electricity is cheaper than oil.”

Looking ahead, Wang reiterated his belief that electric and hybrid vehicles are on an inevitable trajectory to surpass conventional combustion engines. “That is the overriding and unstoppable trend,” he affirmed.

For further insights into the dynamics shaping the global electric vehicle market and China’s role, visit Bloomberg.