For more than a decade, auto makers around the world have been nervously awaiting the day when China would start exporting sizable numbers of cars to the West. Now it seems they were worried about the wrong threat.
China is shipping just a few thousand cars a year to the European Union and virtually none to the US. But China’s exports to emerging markets are surging as its own auto market slows and its auto makers keep pouring billions into new factories. Roads in countries like Algeria, Brazil, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa are increasingly dotted with cars from manufacturers like Geely, Great Wall Motors and Chery.
Less affluent buyers from Santiago to Baghdad are starting to buy cheap Chinese cars as alternatives to used cars, motorcycles and low-end models sold by multinationals. Chinese car exports were up 21% in the first five months of this year.
Chinese automakers said they were preparing for further expansion in exports to developing countries.
“They’re easy for us to operate in,” said Steven Wang, deputy general manager for exports at Great Wall Motors Company. “In Europe, they have lots of laws for new entrants, and in Europe and the US, customers like to keep familiar brands.”
Chinese firms pose a challenge for the overseas divisions of firms like General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen and Fiat, all of which are looking to emerging markets for growth.
The New York Times