media Ifri in the Media
Marc JULIENNE, cited by Mailys Pene-Lassus, Rhyannon Barlette-Imadegawa and Kyra Jaeger for Nikkei Asia

Europe faces up to China's EV dominance as carbon-zero targets loom

As Xi travels through EU this week, automakers weigh whether to fight or team up with cheaper Chinese rivals.


Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Paris on Sunday for the first leg of a continental tour aimed at easing trade tensions with an increasingly wary Europe.

Accompanied by a business delegation top heavy with the electric vehicle industry -- Envision Group, SAIC Motor and Xpeng Motors were just a few brand names -- it was as much a shopping trip for China as a speed-dating opportunity for European auto companies.

While alarmed by growing electric vehicle imports from China, which produced about 60% of the world's EVs in 2022, Europe is welcoming investment into its industry. "We want to welcome more Chinese investors to France," President Emmanuel Macron said during Monday's state visit.

Earlier that day, France's economy minister had announced an ambitious target to increase French EV sales fourfold to 800,000 cars by 2027, a sign that the European industry is waking up to the burgeoning Chinese competition.


But Europe remains ambivalent about a potential influx of Chinese EVs. The European Commission has launched an investigation into hidden subsidies in the Chinese EV sector that could result in preliminary duties being imposed on EVs in May. Permanent tariffs that need the support of a majority of member states could follow in November. Xi's visit aims to defray protectionism in European policy circles.


"It's not merely about losing market share, but thousands of jobs could be lost in the years to come," Marc Julienne, director of the Center for Asian Studies at the French Institute of International Relations, told Nikkei Asia.

He explained that unfair competition in EVs could have a society-wide impact in Europe, which is often "underestimated." In the EU, the automotive industry accounts for 13 million jobs, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

The industry is sharply divided, with some brands such as Germany's Volkswagen and BMW welcoming Chinese investment and imports, while other companies are wary.


>>> Read the article on Nikkei Asia's website.

electric vehicles International Trade Sino-European Relations Sino-French Relations Xi Jinping China Europe European Union