But insiders warn improvements are needed in foreign marketing, aftersales service networks
Chinese automakers are ramping up efforts to enter overseas markets with some recent successes this year. However, insiders claim there is a long way to go to achieving a solid foothold.
SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile is to make inroads into North America, with the export of vehicles to Mexico starting from January.
The Sino-US joint venture said 500 Baojun-branded compact SUVs, the first shipment, have rolled off the assembly line.
"Considering the presale orders, Mexico can become the largest overseas market for the model," said the carmaker in a statement.
The SUV, called Baojun 530, is the first model the carmaker has specifically developed for global markets.
Since its launch in 2019, it has been sold in 21 countries and regions, with deliveries totaling 96,584 units.
On Dec 12, SAIC-GM shipped the first batch of more than 290 Chevrolet Trax to Uzbekistan.
Since 2001, the joint venture has exported its products to markets in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.
According to statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, SAIC ranked first in terms of exports during the first 11 months this year, followed by Chery, Changan and Great Wall Motors.
From January to November, Chery exported a total of 100,126 vehicles, up 15 percent year-on-year. The automaker's high-end brand Exeed has entered the Russian market.
According to Chery, it is expected to export 500,000 vehicles with a value of $5 billion annually by 2025.
Besides traditional automakers, Chinese new energy vehicle startups are poised to enter overseas markets.
Last week, NEV startup WM Motor reached cooperation with two foreign companies to explore more opportunities in overseas markets.
On Wednesday, WM Motor joined hands with South Korea's Myoung Shin Group. The cooperation between the two focuses on fields including vehicle exports, production, retail and smart mobility.
WM Motor, as a leading Chinese NEV maker, has strength in NEV technologies and products, which is very much in line with the needs of South Korean electric vehicle consumers, according to a senior executive with Myoung Shin Group.
The day before, on Tuesday, the startup inked an agreement with Enel X, a subsidiary of Italian energy giant Enel.
Based on the strategic cooperation agreement reached by the two sides, WM Motor will take advantage of Enel X's network covering more than 80 countries and regions, to promote its export of electric vehicles.
As scheduled, WM Motor's products will arrive in the Southeast Asian market in the first quarter of 2021.
Nio founder and CEO William Li said: "We hope to enter some countries that are more welcoming to electric cars in the second half of 2020."
It is reported that Nio's first foray into the foreign market will be in Europe, with no specific country disclosed.
Statistics show that China exported 36,900 NEVs in total in the first six months this year, up 140.7 percent from the same period of 2019.
However, insiders said that Chinese NEV makers' exporting vehicles to Europe may have gained more publicity significance than practical. In order to gain a foothold in overseas markets, they should first solve the problems of the lack of overseas marketing and aftersales service networks.
Chinese NEV companies should pay attention to not only improving their products, but also developing related industries like charging and battery swapping, to make solid strides in overseas markets, insiders said.