SAIC's new EV to help China become leading vehicle export power
Ships loaded with 10,000 MG4 electric vehicles left Shanghai's Haitong port for Europe on Tuesday, marking China's largest single shipment of EVs bound for overseas markets.
In the fourth quarter, the hatchback is expected to be sold in around 20 major nations on the continent. By 2023, it will be available in some 80 countries around the world, said SAIC President Wang Xiaoqiu on Tuesday at the model's launch ceremony in Shanghai.
The MG4 EV is the first model that SAIC built using its dedicated electric platform. It was the result of SAIC's Chinese and British teams and was developed based on new car quality standards in different countries.
Fu Bingfeng, executive vice-president of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, called the model the first global model by Chinese automakers. "It opens a new chapter for SAIC and also for China's automotive industry," Fu said.
China's vehicle exports had been low compared with its production as the world's largest vehicle maker.
The situation started to change in 2021, when overseas sales doubled to 2.01 million units, ranking only behind Japan and Germany.
The surge was mainly driven by China's sufficient car supplies and a wide choice of electric and plug-in hybrid models, according to the CAAM.
The growing momentum has continued well into this year. The association said vehicle exports between January and August hit a record 1.82 million units, up 52.8 percent year-on-year, with over 340,000 being new electric vehicles.
Wang expects China will overtake Germany this year in vehicle exports as Chinese companies are at the fore of the industry's new trends like electrification and connectivity.
"We are charging ahead to overtake traditional giants like Europe, the US and Japan, and we are likely to become the world's second-largest vehicle exporter this year," he said.
Last month, SAIC's overseas sales exceeded 100,000 units for the first time, up 65.7 percent year-on-year, bringing its total exports so far this year to 580,000 units. Its major markets include Europe and Oceania.
Now with the arrival of the MG4 EV, SAIC said Europe will become the first overseas market where its annual sales will reach 100,000 units this year.
In an earlier plan, SAIC aims to sell at least 240,000 NEVs annually in Europe by 2025 as part of its goal to deliver 1.5 million vehicles to overseas markets that year.
Chen Jingyue, secretary-general of the China-Europe Association for Technical and Economic Cooperation, said the size of European markets and local policies on phasing out gasoline vehicles are presenting unprecedented opportunities for Chinese automakers.
Last year, NEV sales in Europe reached 2.3 million units, accounting for 19 percent of total vehicle sales for the year. In July, Europe proposed to sell only new cars and vans with zero emissions from 2035, said Chen at an industry forum earlier this month.
"We should seize the opportunity and step up our efforts to build a long-term advantage in EV exports," Chen said.
At the same forum, Peter Deak, a diplomat of economy and trade at the Hungarian embassy in Beijing, said the best time for Chinese EV companies to go to Europe is "now".
Deak expects around 40-50 percent of new vehicles sold in 2030 in Europe will be NEVs, which means a market of 8 to 9 million units a year.