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European carmakers face Chinese retaliation for EU tariffs

European Carmakers Face Chinese Retaliation For Eu Tariffs

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The European Commission will apply additional duties of up to 38.1% on imported China-made electric cars from July, a move that Beijing is likely to retaliate against.

Europe’s auto industry had warned against imposing the tariffs, with German carmakers the most exposed to any counter moves as almost a third of their sales came from China in 2023, trade data shows.

Other continental automakers have largely divested their China businesses, but could be indirectly affected through their investments.

Below are the brands with exposure to China:

MERCEDES-BENZ

China accounts for a third of unit sales and just under one in five of the company’s cars sold there is imported from Germany, according to the premium automaker’s full-year results.

It exports top-end models like the S-Class and Maybach to China, while its mid-range models are produced locally.

Retaliatory tariffs on German-made cars could therefore have a disproportionate impact on profit, ODDO BHF analyst Michaël Foundoukidis said, unless they were offset by higher prices.

BMW

BMW generates nearly a third of unit sales in China but according to its annual report only 13% of those come from imported cars, mainly high-end vehicles.

It holds a 75% stake in a joint venture with China’s Brilliance Automotive which produces cars for the German group to sell in China, and also the electric iX3 for export to Europe, which will fall under the scope of EU tariffs.

Another joint venture with Great Wall Motor Co produces electric versions of the Mini Cooper and Mini Aceman in China to export globally, with Europe-bound vehicles liable for the tariffs.

VOLKSWAGEN

Volkswagen holds the biggest share of the Chinese market among foreign companies with 14.5%, where it makes around 30% of its sales.

Localising production has lowered sales of imports from Germany to just 2.5% of its China sales, excluding Porsche, according to its full-year statement.

It aims to increase its market share to 15% by 2030 and reduce costs by 40% to better compete with Chinese competitors.

BMW and Volkswagen, which has a joint venture with SAIC Motors producing EVs in Shanghai, in April pledged more than $5 billion to expand research and production in China.

PORSCHE

The Volkswagen-owned luxury carmaker is highly exposed with 21% of its sales coming from China in the first quarter, all of which are imported vehicles.

However, the premium sector has the advantage of having the highest pricing power to pass tariffs on to consumers, HSBC analysts said in a June 6 note.

VOLVO CAR

The Swedish carmaker, majority-owned by China’s Geely, generates a quarter of its unit sales in China but only around 10% of its profit, HSBC analysts said.

Sales of imported vehicles make up about 4% of Volvo’s Chinese sales with a focus on local production.

However, it started to shift some EV production to Belgium ahead of the EU tariff decision, The Times reported earlier in June.

STELLANTIS

The Franco-Italian group has one of the lowest regional exposures to China, mainly from its recent investment in Leapmotor, with which it plans to export two EV models from China by year-end.

FERRARI

Like other luxury carmakers, all Ferrari’s sales in China are imports, although at just 9% of total sales, it has the lowest regional exposure, HSBC analysts wrote.

Stellantis-owned Ferrari could also leverage its pricing power to pass on tariffs to customers.

RENAULT

The French automaker has the smallest exposure to China, where it operates through joint ventures with Jiangling Motors and Brilliance Auto, and with Nissan which has a market share of roughly 3%.

Its Dacia Spring EV is manufactured in China by local partner Dongfeng.

Renault and China’s Geely announced a joint venture in May to develop combustion and hybrid engines, hoping to improve the competitiveness of their legacy auto business.

 

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