The European Union (EU) has launched an investigation into the surge of Chinese electric vehicle (EV) imports, which have been flooding the European market. The investigation comes as concerns grow over the distortion of the market and the potential impact on domestic European automakers.
China’s EV industry has seen exponential growth in recent years, with imports from China jumping 113% in the first nine months of 2023 compared to the previous year. These imports are heavily subsidized by the Chinese government, resulting in artificially low prices that undercut European automakers.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted the need to protect Europe’s clean economy and called for action to address the unfair advantage of Chinese EVs. The investigation was informally requested by French carmakers and the French government, and although it had mixed reception among industry groups, the move was welcomed by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.
German car brands such as Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW have significant investments in China’s EV sector, manufacturing electric cars for export to Europe. This has led to a surge in Chinese EV imports, impacting the domestic market share of European automakers.
The investigation comes at a crucial time for the European solar industry as well, which has faced similar challenges in the past. The EU previously imposed anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese solar panels but later repealed them due to renewable energy goals. However, concerns of Chinese dumping persist, with reports of Chinese solar panels stockpiling in European warehouses.
Industry leaders are calling for action to prevent a similar situation in the EV industry. Solar industry bodies have written to political leaders, urging emergency purchases of European solar panel stocks and highlighting the intentional attack by Chinese PV (photovoltaic) manufacturers. They also called for an immediate ban on solar panels made using forced labor, citing the US move to exclude such products from Xinjiang.
The investigation into Chinese EV imports highlights the need for Europe to protect its domestic industries and ensure a level playing field. The EU’s response to these challenges will have long-term implications for the future of the European automotive and solar sectors.
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