FINANCE

Europe ‘afraid’ of Chinese EVs, says BYD boss Wang Chuanfu, ahead of likely EU tariff hike

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Foreign countries are “afraid” of Chinese electric vehicles, BYD Co. Chairman Wang Chuanfu said in a swipe at European and US efforts to constrain imports of China-made cars.

“There are many examples of politicians in other countries who are worried about EVs in China,” Wang said in a speech at an industry summit in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing Friday.

The 58-year-old billionaire founder of China’s biggest auto company said the reaction by Western countries is testament to the strength of China’s car industry. “If you are not strong enough, they will not be afraid of you,” he told the audience.

The European Union is expected to unveil tariffs in the coming weeks targeting Chinese electric cars following a probe into Beijing’s EV subsidies, a move that will likely hurt the small-but-growing number of imports into Europe. China has hinted it will retaliate with its own 25% tariffs, as trade tensions continue to escalate.

EVs made by Chinese brands like MG Motors and BYD Co. accounted for just under 9% of battery-only vehicles sold in Europe last year, according to Dataforce. This is set to rise to about a fifth by 2027, lobby group Transport & Environment said in March.

BYD has risen to become a dominant player in the EV industry, having halted production of cars solely with combustion engines in early 2022. By last year, the Shenzhen-based auto giant made and sold 3 million electric and hybrid vehicles, cracking the top 10 list of global automakers by sales.

In his speech Friday, Wang called on the industry to embrace greater competition if it is to manage the transition to electric vehicles.

In recent months, BYD has led a new price war in China, slashing the cost of its EVs and plug-in hybrids across the board. The company has targeted traditional automakers like Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG, with the slogan “electricity is cheaper than oil.”

Wang added that electric and hybrid vehicles are on their way to overtaking conventional engines. “That is the overriding and unstoppable trend,” he said.

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