China is fast growing into one of the top suppliers of new cars to Australian purchasers, with Chinese carmakers’ rising market share of electric vehicles in their market, increasing the transition from fossil fuel-powered transportation.
In 2022, the sales of Chinese-made cars in Australia totaled 122,845 units. This is a 61.1 percentage increase from the year prior, according to Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries figures. In December, imports from China exceeded the double figure from one year earlier.
The rise has made China the fourth largest importer, narrowing the gap to more prominent competitors. Automobiles made in Japan remain the most popular, taking only one-third of 1.1m vehicles, even though sales fell by nearly 6 percent over the year. Imports from Thailand at 245,000 and South Korea at just over 159,000 grew just a little less than 10 percent.
Expanding electric vehicle charging networks will require more funding from the government, Advocates say.
The chamber’s director for communications, Peter Griffin, said China was expanding as an automotive manufacturer and redefining its previous role as a producer of components used in cars made elsewhere.
“Increasingly … we are seeing automotive brands manufacturing entire vehicles in China and the emergence of Chinese-owned car brands,” Griffin added. “More carmakers in the global automotive market means more competition, which is a win for consumers.”
China’s automobile market has been the largest in the world for the past decade. Local companies have been increasingly competitive against international brands, helped by purchasing foreign producers like Sweden’s Volvo or other brands such as Britain’s MG.
China is also transforming into a significant exporter of cars as shipments will increase by 54% by 2022 and reach 3.1m, according to Caixin, the Chinese financial news website.
Chinese companies like BYD, which is supported by US billionaire Warren Buffett, XPeng, Li Auto, and Nio, make the majority of the domestic sales of electric vehicles which gives them a chance to compete with international markets, a report in the British Financial Times said this week.
“Chinese consumers will buy about 8m to 10m EVs this year, up from record sales of 6.5m vehicles last year and 3.5m in 2021,” the FT said, citing the analysts and company forecasts. In contrast, in 2023, EV production in Europe was expected to reach 3 million as opposed to in the US just 2 million.
The head of the Australian Electric Vehicle Council, Behyad Jafari, claimed Australians were becoming more comfortable buying Chinese-made vehicles, including electric cars. The most well-known brands, like Tesla, a US-based company, and Polestar, the Volvo offshoot, bought the cars they offered from Australia directly from Chinese factories.
The growth of Chinese automakers could accelerate the switch away from diesel and petrol-powered cars, especially since their low-cost options allow more Australians to switch, Jafari predicted.
The sales of EVs in Australia will increase by more than a third in 2022, he stated.
“Certainly, the Chinese market is accelerating towards electric vehicles,” Jafari declared. “The next BYD model coming out is expected to cost under $40,000 … therefore, we’re witnessing Chinese companies tackling many of the issues regarding cost-effectiveness.
“Chinese companies are innovating more quickly. They’re hungry and more modern and doing these things and they’re able to offer more affordable products with a speedier pace.”
Toyota is among the car manufacturers which are set to reduce part of the market in Australia.
The Japanese company has 22% of the market; however, it has needed to be faster to launch electric vehicles with plug-ins, favoring its hybrid technology, which combines electric and petrol motors. The first models, like the bZ4X, are expected to be available mid-2023.
However, Griffin added that Chinese automakers would have it differently.
“In the short term we are likely to see continued growth in Chinese automotive manufacturing, particularly battery electric vehicles,” He said.
“However, as carmakers roll out more zero and low emission products, the manufacturing of battery electric, hybrid and plug in hybrid vehicles will increase elsewhere, reflecting the global nature of the automotive industry.”
Wherever EVs are found and sold, the Australian market appears to be ripe more.