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May 24, 2023

Fueled By EV Demand And Russia, China Is Now The World's Largest Auto Exporter

According to Nikkei Asia, China just overtook Japan as the world’s top auto exporter for the first three months of 2023. This is due to rising demand for electric vehicles worldwide and increased deliveries to Russia.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reports that their exports from January to March jumped to 1.07 million, an increase of 58 percent compared to last year.

Meanwhile, Japan exported around 950,000 vehicles during the same quarter, up 6 percent on the year. This is according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

China’s auto exports continue to grow, and industry analysts say it is poised to climb 30 percent for the full calendar year to 4 million units.

The shift to EVs and other New Energy Vehicles (NEV) has contributed to China’s rise as an auto exporting power. Exports of these NEVs have soared 93 percent year-on-year to 380,000 units. NEVs account for around 40 percent of China’s overall auto exports.

By company, Tesla’s China arm was the top exporter of new energy vehicles at 90,000 units, followed by SAIC Motor’s passenger vehicle unit at 50,000 units, and BYD at 30,000 vehicles.

Belgium, Australia, and Thailand were the top destinations of Chinese-made new energy vehicles. Thailand’s third-place position shows that Chinese automakers are using EVs to build market share in Southeast Asia, a region where Japanese automakers have long dominated.

For all Chinese-made vehicles, Russia was the top export destination in the first quarter. Exports there more than tripled from a year earlier to 140,000 units.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, other global automakers shut down Russian factories and pulled out of the market. Chinese automakers filled that vacuum.

Chery Automobile and Great Wall Motor, in particular, have expanded sales in Russia. Chery Automobile is funded by entities linked to Chinese municipal governments.

China also exported nearly 30,000 trucks, which could be used for military purposes, to Russia in the first quarter, almost seven times the volume from a year earlier. After Russia, the leading export destinations in order are Mexico, Belgium, and Saudi Arabia.

In 2009, China surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s largest market for new vehicles. The Chinese government helped the domestic EV industry grow by offering purchasing and tax incentives, as well as by developing charging infrastructure to bring electric vehicles into the mainstream.

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