As China grapples with a decline in exports of various goods, including electronics and furniture, one industry is bucking the trend: the automobile sector.
Chinese carmakers are flooding global markets with their vehicles, capitalizing on overseas demand for affordable cars manufactured in China.
This demand primarily centers on gasoline-powered models, which have fallen out of favor with Chinese consumers increasingly opting for electric cars.
The popularity of these vehicles has led to an unexpected problem for Chinese automakers: a shortage of specialized ships to transport them abroad.
This issue has particularly affected exports to Europe, a market Chinese automakers are keen to penetrate.
To address this challenge, shipyards along the Yangtze River are constructing a fleet of car-carrying vessels designed as massive floating parking lots, capable of transporting over 5,000 cars each.
These ships will help meet the growing global demand for Chinese-made automobiles.
In recent years, China’s automobile industry has made significant strides in capturing international markets.
Russian markets have seen substantial Chinese car imports, predominantly transported by train. Chinese automakers have also gained substantial market shares in regions such as Southeast Asia, Australia, South America, and Mexico.
However, due to lingering tariffs imposed during the Trump era, sales to the United States remain restrained.
Exports of Chinese vehicles have surged, witnessing an 86 percent increase through July this year. The industry has quadrupled its exports in just three years, overtaking Japan as the world leader.
This expansion is attributed to the surplus of gasoline-powered vehicles left in the wake of Chinese consumers’ preference for electric cars.
Domestically, Chinese households have reduced spending on various products, including cars, amid declining real estate prices.
Electric vehicles produced by local manufacturers have secured the lion’s share of the market, leaving a surplus of gasoline-powered cars that are now being offered at bargain prices abroad.
Chinese automakers find themselves with around 15 million units of unused factory capacity to produce gasoline-powered cars annually.
To address this oversupply, over four million cars have been exported this year to foreign markets, often at competitive prices.
Chinese automakers have been gaining market share worldwide. Factors such as cheaper steel and electronics, support from local governments in the form of subsidies, and favorable interest rates and loans have positioned Chinese car manufacturers as competitive players in the global automotive sector.
Chinese cars, even those with conventional combustion engines, have garnered attention for their quality and technological advancements.
China’s focus is now on expanding its exports to Europe, particularly with established brands like Volvo and MG. European and Singaporean shipping lines, partnering with Chinese automakers, have placed orders for almost all the world’s pending car-carrying vessels.
This development marks a significant shift, as only four such ships were ordered annually before China’s auto export boom.
Despite this remarkable expansion into global markets, one glaring omission in Chinese car exports remains: the United States.
Almost no Chinese vehicles are entering the U.S. market at present, largely due to tariffs imposed during the Trump administration.
These tariffs, which affect gasoline and electric cars, gasoline engines, and electric car batteries, remain in place and provide significant discretion to the U.S. trade representative for future adjustments.Email your news TIPS to Editor@kahawatungu.com or WhatsApp +254707482874