The Auto Retail Network conducted a webinar this week, hosted by their Programme Chairman Al Clark, which explored how Chinese Manufacturers are planning to penetrating the UK electric vehicle market. An NFDA representative attended this webinar and has the following to report:

Urban Science’s China Managing Director, Chee-Kiang Lim, offered his insight of what Chinese Manufacturers can bring to the UK automotive market. He began by explaining how some of the largest global manufacturers, such as Volkswagen, have many joint ventures with small Chinese EV brands, and suggested this could be one outlet for them to use when entering foreign markets. Moreover, Chee-Kiang Lim highlighted how some of the more successful brands in China’s market are start-ups, founded by large tech companies, and used NIO and HiPhi as examples.

When questioned about why Chinese brands are interested in the UK market in particular, Chee-Kiang Lim gave two main reasons.

  1. The first reason was the size of the UK Electric Automobile market, suggesting that the UK are within the top three biggest markets in Europe.
  2. In addition to this, the second reason was that UK and Chinese brands tend to have a much closer relationship than alternative European brands. The example Chee-Kiang used was MG and Rover, which are both owned by Chinese businessmen.

The next speaker on this webinar was Ian Plumber, Commercial Director of Auto Trader, who responded to a question regarding how UK consumers will respond to the Chinese EV products. Ian suggested that UK consumers are ‘not very nationalistic when purchasing products’, implying that UK consumers will not discriminate against the electric vehicles Chinese brands offer.

He continued, highlighting that the current EV market leaders in the UK, Tesla and Ploestar, target an older wealthier demographic, meaning that there is a gap in the market to be filled. Using KIA, Hyundai and MG as examples, Ian Plumber highlighted Asian brands have previously been successful in the UK automotive market, encouraging Chinese brands to this as inspiration for market entry.

The final panel member of this webinar was William Brown, Managing Director of International Motors, who offered an alternative perspective. He justified that Chinese brands tend to be incredibly ambitious compared to other foreign brands and estimated that this could help them succeed in the UK electric car market. Furthermore, William identified Great Wall Motors as a brand which arose in the market very quickly, suggesting this type of ‘aggressive’ business model could be used by other brands.

The panel of members then answered a range of questions regarding Chinese brands entering the UK automotive market, asked by viewers of the webinar. A notable answer to one question came from Ian Plumber, who concluded that China’s rapid speed of growth in the EV market could cause them supply chain issues. Chinese automotive manufacturers tend to export around 3% of their cars, compared to European brands who export around 33%. Ian proposed that this could be a sign that Chinese brands may be unprepared for the big move of entering the UK market.

To watch the full Webinar, please register through the link below: