China accuses EU of ‘protectionism’ as Europe set to be flooded with cheap electric cars

China has accused the European Union of protectionism as the debate over the impact and volume of cheap electric Chinese cars hots up.

The Chinese government accused the EU of “protectionism” after several Chinese car manufacturers were investigated because there were suspicions they had benefited from alleged subsidies that allowed them to outsell rival cars European carmakers.

In recent years there has been a gradual swelling of Chinese-made electric cars in both the UK and Europe as car firms are either bought by the Chinese or new car manufacturers spring out of the country.

Firms such as Geely, BYD, and SAIC, are becoming more visible on European and British roads alongside Chinese-built MGs and Lotuses.

According to RFI, France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire is meeting with representatives from Geely, BYD, and SAIC as well as China’s Commerce Minister Wang Weng Wantao.

Speaking about the meeting, Mr Le Maire said he wanted to highlight the balance he wanted to strike between maintaining relations but on a fair basis.

He explained: “We want to maintain very strong trade relations between China and France, and between China and Europe, but on the basis of a principle of fairness.”

One of the major concerns is over the price of the vehicles which can sometimes be a little lower than rivals from more established European brands.

While there are issues at a political level, what this means for customers is easier access to electric cars. In the past few years, one of the main barriers to people going electric has been the high cost of the cars.

Some of the cheapest variants of Chinese electric cars could be as much as £20,000 cheaper than comparable vehicles from older car manufacturers. It is this cost of entry to buy an electric car that is still putting some drivers off.

On the arrival of new Chinese cars, Autotrader’s Ian Plummer said: “The arrival of new Chinese entrants is likely to continue to shake up the market and bring down prices for consumers.

“Their share of new car advert views on our platform has more than tripled since March 2021. Underlying demand from consumers also remains strong after a record 89.1m visits to our website last month.”

Another barrier to electric vehicle ownership is the cost of insuring the cars once they’ve been purchased with some insurance companies refusing to insure some selected models. In response, Chinese car makers are making strategic partnerships in order to mitigate this problem for potential buyers.

Manufacturer Chery has recently partnered with Thatcham Research to ensure that every car coming off their production line is insurable.

Head of Automotive at Thatcham Research Ben Townsend said: “The goal is to ensure that Chery vehicles coming off the production line are as insurable as they are innovative, bridging the gap between cutting-edge design and practicality in maintenance and repair.”

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