Home » China’s Biggest EV Automaker Is Using Soccer Madness To Conquer Europe

China’s Biggest EV Automaker Is Using Soccer Madness To Conquer Europe

Byd Seal Tmd
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Europe, for all of its bluster, hasn’t taken a completely hard line against the import of Chinese electric cars and hybrids. The resistance in the United Kingdom has been even weaker. Now that the tariff issue has been temporarily resolved, China’s leading EV automaker has a gambit to pierce the heart of even the toughest skeptic: Soccer.

If soccer doesn’t work, there’s always cheap local production. Stellantis has started manufacturing its first cheap Chinese-designed electric cars in Poland in advance of an expanded rollout later this year. This is possibly one way to avoid tariffs, which are coming to Europe and have resulted in a bit of delicious retaliation from China.

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Shifting back to the United States, there was a huge spike in used car sales in May, which I think is more proof of my theory that people simply cannot wait much longer to replace their aging vehicles.

Euro 2024 Tourney Leads To 69% Increase In BYD Searches

When the topic of soccer comes up I tend to remember the old Dave Eggers line about how only communists play sports with their feet. At the very least, communists are happy to pay for Europeans to play sports with their feet.

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BYD is an official partner of the Euro 2024 tournament, which is where all of Europe’s soccer teams battle one another. Streaming TV deals, Ted Lasso, Ryan Reynolds, and the success of the USWNT have all conspired to get Americans to care a little more about soccer. This is why some of your friends pretend to be experts in the sport for a couple of weeks every four years.

On the other side of the Atlantic, everyone is an expert and everyone is watching. A record 10 million+ people in the United Kingdom watched Germany kick the ever-lovin’ crap out of Scotland (it’s a shite state of affairs to be in). Data shows both the wanker colonizers and colonized-by-wankers are at least open to the idea of being invaded by Chinese cars.

According to data from Auto Trader UK, traffic on the car sales/research site for BYD vehicles increased by 69% during the weekend, with most buyers interested in the BYD Seal. Here’s what Auto Trader editorial director Erin Banker had to say:

“Our traffic data shows that this tournament is already triggering a step-change in awareness of BYD little more than a year after they entered the UK market. This high-profile media partnership only underlines their ambitions in Europe where they face tough competition from the well-established legacy brands. BYD’s sales are growing rapidly, albeit from a low base, and the Euros partnership has the potential to cement them in the public consciousness.”

It was here I was going to make a joke about pitching cars and soccer pitches, but I can’t quite make it work. Please give me your best soccer/BYD/Euro joke in the comments.

Another quote I like about soccer is the Lewis Black one about how Europe has avoided another continent-wide war by engaging in the far more violent and nationalistic UEFA soccer tournament. The War in Ukraine undermines this a bit, although I think I’d allow a Russian team in the tourney if the Russian army would leave Ukraine. Fair trade?

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Leapmotor Is Starting To Produce Its $20,000 EV In Poland

Leapmotor T03 2
Photo: Leapmotor

While Stellantis has some screwy plans for North America, the company’s co-venture with Chinese automaker Leapmotor (of which Stellantis is the majority shareholder) makes a lot of sense to me. Chinese firms, for various reasons, got ahead of everyone else at making EVs. Chinese automakers also sell the kind of small, supermini-class electric vehicles that are popular in Europe.

With a large number of plants in Europe, Stellantis has the right footprint to produce Chinese-designed cars locally. In this case, the company’s plant in Tichy, Poland has begun to do some early test production of the intriguing Leapmotor T03. This is a small car (about half a foot shorter than a Mitsubishi Mirage) that should cost around $20,000 when it goes on sale later this year and deliver 145 miles of range on the WLTP city cycle.

Automotive News Europe is reporting that, from a financial performance perspective, localized production  works:

Manufacturing costs at the Polish plant amount to around €400 to €500 ($428.08-$535.10) per car, similar to those at Leapmotor’s base in China, versus around €1,000 in Italy, the management said according to Jefferies.

Leapmotor is another one of those Chinese companies facing new tariffs on imported cars, though on the lower end at 21% (plus the 10% on all imports). Building in Europe should, so far as I can tell, help the company avoid the fee. While the supermini might be popular, the company also plans to produce its more Model Y-sized SUV, the A12, in Poland next year.

Forget The Chicken Tax, Here Comes The Pork Tax

Jamon
Photo: Amazon

While China has mostly shrugged off the new European tariffs, this doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be some form of retaliation. China has already threatened to add a 25% tax on top of large-engined cars from Germany and to punish French cognac producers.

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What about the rest of the EU? China might hit them right in the chops:

From Reuters:

China has opened an anti-dumping investigation into imported pork and its by-products from the European Union, a step that appears mainly aimed at Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark, in response to curbs on its electric vehicle exports.

The investigation announced by China’s commerce ministry on Monday will focus on pork intended for human consumption, such as fresh, cold and frozen whole cuts, as well as pig intestines, bladders and stomachs. The probe will begin on June 17.

The joke here is that the EU did an investigation into Chinese electric cars before pushing tariffs as high as 38% on the country’s automakers.

Retail Used-Vehicle Sales Up 15.9% Month Over Month

May 2024 Monthly Used Vehicle Retail Sales Volume

The green line on this chart of retailed used car sales shows a massive increase in sales that are way ahead of what we saw last year. What’s going on?

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The chart comes from Cox Automotive and here’s what they had to say:

“Following a less-than-spectacular spring selling season, May used-vehicle retail sales rebounded to the highest level so far this year,” said Scott Vanner, senior analyst of Economic and Industry Insights at Cox Automotive. “In fact, used retail sales volume is higher than any month since March 2022, when tax refunds were juicing the market.”

It’s worth noting that March 2022 was an ideal time for used car sales because interest rates were low, people were flush with refund cash/stimulus money, and there were very few new cars available.  The fact that we’re close to that number I think shows that there’s still a ton of pent-up demand in the market and, while incentives are up, higher interest rates are making it harder for people to swallow huge car payments.

If I were running a large multinational car company sitting on extra inventory I’d be tempted to lean heavily on financing deals to move cars.

What I’m Listening To While Writing TMD

Can I brag a little bit about an old friend? My pal Will Butler wrote the music for a play called “Stereophonic” (go see it!) about a band recording their breakout album. It put Will in the position of having to write a fake ’70s rock album, which sounds super hard! The play won many Tony Awards, including “Best Play” and I’m just super happy for my dude.

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Also, it allows me to retell the story of how non-musical I am in a much funnier context. It must have been 9th grade and Will and I were both at a speech and debate tournament in some random Texas suburban high school (Cy Falls?). There was always a ton of downtime between rounds and one can only play so much Egyptian Ratscrew. Knowing that Will was musical I suggested we compose a song together based on a tune in my head.

Will dutifully recorded the notes and played out the tune on the small portable keyboard he carried with him. By the end of the day, I was sure we had a hit on our hands. When the basic song was worked out I asked Will to play it all back for me.

“Why does this sound familiar?”

“It does sound familiar.”

“I think it’s the theme song to Bewitched.”

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“Damn, it’s the theme song to Bewitched.”

I gave up songwriting/composing then and there, which the world is surely better for, though I’m glad Will wasn’t so discouraged.

The Big Question

What are your friends saying about buying new/used cars?

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DONALD FOLEY
DONALD FOLEY
24 days ago

The song “Stereophonic Sound” was written by Cole Porter, and performed by Fred Astaire and Janis Paige in 1957.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
24 days ago
Reply to  DONALD FOLEY

Fun fact: Cole Porter wrote over 1,000 songs (music and lyrics).

Less fun fact: he had to have 30+ surgeries on his leg after a horse riding accident. He eventually lost the leg and that wrecked his final years.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
24 days ago

Most people I’ve heard talk about considering a new (or new to them) car are cringing at how much they cost.

Despite the cost, I’d probably buy one next weekend if Toyota had any to sell me and the dealer wasn’t a POS.

Ohgodwhyme
Ohgodwhyme
24 days ago

Freakonomics podcast just did a great episode on ‘Stereophonic’. Well worth a listen if you want to find out more about how the play came to be.

https://freakonomics.com/podcast/how-to-make-the-coolest-show-on-broadway/

Myk El
Myk El
24 days ago

Regarding friends buying new/used cars…a few would very much like to have a new(er) car, they just don’t want to go through the process.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
23 days ago
Reply to  Myk El

I’d say you have the correct answer here. Someone enters the market only when their willingness to waste all that time is exceeded by their absolute need or want to purchase.

Bought a K5 for my wife in March. I had already sold her G6 three weeks prior, she had been using my car. I said, “You know, you said you needed a new car, here we are, you gonna buy one or not?” She said, “I will, I just don’t want to have to.”

I understand why dealers exist and have no problem with it but there’s simply no need for the process to be as stupid as it is.

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