Home » Chinese Car Companies Had A Huge Year In Europe And They’re Just Getting Started

Chinese Car Companies Had A Huge Year In Europe And They’re Just Getting Started

New Project

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve, Autopians! It’s a slow news day and I’m calling it early for the staff today because they more than earned an end-of-year break after building up this incredible car publication over the past eight months. Also, I may need to send an extraction team to recover David and Jason later, because that operation feels like it’s going increasingly sideways.

In the meantime, for 2022’s final Morning Dump, we have news about the Chinese auto industry’s rise in Europe; our allies in that continent being none too happy about our Inflation Reduction Act; and the e-bike boom we’ll see even more of in 2023. Let’s do this!

China’s European Boom

The car you see above is a 2023 MG EV4. Looks pretty slick, doesn’t it? It’s not a bad deal, either; for an entry-level price of 28,420 Euros in Germany, you get 217 miles of EV range on Europe’s WLTP cycle, 10 to 80 percent fast-charging in 35 minutes, and a package that competes with the Volkswagen ID.3. Also, a high-performance version with 443 horsepower is coming next year too for about 39,000 Euros.

We equate MG with vintage roadsters in America, but these days the brand is owned by China’s SAIC and production happens there as well.

Cars like this are why the Chinese automakers had a pretty successful year in Europe, according to Automotive News. EVs in particular are booming there:

Car manufacturers in China exported $3.2 billion worth of electric vehicles in November, up 165 percent from a year ago to reach the highest-ever monthly total, data from the nation’s customs authority showed.

European countries such as Belgium and England were the biggest importers, taking up nearly 70 percent of the shipments.

Exports of electric passenger vehicles accounted for more than half of the total car shipments for two months in a row, with November registering a record high of $6 billion in exports.

As that story notes, the wave of Chinese exports comes as the European OEMs seek to expand production of both cars and parts in that country thanks to limited capacity at home (and, we have to assume, because costs are far cheaper too.)
So far, Chinese-built cars in America remain relatively rare; there’s the Polestar 2 and a few others from Volvo and General Motors. But if they’re doing this well in Europe, it’s getting harder and harder to see why the same couldn’t happen in the U.S. There’s a lot of U.S.-China trade friction, hefty tariffs and concerns over tech, privacy and security (look at TikTok, for just one example.) China’s home market grows by leaps in bounds every year, and I mean that in terms of both exports and quality. You know the automakers want this to happen. BYD in particular is one I’m keeping my eyes on in 2023; Warren Buffett’s been paring his stake back a bit in recent months, but he’s still a believer.
Renault Twingo 1
Pictured: Europeans, probably mad at us over EV tax breaks despite their smiles 

Europe’s Mad Over The Inflation Reduction Act

Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about the revised new car (and used car, now) EV tax credits implemented under the Inflation Reduction Act. If you’re up to speed, you know the goal is to localize the EV supply chain so America doesn’t cede total battery and production dominance to China (see above!) But it also means that for cars to qualify for tax credits, they have to have “final assembly” done in North America.

Naturally, this is bad news for European automakers. (And Subaru, and Toyota, and Hyundai/Kia… you get the drift.) Earlier this month, French president Emmanuel Macron visited President Joe Biden and said, bro, we are straight-up not having a good time over this stuff.

More or less. And in French, one assumes. You get the idea.

Right now, the U.S. is working on it. But recently updated guidance hasn’t resolved all of the Europeans’ concerns yet. Here’s the Financial Times on Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU trade commissioner:
On Thursday night the commission welcomed new US guidance indicating EU companies could benefit from the commercial clean vehicle credits under the IRA, saying it reflected “constructive engagement” by the two sides. However Brussels stressed it remained concerned by discriminatory provisions affecting other clean vehicles.

Responding to the new US guidance, Dombrovskis said: “We welcome this important first step, which is the outcome of our fruitful discussions with the US. EU companies should now be able to take advantage of the US Commercial Clean Vehicle Credits. However, we will continue talks within our joint task force regarding other aspects of the IRA where we have important concerns.”

The other focus is on requirements that battery components be sourced from the US or its trade partners. While the EU does not have a trade deal with the US, Dombrovskis hopes that the geographical scope of this can be drawn sufficiently widely to include the bloc.

“There are some openings, there is some work ongoing but we are not quite there yet,” said Dombrovskis.

Basically, we got us a little bit of a trade fight going into next year as the IRA gets put into place. The IRA is a huge boon for American car and battery production (and American manufacturing jobs) but the auto industry’s a very global one now. Some countries are likely to get their feelings hurt here.
Lectric.sept22.3.0launch.9 1
Photo: Lectric Bikes

The Quiet E-Bike Revolution

As I said, it’s a slow news day on the car front. There’s only so much I can do. I’m just a newsman, dammit, not an extremely powerful sorcerer. So let us turn our attention instead to another are of “mobility” that’s quietly blowing up and may keep doing so next year: e-bikes. Here’s CNBC:

“The level of ridership has almost doubled or more every year since 2015,” said Mike Radenbaugh, the founder and chairman of Rad Power Bikes. “And we see no slowing of that in the years forward as we look at fuel prices increasing and other challenges to transportation only getting worse.”

This trend is in large part due to the variety of options that have entered the market. Some are built specifically for certain jobs such as food delivery, others are designed to fold up or built with extra seats for kids.

Now, they’re being used as a convenient micro-mobility transportation option for those who don’t want the inconveniences and costs that come with a car.

As for some news, TechCrunch reports more of these companies may go public next year and they stand to benefit from an array of state and local subsidies. But for them to catch on, better regulation and tech is needed to ensure safety. From that story:

“There is a major convergence happening in which bike tech is quickly catching up to automobile tech. There are more connected bikes hitting the market everyday,” Will White, co-founder of Mapbox, an online map provider, told TechCrunch. “Bikes are already starting to ship with integrated ADAS features like radar for rear-vehicle detection, but this is just the beginning. Soon, we will start to see more technology to provide safety and comfort for riders, including AI-equipped cameras for hazard detection, and smarter turn-by-turn navigation that guides riders on the most comfortable route out of harm’s way.”

White said safety and security are the top concerns for prospective e-bike buyers. Aside from alerts to danger on the road, features like navigation to avoid dangerous roads and asset tracking to deter thieves and enable recovery of stolen bikes will help to spur greater adoption.

Maybe we should start doing e-bike and scooter reviews here at The Autopian next year. And why don’t more cars come with these built-in? Honda was onto something 40 years ago.

The Flush

How, and when, do you think Chinese brands will catch on in America? Would you buy one? People certainly don’t think of Polestar that way and those cars have been remarkably well-received so far.
Share on facebook
Share on whatsapp
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit

72 Responses

  1. I have a rad power bike and the quality, range, and power are excellent. My only criticism might be it’s heavy weight, but given what it is expected to do for a reasonable price, it does not seem unreasonable. It transformed riding on Seattle’s hilly streets from something exhausting that required at least some planning, into something I could choose to do on a whim. And the ability to hold speed up hills and accelerate across intersections makes commuting on it massively easier and safer.

  2. Buying an e-bike last spring was a revelation. I was able to go grocery shopping without the car, strapping cases of seltzer and large bottles of laundry detergent on the rear rack. I rode from the near Chicago suburbs to Lake Michigan almost every weekend. I could ride from my home in Oak Park to my partner’s home in Evanston in half time time of public transit.

    Google Maps has decent bike navigation in dense areas, directing me onto quieter streets whenever it can. However, it’s not perfect. For trips to my favorite local Target, Google advised cutting through a graveyard. Great (if spooky), but there was a bridge that I needed to cross that was out. I had no way to report this to Google, so every time I try to go to that Target I get directed the wrong way. I don’t know how Apple Maps or other services are handling bikes, I’m sure someone out there has done a comparison.

  3. Were I consulted, I would advise a Chinese car maker to export cheap basic transportation to begin with. Make them solid, not fancy. Avoid the latest gadgets and concentrate on building a reputation for dependability. Pull a Hyundai and offer a long warranty-and build them so that it isn’t often needed.

    This way, they’re not competing as much with the domestics, and can really ramp up & go after them when their cheap cars turn out to be surprisingly good. The stereotype is that the Chinese plan long-term, not only for next quarter’s profits, and this strategy would work well for them. In my opinion-pretty much uninformed though it be.

    1. If you check out Bjorn Nyland’s YouTube channel, you will find a lot of Chinese EVs are pretty basic. In the end, touch screens, actuators etc save a lot of labour. A lot of car parts are commoditized. I think the Chinese has the advantage that EVs are easier to make, and are not beholden to the Tier 1 suppliers like Bosch, Continental etc. which a lot of Europeans and US car manufacturers do.

      1. China should sell a cheap car here. Other car companies are killing off their less-expensive cars, so a Chinese company or two can easily step in and take over that category.

        People can’t afford used cars anymore, stuck buying used.

    2. Chinese products do very well, and there is no reason to believe cars would be any different, as long as they aren’t overly distinguishable from other brands. There will be those that do their research and avoid Chinese brands due to security concerns, humanitarian concerns, or concern over China’s attempt to gain trade dominance. But most people don’t do much research, and they will buy the most appealing option based on price, features, appearance, and perceived quality.

      Toyota knew that when people called out their political donations. Their sales aren’t hurt, because people want Toyota reliability. Ford knew that the reports of quality issues wouldn’t stop people from wanting the Bronco. Chinese companies know that bringing over crossovers and SUVs at a reasonable price will make sales. As long as the compete with Nissan and not Subaru, they will get market share fairly quickly. Especially if they buy the rights to recognizable brands. MG and Polestar don’t seem Chinese to people who do minimal research.

  4. Chinese brands will catch on in America when they arrive in volume and are priced at a discount relative to their quality. We’re kind of slutty like that. A lot of first buyers ignore the fact that any warranty promised is useless if the company fails or pulls out.

    The Chinese makers have been buying up old European brand trademarks to ease the current push into Europe. They already have succeeded there. Many of those brands are useful in Africa, Asia and South America as well as the US, Canada and Mexico.

    I expect at least two Chinese automakers to have a permanent place in the US market within 6 years, first on the west coast, then the east coast, and nationwide within 8 years. I would have guessed less than half that before the IRA was enacted. Given the IRA law, expect Chinese makers to take longer in Europe and maybe even focus on the rest of the world first.

    1. We bought 165,000 Yugos based on a $3,990 entry price, if something’s cheap enough, Americans absolutely will overlook a lot of other details and just go for it

        1. For many, there’s no real choice in the matter. You can’t wish into existence money you don’t have, and a brutal form of economic triage takes over the household budget, not because of greed or an inherent desire for low quality but cheap, but as a survival necessity. Half of Americans don’t have $500 saved for an emergency, and nearly 3/4 of the population lives paycheck to paycheck.

          Although I must say, for what it was, the Yugo is not at all a bad car. When I spoke with Jason in St. Louis, he confirmed his Yugo was the fastest car in his fleet, and among the most reliable. I compared it to the Trabant, but he corrected me that the Yugo was improved greatly over its contemporary Soviet-era crapcans by feedback/parts/engineering from Fiat. That brief conversation on the subject makes me WANT a Yugo at some point in the future, and a Trabant to go with it. I’d love to paint them up all red with a yellow hammer and sickle on the hood, then pervert them into really fast electric drag machines to bait those all-American Corvettes, Vipers, Hellcats, and Demons at the strip with. Communist crapcans FTW!

          With today’s EV technology, it is possible to make a modern equivalent to the Yugo as an EV, that is maintenance free, mechanically bulletproof, and cheap. I’m thinking a $6-8k runabout with 0-60 mph in under 8 seconds, a top speed of 80+ mph, and a real-world 60-80 mile range at 70 mph, can be done, if you can get the production volume high enough. Using LiFePO4 batteries, battery life could be well over 250,000 miles, and if kept small enough, battery replacement cost could be $2-3k, since you’d only need a 12 kWh battery. Such a vehicle would be a subcompact hatchback with fold-down rear seats, sized similarly to a Mitsubishi iMIEV or Scion IQ, but much more slippery with a Cd value in the upper 0.1X range(think 2005 Mercedes Bionic for what its shape might look like).

          1. “…the Yugo is not at all a bad car. When I spoke with Jason in St. Louis, he confirmed his Yugo was the fastest car in his fleet, and among the most reliable.”

            Oh, I can believe it. Of the ten cars I’ve driven so far in the 24 Hours of Lemons over the years, a Yugo GV has been the quickest, nimblest, and most confidence-inspiring of them all. Admittedly it’s hard to say how much of this is a positive reflection on the Yugo and how much of this is a perhaps less than fully positive reflection on, respectively, my automotive choices and Jason’s.

            Then again, maybe it’s not that hard to say.

            1. If I had been of car buying age back then, I’d have bought one. People who actually maintained their Yugos got reasonable service out of them, the ones that weren’t maintained died early deaths, and most of them fell into the latter category.

              There were a huge number scrapped in the ’80s and ’90s after suffering catastrophic engine failures around 40,000 miles, because the timing belt had a 40,000 mile replacement interval and people just didn’t do it.

              1. cheap cars get cheap owners, maintenance was not a big thing with them. Geo Metro’s were similar. and sadly infinitely more reliable than an copy of an older model Italian commuter car made in an eastern block country.

            2. The Yugo GV is such a brutally simple car. If cars were guns, it would be a Mosin-Nagant. You could take random garbage and repair it at the side of the road, literally.

          2. “That brief conversation on the subject makes me WANT a Yugo at some point in the future, and a Trabant to go with it.”

            You can forget the Trabant; that’s never going to happen, unless you can find a pretty good Maisto Diecast model. NHTSA and the EPA have banned all Trabants from US roadways and ordered them destroyed on sight. I remember Car and Driver being ordered to get rid of the Trabant 601 wagon they imported for testing in 1990.

            You’re better off buying an OKA. It’s a tiny Russian subcompact sold here from 2003. the importer is in Las Vegas, and you can buy it in either EV or kit. the kit can use the engine from the Suzuki Swift/Chevy-Geo Metro/Pontiac Firefly.


            1. That’s not true at all, there’s no federal restriction on importing and registering a Trabant, they’re all well over 25 years old and totally exempt from all federal safety and emissions standards. You may wind up with state to state issues, not sure how friendly California and states that follow California’s standards would be, but, check local rules. There’s quite a few of them in the US by now.

            2. I know two people who own Trabis, one in Brooklyn and one in Connecticut. 25-year rule. What’s weird is that nearly every Trabi I know of in the US has an older chassis number on a newer body, which seems like a dumb way to add risk to something which would already be legal anyhow.

    2. “The Chinese makers have been buying up old European brand trademarks to ease the current push into Europe.”

      Personally, I’m looking forward to buying a Chinese-made Duesenberg EV micro-car.

  5. I think Chinese brands will test the proposition, widely held by other automakers, that Americans don’t want basic, cheap cars. To me, it will be fascinating to see how true that really is.

    My personal opinion is that the quality downside won’t be worth it, and the risk of surveillance or user data being shared with the CCP is high enough that I’d never have any interest no matter how cheap the cars are. I think there definitely will be a subset of consumers who shop on price alone who will say damn the consequences and give the Chinese companies a foothold here.

    If the ICE bans really do come to pass in the near future, I fear the only saving grace for lower income consumers may be cheap garbage from China, which would be quite sad indeed.

    1. Its not that we don’t want cheap, basic cars, it’s that those cars carry very slim profit margins, so established automakers have no reason to sell them. It just undercuts their own, more profitable products. Customers either just suck it up and take out a bigger loan, or buy something used

    2. The risk of surveillance is pretty much a given with all new cars from any manufacturer. The U.S. federal government mandated the black boxes and GPS tracking that make this surveillance possible for virtually all 2015MY and later cars sold in the U.S., calling the technology “Mandatory Event Data Recorders”.

      1. Surely the difference between surveillance by our government and/or big companies, as distasteful as it may be, and surveillance by the CCP is meaningful to you?

        1. As someone whose girlfriend has been harassed by the corrupt local police in a hick small town, I’d rather be surveilled by the CCP who can’t do anything to me than any level of my own government.

        2. Non-consensual surveillance is still non-consensual surveillance. Whether a private company, the US government, or the Chinese government, or any other government/institution is doing it makes zero difference when it allows them to monitor and/or control aspects of your life without your permission. Because when they do so, it is not being done for your benefit, but for their own.

          All the more reason that I will be owning 20th century automobiles from now on. I’m not against technology per se, I’m against technology being used to control, extract money/time from, or manipulate people. I’m all for EVs, for instance, but I’m against proprietary, sealed-off systems that can’t be serviced without special proprietary OEM tools.

          1. Not to mention that the Federal government famously has many different IT networks of various ages in different departments. The government is made up of people, and people notoriously default to ‘easy’ when it comes to security. Not going to freak out over things I can’t control, but also not looking give them more data.

  6. Make sure you store the phone numbers for your extraction team and your wet works team on separate, easily identifiable burner phones.

    If you mix them up you have to make a bunch more extremely awkward calls.

    The main thing holding back China from the US is that they haven’t finished clearing out the low hanging fruit elsewhere. If you’re already at or near capacity, why deal with tariffs and US regulations for less profit than what you can get selling that product in Europe? As they scale up, they’ll be here.

  7. I’m seriously considering a Polestar 2 for my next lease. The Denver store is bringing one to my house on Sunday for a test drive (If you’re near one of their locations, they do that for the low, low price of free).

    OK, Patrick, I’m gonna be “that guy”: “Warren Buffett’s been pairing his stake back a bit in recent months,”
    “Pairing back”? Really? Is there an editor in the house? :-/

      1. From what we’ve been learning about his dietary habits, I’m surprised he doesn’t have immunity to e-coli, salmonella etc.

        I’m betting it wasn’t food poisoning. Probably more like 26 Oz Flu.

  8. If the price is right people will buy them. Make it decent perceived quality with a long warranty, have mobile service teams like Tesla to alleviate concerns about limited service centers, and make the common service parts common and accessible to DIY’ers. Things like filters, brake components (salt is a terror on even coated rotors), and touch-up paint. Basically make a decent, affordable product and support it. Unlike what the Western automakers are doing with ever more expensive EV’s.

  9. I’ve got a 2004 EV Global Motors Mini-E-Bike (the compact version with the folding frame [intentionally folding, that is]) which I use mostly as a pit bike. It works great even though its 24 V, 8 Ah lead-acid battery tends to limits its effectiveness when it comes to longer distances and/or noticeable topography. I understand the technology has improved over the course of the last couple of decades. Still, the company was Lee Iacocca’s last vehicular venture, so, you know, provenance.

  10. Man, I’d ride the snot out of an ebike. I might not even have to dismount and walk up the steep hill between me and the big park. Parking downtown sucks, and biking there is the way to go during the day, hands down. I just either need a lot more money or ebikes need to be way, way less expensive.

    1. Build one. You’ll save a lot of money and come out with a better product.

      I’d recommend finding a used full-suspension mountain bike for sale on craigslist or offerup that was built with quality components and 1st-world labor. Then I’d source some quality components, mainly motor and controller, new, and look for a decent used battery pack with a built-in BMS.

      Sites like endless-sphere.com and ebikes.ca can offer you a lot of good info to get started.

      All in, you could get a decent ebike built to street legal spec with a 30-50 mile range when ridden hard for well under $1,000, including the cost of the bike, if you’re careful what you buy.

      1. Of you want good range, the battery will cost you around $400. I converter my old hard tail into an E-Bike for about $900. 750W torque sensing motor kit + battery & charger + an offset chainring to get the chain line centered. It all adds up. You can probably save a few bucks on a crappier motor, etc, but it will not make for a good experience. The worst bikes are the ones with rear hub motors and rear rack mounted batteries. It throws the weight distribution way off.

        1. This. It’s probably most cost effective to just buy a nice used one. A full suspension mountain bike (unless clapped or of the Walmart variety) is at LEAST 1k in the current market. Rear hub motor defeats the purpose of the full suspension. And having safe weight distribution on a bike is very important (for the average person). Plus anything you can build but can’t buy should be a registered vehicle.

          You will also not come out with something “better,” except for maybe better for your specific use case if you have a weird one.

          If you were to convert something you’d want abig-tubed mtb frame to deal with the torque and a 250w (or “250 wink wink” watt) middrive. You don’t have to worry about chains and such too much @ only 250w unless you are putting down some legit power.

        2. You can also get good range through aerodynamic drag reduction. I get a 150-200 mile range at 30-35 mph on a used 1.5 kWh 46.8V battery I purchased for $200. But my rig is not your typical ebike, and uses about 1/3 the energy than is typical for ebikes for the operating conditions.


          You’ll need to go to a recumbent streamliner or a trike to do this sort of aerodynamic work, which will be a greatly more challenging platform to find on a limited budget and could many times over offset the cost of quality ebike parts/more battery. It would cost just a bit over $3k to replicate mine for everything, if you do all the work yourself.

          Mine also has a rear hub motor, and I absolutely love it. I don’t have to worry about it eating chains, I don’t need to regularly grease any bearings, I don’t have to worry about spacers to make sure the chainline and sprockets are aligned, I don’t have to wipe an expensive ebike-suitable chain down every day(because I can use the cheapest basic $15 7-speed KMC chains instead), and it’s dirt simple to keep operational. Plus this motor has thin laminations and according to ebike builders I’ve spoken with can soak up 10 kW peak for minutes at a time without overheating if you add some ferrofluid and a hubsink, albeit so far the most I’ve run mine at is 3 kW.

  11. Given that we are living in a world where there is seemingly 30 new EV brands announced every week (brands which the world really, really, desperately need. /s) , the Chinese are going to face a noisy marketplace.

    China is already a huge supplier of automotive components to major established manufacturers globally. They also have all those joint ventures with these manufacturers in China. I’m surprised they haven’t started much like some of the Japanese and Korean companies by supplying rebadged captive import versions of their cars to the big western manufacturers looking to jump in the game quicker than their own R&D can get it done.

    For instance Stiletto already has more brands that cars. Probably even more than the volume of cars the sell. They are not really at the head of the pack with EVs. It would make sense for them to rebadge a Chinese car as say a Colt to get their toe in the water. They have the sales channel and brand recognition and whatever Chinese partner they work with can get to market without having to build all of that on day one, and they will get experience with the expectations of the market for when the time comes to do it themselves.

  12. I’m not sure about the when but if any Chinese brand wants to compete here I think they need to really aim for the absolute bottom of the market. Like certified pre-owned car tier.

    Back when GAC would always show up to the Detroit auto show, the fit and finish of everything they brought was very much less than good. However it was still good enough to where I bet they’d sell to people who really want a new car and don’t really care what it is as long as it’s brand new.

    1. I still have a couple of souvenirs from Chinese companies at NAIAS…a sweet little model of a Trumpchi and possibly the most beautiful USB drive ever made

      But the cars were as you said, utter shite

    2. That will only work if they pull a Hyundai 10 year 100,000 mile warranty thing. the Yugo failed pretty quick once they started failing on the road outside of the 1 year warranty.

  13. Make sure you store the phone numbers for your extraction team and your wet works team on separate, easily identifiable burner phones.

    If you mix them up you have to make a bunch more extremely awkward calls.

    The main thing holding back China from the US is that they haven’t finished clearing out the low hanging fruit elsewhere. If you’re already at or near capacity, why deal with tariffs and US regulations for less profit than what you can get selling that product in Europe? As they scale up, they’ll be here.

  14. Anyone know how to get things out of “awaiting moderation”?

    I’d just ignored it when it happened in the past, but don’t think they ever were moderated.

  15. Anyone paying a modicum of attention knows that buying Chinese products = supporting the genocide of the Uyghur population and strengthening the death grip of a tyrannical klepto-Communist regime.

    Given the choice of a Chinese car vs. any other option including a rust bucket ’92 Festiva, you’ll find me pedaling the rusty hooptie. And yes I’m well aware that my cell phone or toaster was probably made there; that’s become unavoidable. I can avoid gifting $40,000 to a Communist company, there’s an ocean of alternatives.

    1. You need to be vigilant if this is your end goal. GE Appliances, Volvo, AMC Theaters, Motorola Mobility, Lenovo, a number of Ritz, Fairmont, and Four Seasons resorts, Snapchat, Spotify, Hoover, Dirt Devil, Ryobi, Milwaukee Tools, Club Med, and Smithfield Foods among many others who have Chinese parents.

        1. Ah, I should have noted that Tencent is a major shareholder vs. owner. Good catch. I didn’t list the brands that are not generally found outside the U.S. but the others are generally well-known to be Chinese owned.

      1. If you don’t buy connected devices and install their app you’re probably safe from the CCP data mining your phone and personal information. If your phone is manufactured there to start with you might as well load up on the apps.

  16. “Now, they’re being used as a convenient micro-mobility transportation option for those who don’t want the inconveniences and costs that come with a car.”

    The problem is that ultimately, ebikes remain a ‘luxury’ item as we careen headlong into a recession caused by corporate profiteering. (It’s not fucking inflation!) And what’s the first thing people cut spending on? Luxury items. When you have 1 in 5 Americans reliant on government aid to eat or to have any sort of heating in the good years and that number is skyrocketing as companies – you guessed it – demand we make them more profitable.
    The costs of natural gas production and delivery have not changed, period. Their employees are not making more money. Yet somehow they are shattering 2008 levels and keep climbing. Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil posts record quarter after record quarter – $20B in profit.

    “How, and when, do you think Chinese brands will catch on in America? Would you buy one? People certainly don’t think of Polestar that way and those cars have been remarkably well-received so far.”

    This right here is one of the prime reasons I am going to hammer every writer and every editor with a literal hammer until it gets through: cars have always been political and always will be. You cannot divorce cars from politics. And that goes triple here.
    Go drive by an auto manufacturing plant, observe the ‘(manufacturer) PARKING ONLY, violators towed’ lot signs and how the ‘IMPORT PARKING’ lot is a mile away. Recall – if you’re old enough to – the ‘rah-rah only buy AMERICAN or you’re a dirty commie for buying a Honda’ style campaigns.
    The only reason Polestar is ‘okay’ is because it’s Volvo and Volvo is European. 99% of Americans have no damn clue it’s owned by Geely. Chinese companies have gone out of their way to hide themselves when selling to Americans, and American companies have done their damndest to not mention to consumers that their CUV was built in China. Because those things would be an instant death-knell for sales.
    Especially with anti-China and anti-Asian sentiment at record highs by every measure. If they weren’t so fucking stupid that they can’t even understand basic business structures, the qultists would be screaming from the rooftops that Volvos upload your brainwaves to the CCP to infect you with the woke mind virus and are full of bioengineered diseases.
    Openly stating the manufacturer is Chinese? Neoliberals would be at best extremely hesitant, dealerships would need 24×7 armed security and bulletproof glass, and congress would be “debating” banning all Chinese cars from the roads. Doesn’t matter if the car’s good, bad, or middling. All that matters is that it’s Chinese, and China is bad.

    1. I’m hoping that as 3D printing technology improves, production of cars can be democratized and decoupled from the reigning political paradigms of the day. Politics is a big reason why battery electric cars were only recently adopted a few years ago, when the technology started getting “good enough” in the 1990s for niche acceptance, even if only marginally so. Like or hate Musk and his cultists, Tesla is probably the reason we have EVs available at all, as without Tesla, the other manufacturers wouldn’t have had any incentive to produce their own EVs. They could have beaten Tesla to the punch more than a decade before Tesla sold its first cars. Small makers like Solectria and AC Propulsion had demonstrated 100+ mile range prototypes in the mid 1990s that would have been affordable in mass production, and the major manufacturers simply weren’t interested in taking those designs, refining them into something sellable, and producing them for the public to buy. In fact, they were actively hostile to the very idea.

      Decades ago, there were lots of politics afoot whose purpose was in keeping EVs unavailable to the general public from the auto industry, oil industry, and government, and were well documented in the film “Who Killed the Electric Car” as well as books like “Taken for a Ride” by Jack Doyle.

      In the 1990s and early 2000s, the OEM automakers attempted to suppress information on battery technology, made misleading and dishonest statements about the existing and future market for EVs along with refusing to lease or sell them to customers, spent millions of dollars lobbying politicians in an effort to press their agenda, their lobbyists printed ads in opposition to EVs, and after eventual success in lobbying to repeal California’s ZEV mandate the auto industry confiscated and crushed perfectly functioning vehicles, rejecting any offers by consumers to buy them no matter how much money the prospective buyer offered even after being willing to sign a liability waiver.

      In that same time period, the oil industry made blatantly false advertisements and statements about EVs and their technology, spent millions lobbying politicians in an effort to press their agenda, began setting up organizations intended to stall or prevent the adoption of battery electric vehicles in California and elsewhere, conspired to prevent utility companies from setting up EV charging infrastructure, and have even bought out battery patents in an effort to keep them from being used in motor vehicles(the NiMH battery being a key example, as this happened before lithium chemistries took off).

      The federal government catered to the auto industry when the U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief supporting GM, DaimlerChrysler and others in their federal lawsuit against California’s ZEV mandate, infringing upon the state’s rights guaranteed within the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Further, the Bush Administration also was in support of the auto industry’s lawsuit, with Chief of Staff and former chief General Motors lobbyist Andrew Card acting as a plaintiff in the case. It is no coincidence that this occurred, considering that George W. Bush received over $1.3 million from the Auto Industry in campaign funds for the 2000 election. Dick Cheney made his intentions for energy policy quite clear when he stated, “Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.” The production EVs that were available in Europe in the late 1990s and early 2000s, such as the Pugeot 101 Electric, or Citreon Saxo Electric or the Renault electric pickup, were kept out of the U.S.

      20+ years later, now EVs are virtually mandated. Government is funny like that… I’m definitely not a fan.

      That said, I’m very much against banning of ICE cars. I’m all for people having a choice in what they want to drive, without government intervention. Regulations surrounding automobile production have been to the point of absurdity long before I was born, and have gotten much worse since.

      It’s nigh impossible today to tell apart the auto industry from government because they are so intertwined. It is largely for this reason that we have a dearth of affordable niche vehicles, and you can have anything you want, as long as it’s an over-stylized, over-sized, over-priced, tech-laden, complicated, unrepairable, cybaroque monstrosity of a mall-crawler in whatever shade of grey, white, or black you like, just sign on the dotted line and make payments for the next 84 months, and be ready to replace it when something fails just outside of warrantee that costs more to fix at the dealership than the car is worth.

      1. Which is hilariously ironic, because Henry Ford was an absolutely legendary anti-Semite and racist, avowed supporter of Hitler, and received multiple awards from Nazi Germany.

  17. If the Chinese can get a basic sub $15k EV with at least 150 miles real-world range into this country, and offer a decent warrantee, they will see significant sales. Even at that price point, getting it to do 0-60 mph in well under 6 second would be possible.

  18. On the subject of ebikes, I think it is ludicrous that ebikes are restricted in operating speed in a plurality of US states to 1 horsepower and 28 mph, while cars whose laden weight is 15-20x as much or more are able to be operated on public roads when they can reach roughly twice the highest legal speed limit anywhere in the U.S. and have horsepower levels that would have been considered absurdly dangerous 50 years ago.

    My custom build ebike/microcar, once it is upgraded to top out around 110 mph, at top speed will have the same embodied kinetic energy as a new Hummer EV travelling 20 mph. Yet when operating in many states, I will be forced to limit the electric assist to 28 mph for supposed “public safety” reasons, even though I will be well capable of turning the motor off and reaching over 40 mph simply pedaling it. Funny how that is.

    1. I’ve seen how some people ride like idiots on these e-bikes. I’m all for the power and speed restrictions.

      If you want an unrestricted bike, get a proper electric motorcycle.

      1. They ride like idiots in their cars/trucks/SUVs just the same, often cell phone in hand, texting. And they have a much greater capacity to cause harm to other people than someone on an ebike.

  19. I think Chinese cars will catch on if they aren’t blatantly “Chinese”, like Polestar comes off as a European brand. Or the Buick and Cadillacs we got that were built in China.

    If the brand isn’t “Wuling” or “Changan” or “Great Wall Motor”, most folks probably won’t notice. Heck GM doesn’t even realize Tesla is American.

    Course I could be wrong looking at all the different makes of electronics on Amazon that sell, the names change but the quality is the same, maybe even with knowing it’s Chinese people will be all “$15k new car, sold!”. After all, over 12,000 people bought a Mitsubishi Mirage this year.

Leave a Reply