China’s car manufacturers are pushing into the European market – and, in the opinion of industry expert Dudenhöffer, have good opportunities there. He has an urgent recommendation for German manufacturers.
Car expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer sees Chinese manufacturers being years ahead of the German industry giants and is therefore hoping for cooperation between the brands. “I think these collaborations make a lot of sense, because if we don’t do it, we’ll lose a lot of time,” the 72-year-old told the German Press Agency in Beijing. China is ten years ahead of Germany when it comes to autonomous driving and voice control of cars, also because there are no suitable test tracks in this country. “It doesn’t work without the Chinese,” summed up the economist.
The founder of the Center Automotive Research also sees a change in the reputation of Chinese car brands in Europe. “If they have innovations, have good quality, have things that others don’t have, then people will buy them,” explained Dudenhöffer. China’s manufacturers are primarily pushing into Europe with electric cars, which is good for competition and therefore also for German car manufacturers.
Not all brands are likely to stay
At the beginning of October, the EU Commission launched an investigation into Chinese subsidies for electric cars. Brussels sees the aid payments as a market-distorting competitive advantage for China’s producers. Dudenhöffer described the EU Commission’s actions as “the worst thing you can do”. A Chinese counter-reaction, for example through new import tariffs, could damage the German auto industry “two or three times,” he warned.
There is a lot of speculation as to which of the many Chinese brands will survive on the European market. “BYD will stay,” said Dudenhöffer with conviction. He pointed out that smaller brands such as Xpeng, which cooperates with Volkswagen, and Leapmotor, in which Opel parent company Stellantis recently joined, have already entered into alliances. Other brands such as Geely and China’s first private manufacturer Great Wall Motor would need economies of scale. The manufacturers have to choose the right strategy: sell a lot of electric cars with little loss of time because they have cost advantages – “and the others then starve because they can’t keep up with the costs.”
Is Germany losing price competition?
Dudenhöffer does not expect Chinese electric car brands to open production sites in Germany. “I can’t imagine a really modern work at the moment,” he said. Other European countries have better cards. In Germany, for example, energy costs are too high compared to Poland, Hungary and Spain.
Dudenhöffer is certain that price competition with the Chinese will be tough. “The Germans also have to deal with this. We already have it with Tesla.”