Amidst the unease of Western automakers, German auto suppliers are demonstrating enthusiasm for the European forays of Chinese EV producers. Major German firms are keen on leveraging their established ties in China to supply European parts to these burgeoning manufacturers.
Bosch’s CEO, Stefan Hartung, weighed in at Munich’s IAA mobility show: “Chinese manufacturers will adapt vehicles to the European market step by step through user experience and customer orientation.” Hartung highlighted the mutual history of collaboration, stating, “This is a good way to do it and also quite natural for us as a supplier because we all know these manufacturers from our collaboration in China.” He optimistically added, “We also believe that ultimately this is positive for competition and the consumer.”
For context, Bosch has been pivotal in China’s EV scene, having developed Advanced Driver Assistance Systems for a significant portion of BYD cars, and supplied electric motors to luxury EV producer Human Horizons. Additionally, it supports another major player, Nio.
Recent data showcases the increasing appeal of Europe for Chinese EV giants like BYD, Nio, Xpeng, and Leapmotor. European EV sales surged by approximately 55% in the initial seven months of 2023, constituting about 13% of total car sales.
However, the allure extends beyond mere numbers. According to Jato Dynamics, the average EV in China was priced under 32,000 euros in the early half of 2022, a stark contrast to the 56,000 euros in Europe. This price difference has sparked concerns among European automakers about a potential “invasion” of affordable Chinese EVs.
Yet, supplier companies, such as ZF Friedrichshafen, hold a different perspective. Drawing from its substantial presence in China, ZF sees potential for growth in Europe. Holger Klein, ZF CEO, expressed to Reuters, “We are in discussions there,” pointing towards concrete plans by their Chinese partners to establish plants in Europe.
The recent “Leap Together” event in Munich illuminated the involvement of giants like ZF and Continental, reflecting the widening horizon of Chinese EVs in Europe. Continental’s CEO, Nikolai Setzer, expects a broader global outreach by the Chinese, stating, “We could take on new volumes (from Chinese customers in Europe) without needing to build a new plant.”
As Chinese EVs navigate the European terrain, German suppliers stand ready, seeing it not as a challenge, but an opportunity.