China’s Clean Car Exports Surge as Europe Starts Subsidy Probe

China’s Clean Car Exports Surge as Europe Starts Subsidy Probe

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(Bloomberg) — China’s new-energy passenger car exports more than doubled last month, as the nation’s growing clout in the global auto market comes under pressure from Europe and the US. 

China-based automakers shipped 91,000 clean vehicles abroad in September, including pure-electric and plug-in hybrids, an increase of 107% from a year earlier, data from the Passenger Car Association showed Wednesday. US-based Tesla Inc. ranked top with 30,566 units sent to overseas markets from its Shanghai factory, while delivering 43,507 cars to local customers. 

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Much of the remainder were driven by local automakers such as BYD Co. and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., the data showed. Shipments of cleaner cars accounted for 25.4% of total passenger car exports. 

The European Commission last month announced an investigation into subsidies doled out by China’s government to its electric vehicle industry, saying the support was distorting the market. The move may lead to tariffs close to the 27.5% level already imposed by the US on Chinese EVs, Bloomberg reported last month.  

“We strongly oppose what the European Commission commented on Chinese car exports,” PCA Secretary General Cui Dongshu said Wednesday. The investigation is riddled with “double standards” and a hindrance for the rise of Chinese technologies, which violates the World Trade Organization fairness rules, he added. 

Overall retail sales of new-energy vehicles in China rose 22.1% from a year earlier to 746,000 units in September, the PCA data showed. Despite hitting a record, year-on-year growth is slowing. BYD continued to top the sales, with a record 286,903 vehicles. Total retail sales of passenger vehicles increased 5% from last year to 2.02 million units. 

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Tesla delivered a total of 74,073 China-built cars last month, down 10.9% from a year earlier, and a 12% drop from August. 

The Austin, Texas-based company launched a refreshed version of its Model 3 sedan at the start of last month, with a sleeker exterior design, enhanced interior decorations, and an improved driving range. It also upgraded the Model Y sport utility vehicle earlier this month to lure more customers in the increasingly competitive market.

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