China has claimed the title of the world’s biggest exporter of cars after surpassing Japan in the first quarter of 2023, according to official data. China shipped 1.07 million vehicles overseas in the January-March period, up 58% from a year earlier, while Japan exported 954,185 units, up 6%.
The surge in China’s car exports was driven by two factors: rising demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and increased sales to Russia. China is a global leader in EV production and innovation, with companies like Tesla, SAIC and BYD among its top exporters of new energy vehicles (NEVs). In the first quarter, China’s NEV exports soared by more than 90% year-on-year.
China also benefited from the trade sanctions imposed by Western countries on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. China’s carmakers, such as Geely, Chery and Great Wall, saw their market share in Russia jump as rivals like Volkswagen and Toyota withdrew from the country. In 2021, China exported 122,826 cars to Russia, making it the largest trading partner of all European countries.
China’s achievement comes after it overtook Germany as the world’s second largest car exporter in 2022. China exported 3.2 million vehicles last year, compared to Germany’s 2.6 million. China’s car industry has been growing rapidly in recent years, thanks to its huge domestic market, low labor costs and government support.
However, China also faces challenges and competition in the global car market. Some analysts warn that China’s EV industry may face a shakeout as prices plunge and supply exceeds demand. Others point out that China still lags behind Japan and Germany in terms of quality, technology and brand recognition. Moreover, China may face trade barriers and political tensions as it expands its presence in overseas markets.
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