Chinese Electric Vehicle Makers Expand Globally Amidst Trade Barriers

Chinese Electric Vehicle Makers Expand Globally Amidst Trade Barriers

Chinese EV makers like BYD are rapidly expanding into global markets like Brazil and Southeast Asia despite tariffs from the US and EU.

The Rise of Chinese EV Makers

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are transforming the global automotive industry, particularly in developing markets.

As Western countries impose tariffs and trade barriers, Chinese firms like BYD are making significant inroads in Brazil, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and beyond.

China’s Dominance in Global EV Markets

Chinese EV companies dominate many international markets.

According to ABI Research, Chinese automakers held 88% of the EV market in Brazil and 70% in Thailand in Q1.

BYD, China’s largest EV company, led the way with 71% and 45% of sales in these markets, respectively.

Brazil: A Key Market

Brazil’s EV market is booming, with sales up 145% in early 2024.

BYD and Great Wall Motors are leading this growth, leveraging Brazil’s openness to foreign investment.

BYD’s Camaçari complex aims to produce 150,000 vehicles annually, while Great Wall’s factory near São Paulo targets 100,000.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has shown a friendly stance towards China, providing incentives for green technology investments.

This contrasts with the US and EU, which have imposed high tariffs on Chinese EVs.

Expansion in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia, traditionally dominated by Japanese automakers, is witnessing a surge in Chinese EVs due to their cost competitiveness.

Thailand’s EV sales rose by 400% in 2023, with BYD opening a new factory there.

Countries like Malaysia and Vietnam are also experiencing rapid growth in EV adoption.

Challenges and Opportunities in Mexico

With its strategic location and free trade agreement with the US, Mexico is a crucial market for Chinese EV makers.

Reports of BYD and other Chinese firms planning factories in Mexico have alarmed US officials.

Despite potential US penalties, Mexico’s government aims for 50% of new car sales to be electric by 2030.

Australia and Europe: Competitive Battlegrounds

In Australia, BYD is quickly catching up with Tesla, which has held 14% of the market share as of March.

Australia’s lack of tariffs on foreign EVs and the government’s push for affordable EVs have facilitated this growth.

BYD and other Chinese firms are expanding in Europe despite new EU tariffs.

BYD is building a factory in Hungary and planning to release affordable models like the Seagull.

Partnerships between Chinese and European companies, like Stellantis and Leapmotor, are also emerging.

Overcoming Trade Barriers

Western tariffs may slow Chinese EVs’ entry into developed markets but will not stop them.

Chinese manufacturers are establishing production hubs in countries like Mexico and Brazil to bypass trade barriers.

This strategy accelerates their global expansion and challenges legacy automakers.

Bill Russo, CEO of Automobility, notes that tariffs only hasten the global spread of Chinese EVs:

“Tariffs will accelerate their move to the unaligned regions, the emerging markets.”


Chinese EV makers are reshaping the global automotive landscape, particularly in developing markets.

Their ability to produce affordable vehicles and strategic investments in local production facilities enable them to thrive despite Western trade barriers.

As these companies continue to expand, legacy automakers and policymakers must adapt to the shifting dynamics of the global EV market.

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