Despite coming close, China did not surpass Japan as the world’s largest car exporter in 2023, according to recent data. Japanese customs data revealed that Japan exported 5.97 million vehicles last year, surpassing the 5.22 million reported by China’s customs data.
The Ministry of Commerce noted that over 70% of China’s car exports in 2023 were gasoline-powered vehicles, with a significant increase in new energy vehicle exports. Notably, many gasoline-powered cars from China were shipped to Russia, particularly after the country invaded Ukraine in February 2022, resulting in Chinese manufacturers filling the gap left by other auto manufacturers.
Mexico was another major destination for Chinese exports of gasoline-powered cars, while exports to Belgium and the U.K. primarily consisted of new energy vehicles. Chinese-made cars have seen a rapid increase in market share in Mexico, challenging the traditionally protective nature of the country’s auto industry.
The growing share of China-made electric cars in Europe has led the European Union to investigate government subsidies for their production. However, industry experts believe that targeting electric cars may need to be revised, as Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) are considered superior. The surge in China’s electric vehicle market has also led to predictions of potential trade wars, particularly in the case of Chinese car sales to Mexico.
Despite these developments, China’s new energy vehicle market penetration has reached 40% of new passenger car sales, outpacing the U.S., where the penetration is around 7%. Local experts predict that Chinese car makers could increase their share of the domestic auto market to 75% by 2030, potentially impacting European car sales in China.