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How Chinese brands are using EVs to gain foothold in Europe


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June 18, 2020; Nick Gibbs writing for Automotive News reported that the success of the ZS EV, which accounted for 10 percent of the UK’s electric vehicle sales in the first three months of this year, convinced MG to expand the Chinese brand into France, Italy, Norway and the Netherlands.

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A Chinese manufacturer achieved a breakthrough in European sales during the first quarter. MG, the British brand owned by SAIC Motor, captured almost 2 percent of the region’s electric vehicle market with the ZS EV small SUV.

MG’s success came despite selling the ZS EV in just five European markets, led by the UK, where the SUV accounted for 10 percent of the country’s electric vehicle sales in the first quarter, making it the UK’s No. 3-selling battery-powered model behind the Tesla Model 3 and the Nissan Leaf.

In total, EVs represented 39 percent of MG’s 2,300 first-quarter sales, second only to Tesla’s 100 percent, according to data from Berlin-based analyst Matthias Schmidt.

Since MG switched to Chinese ownership in 2005, it had failed to reach a level of success in the UK that would have allowed it to make the long-promised leap into markets in continental Europe. Last year’s launch of the ZS EV, with its competitive range and affordable price tag, changed that.

Now MG is also selling in Norway, the Netherlands, Italy and France.

“If it wasn’t for electric it would be much, much tougher to do that,” MG UK Sales and Marketing Manager Daniel Gregorious told Automotive News Europe.

SAIC isn’t the only Chinese automaker hoping that the country’s know-how in electric propulsion will be the catalyst to persuade skeptical European customers to consider a Chinese car.