Date: 24.05.2023

China overtakes Japan as the world’s biggest car exporter

The U.S. Department of Commerce has confirmed that China is the world’s largest vehicle market by annual sales and manufacturing output, with 1.07 million vehicles exported in the first quarter of 2023, and domestic production expected to reach 35 million vehicles by 2025.

Demand from Russia helped China overtake Germany in 2022, with 3.2 million vehicles exported, increasing 56.8% year-on-year and electric vehicles increasing by 90% year-on-year. 

Tesla, who have a plant in Shanghai and SAIC – the owner of the MG brand – and BYD, which is backed by veteran US investor Warren Buffett were major exporters.

China’s 1st quarter car exports increased 58% on 2022, with 1.07 million units (and 40% moving through Shanghai port) compared to Japan’s exports of 950,000 vehicles over the same period, which was an increase of 6% on the year and an increase in volume which is effectively taking vast swathes of global RoRo volumes out of the market.

Chinese auto exports continue to grow in the current quarter, with expectations for exports to increase 30% for the full calendar year to 4 million units.

In 2009, China surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s largest market for new vehicles and the Chinese government has helped the domestic EV industry grow by offering purchasing and tax incentives, as well as by developing charging infrastructure to bring electric vehicles into the mainstream.

The shift to electric has fuelled China’s rise as an auto exporting power, with 1st quarter exports of new energy vehicles, which include EVs, soaring 93%, with new energy vehicles accounting for 40% of China’s overall auto exports.

Belgium, Australia and Thailand are top destinations for Chinese EVs, with Russia the primary export destination for all Chinese-made vehicles.

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