Generally there are two types of invasions. One is tough, aggressive and spectacular - the other is quiet and gentle. History teaches us that it is the most successful variant. Europe is currently experiencing a silent invasion by Chinese automakers. Hardly anyone notices it. Because the Asians sneak in on velvet paws.
The list of invaders is long and growing by the week. These include names that no one in Europe has heard of. But legendary, old brands are also coming back. And with them names that we know from Saab times.
Progressive: Lynk & Co
It is probably one of the most exciting experiments in the auto business! Last week Lynk & Co announced the launch for the European market. The Sino-Swedish label is run by Alain Visser, who was responsible for Saab Germany during the GM era. Lynk & Co could be the future of automobile sales. The progressive sales concept provides for a store instead of a showroom and membership instead of a purchase.
For a flat rate of € 500,00 per month, you become a member, use a Lynk 01 SUV and rent it out to members of the community. The sharing idea reduces your own costs, reduces downtimes and protects the environment. The manufacturer also reserves the right to exchange the SUV for another, more up-to-date model during the contract period.
The car will finally become a mobile device, the Lynk & Co Store a shop where you can drink coffee, meet friends or book the latest flat rate. Lynk & Co is progressively promoting mobility and people, not cars; the approach could work. On the day of the premiere, the online server collapsed and there was enormous interest.
The hardware of Lynk & Co is conceived and designed in Sweden, the components are taken from the Volvo shelf. Production takes place in China - in factories owned by Geely but operated by Volvo. You can already book the Lynk & Co 01, which has been revised for Europe, in Sweden and the Netherlands today. Deliveries will start in April 2021.
MG, the great British cult brand, is coming back to Germany. Once successful with sports cars that then sold better than what was produced in Zuffenhausen. Conventional today, but still under the sign of the legendary octagon.
With Ulrich Mehling, a former Saab Germany managing director will set the course for the brand. MG is now part of SAIC and production takes place in China. There are design and construction offices in England. At times, Chinese kits were assembled on the island.
MG is present in many European countries, the German market is more of a laggard. The vehicles are traditional, big surprises are in vain, the promise of exciting studies has not yet been kept. But the signs point to attack. During the Beijing Auto Show, SAIC announced 100 (!) New models by 2025.
Exciting: Xpeng is coming!
The Chinese Electric car manufacturer starts in Norway, maybe soon in Sweden too. The Xpeng G3 is a Tesla Model Y style SUV, P7 an excitingly drawn sedan that drives against Model S and 3. The ranges are gigantic and the equipment is state-of-the-art.
If the workmanship delivers halfway what the appearance promises, then it will not only be tight for Tesla. Because only the technology is big, but the prices are small. The entry-level model G3 with the smallest battery pack is less than € 22.000, and even the most expensive variant with the longest range is well below Tesla prices.
Dongfeng, BAIC, Seres
They sell in Sweden already cars. Dongfeng (DFSK) and BAIC do it conventionally with SUV models and in the biogas niche. The Sino-American company is brand new and relatively unknown Beings. She is hiding behind Seres Sokon Group with Dongfeng.
Production takes place in a former GM factory in the USA. Instead of heavy Hummer SUVs, all-electric vehicles are now rolling off the production line. It is definitely more sustainable. The market entry in Sweden is imminent. And not just there. The first 200 Seres 3 models have been on their way to Germany by sea freight since October 8th.
The unknown Chinese manufacturer Dorcen will start in Germany this year. The first electric cars are to be sold in November, the importer has a cooperation with the service chain Euromaster announced. Prices and vehicles are unspectacular.
But the appearance of Dorcen out of nowhere shows where we are headed.
The list of Chinese manufacturers in Europe is incomplete. Every week another brand makes its way to Europe and gathers its first experiences somewhere, in some country. The Chinese learn and react, and quickly.
The political will for the electric car and massive subsidies pave the way. In Germany, the environmental bonus will create an artificial market by the end of 2021 that would never have existed without it. For Chinese manufacturers, this feels familiar. In the past few years, the Beijing administration had invested billions in buying aid for electric cars.
In the People's Republic, the market has meanwhile got used to the flow of subsidies. If the money flows, then the sales are also right. When Beijing turns the tap again, it stops. As a result, the administration readjusts after a few months at the national or local level, and the sales figures turn green.
The game is dangerous
For Europe and its auto industry. Because the unvarnished truth is that manufacturers from China can do a lot better. Software, electronics and batteries. At any price, in any desired quality and with a lot of experience. Our corporations, striving for ever cheaper sources of shopping, have brought them there in the last 30 years - as the workbench of the world.
And the Chinese know how customers want their electric car. Lots of equipment, the latest technology with all features, low prices. Just like a smartphone. The German corporations, especially Volkswagen, will have to radically change their policies. Big surcharges are still possible today. Tomorrow, the customer will no longer reach into their pockets for this.
The points where China still has deficits, production and processing, are weeded out ourselves. The world's most modern and efficient factories were built in China with European help.
The matter is now becoming dangerous for us. Because China can deliver and has the right products.
Prices and competition can get ruinous.