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China’s car exports are growing rapidly and could overtake Japan by 2023

The number of cars exported from China is increasing rapidly. According to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), the number of vehicles exported in 2022 (including vehicles locally produced in China by foreign-invested companies) rose by 54.4% year-on-year to a record high of 3.111 million units. In the world as a whole, the scale of exports ranks second only to Japan. Of these, exports of new energy vehicles (NEVs = BEVs + PHEVs + FCEVs) increased by 2.2 times to 679,000 units, accounting for 21.8% of the total. 271,000 of these NEVs were exported from Tesla’s Shanghai plant, representing 8.7% of China’s passenger car exports. This represents 38.1% of the Tesla Shanghai plant’s shipments.

In 2023, the expansion trend continues: in the first five months of 2023, exports grew by 81.5% year-on-year to 1,758,000 units. Of these, passenger cars grew by 96.6% y-o-y, commercial vehicles by 30.9% y-o-y and NEVs by 2.6 times y-o-y. For the full year 2023, the export figures are the highest ever recorded and the scale of exports could exceed those of Japan.

There are several new trends in the increase in exports of Chinese-made vehicles: 1) exports are shifting from the traditional focus on developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America to the European market on the strength of NEVs, with exports also expanding in developed countries; 2) export models are expanding from the traditional focus on low-end vehicles to mid- to high-end vehicles; 3) the number of vehicles being exported overseas is increasing; and 4) the number of vehicles being exported is increasing. 3) An increasing number of automobile manufacturers are taking a proactive stance towards overseas expansion, with an increasing number of companies strengthening their export systems for finished vehicles and developing local production systems.