GWM says it’s the first to respond to a European Union investigation into Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers as it looks to expand its presence on the continent with local production.
According to a report from Automotive News Europe, GWM has called for “fair and open trade” as the EU conducts its anti-subsidy investigation of Chinese manufacturers.
GWM has reportedly submitted a formal response to the investigation which the automaker’s president, Mu Feng, says makes it the first Chinese manufacturer to do so.
Mr Feng took to social media platform Weibo saying, “We need a fair and open trade environment. We have the confidence to win the competition globally.”
Additionally, the GWM president said the company has big plans for the region.
The Chinese company confirmed earlier this year it was looking at opening a European factory, and has reportedly started the site survey process for a European plant.
Automobilwoche reports GWM is considering several possibilities in Hungary, Germany or Czechia.
The company recently partnered with European dealer giant Emil Frey to distribute vehicles in Europe from its Ora electric brand and Wey premium brand. An upstart in the European market, GWM sold just 3393 vehicles to the end of September.
Paul Gong, head of Asian automotive research for the bank UBS, told The New York Times he predicts Chinese carmakers will capture up to a third of the global automotive market by the end of the decade, with most of that growth coming from the European market.
The EU is worried the influx of affordable Chinese EVs represents a significant threat to European carmakers.
In response, the EU in September launched the aforementioned anti-subsidy investigation.
“Global markets are now flooded with cheaper Chinese electric cars. And their price is kept artificially low by huge state subsidies,” said President of the executive branch of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen.
The probe was reportedly initiated by the European Commission, and not from a specific industry complaint – even though figures like Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares have previously been vocal about the threat posed by Chinese brands.
China has complained about the investigation, reportedly saying the timeframe the EU set for consultations on the inquiry was “very short” and did not conform to the rules of the World Trade Organisation.
Bloomberg reports the probe could take up to nine months and lead to tariffs close to the 27.5 per cent level imposed on Chinese EVs by the US.
Hefty tariffs in the US have kept Chinese brands away from one of the world’s largest new car markets, with only a handful of Chinese-made models offered there – and major players like SAIC Motor, owner of MG, not entering the market.
In contrast, MG is the best-selling Chinese brand in Europe. In the first half of 2023, it outsold brands like Cupra, Mazda and Jeep according to data from JATO Dynamics.