Choice and affordability of Chinese EVs will only benefit UK car buyers – Auto Trader

  • Auto Trader’s commercial director, Ian Plummer, believes Chinese EVs present more of an opportunity than a threat
  • Price gap between ICE cars and EVs is still an issue for consumers in the UK
  • Partnering with established UK dealers will only accelerate growth of Chinese EV manufacturers

Time 9:15 am, June 6, 2024

After a recent visit to China, Auto Trader’s commercial director, Ian Plummer, was impressed by the quality and sheer choice of EV made available by Chinese OEMs.

Joining us on the latest instalment of Car Dealer Live, Plummer stated that any potential tariffs imposed by governments and industry bodies will only reduce the options available for the UK consumers and slow down EV adoption.

When quizzed by host James Batchelor on whether the EU could impose tariffs on Chinese-made vehicles, Plummer said he’d ‘very much loathe to see that happening,’ as he believes the consumer will benefit from having ‘more choice, more affordability, and some fantastic cars to help them on a transition towards electric’.

Currently, Auto Trader’s commercial director feels that there is still a price gap in the UK that is proving the biggest stumbling block towards EV ownership for the masses.

‘The UK buyer is receptive to EVs when they’re priced correctly but we still have a price gap. A typical new EV is still 35% more expensive than its ICE equivalent,’ Plummer said.

‘Recently, they have been reduced, and they are becoming more competitive. Consumers like EVs when they are priced well,’ he added.

Following his visit to China, Plummer told Car Dealer that he witnessed the fact that Chinese manufacturers had already ‘cracked’ range and affordability, two barriers to entry that still cause headaches for EV makers in the UK and further afield.

Price parity between EVs and ICE models is very much alive and well in China, with electric models often proving the more affordable option.

The Chinese OEMs also operate on a much faster product life cycle, able to introduce new battery and in-car technology at much greater speeds.

Plummer feels the combination of speed and scale means Chinese EV manufacturers currently have the upper hand on many legacy OEMs. ‘This combination brings a product which isn’t just cheap or affordable, it’s actually very attractive,’ he said.

The results are beginning to show, as data analysed by Auto Trader reveals that some of the newer players entering the market from China, such as Ora and BYD, are already piquing the interest of buyers.

‘These new players are already getting a 6 to 7% share of the new EV ad views on Auto Trader,’ Plummer revealed.

‘But what they aren’t doing is getting quite the same level of lead generation, which would imply that people are very much curious, but they aren’t necessarily as reassured as they need to be to go further and express that interest in a lead,” he added.

According to Plummer, Chinese EV makers are doing the right thing by partnering with established dealers and retailers bin the UK, benefitting from the local awareness and local contacts offered by them.

‘That level of reassurance is likely to help these new entrant brands grow quite quickly. It should help them do something like what the Korean brands have done in prior times,’ he said.

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