The 9th Automotive Alumni Joint Forum in Shanghai, held on December 16th at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, convened industry leaders and academics to dissect the evolving global passenger car market. This year’s focus: the competitiveness and global market entry barriers facing China’s electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers and the new paradigm of global automotive supply chain.

Bo Yu, China Area Manager of JATO Dynamics, delivered one of the keynote addresses on ‘China’s EV exports under re-globalisation’ followed by a roundtable discussion with key industry figures: Mr. Xu Jinquan, Director of the China Europe International Business School Alumni Automotive Industry Association and founder of TIMER Automotive Data Technology, Mr. Hu Guoliang, the CEO of CATL (Shanghai) Intelligent Technology, the former Deputy Director of Shanghai Special Office of The General Administration of Customs of China Professor Xie, Professor Zhao, Director of the Technology and Industry Center of the Institute of Public Policy, South China University of Technology, and Dr. Zhou Ping.

Keynote address by Bo Yu China Area Manager of JATO Dynamics: China’s EV exports under ‘re-globalisation’

In a significant shift driven by electrification, Bo Yu, China Area Manager of JATO Dynamics highlighted the surge of Chinese brands in the global passenger car market (from 9.3% in 2019 to 16.2% in 2023). She noted three key trends fueling this rise: EV-driven exports, expansion beyond emerging markets, and deeper market penetration with local operations. Despite challenges like geopolitics and trade barriers arising from regulation, Ms. Yu emphasised the need for Chinese EVs to leverage their existing advantages, localise operations in target markets, and build regional understanding and insight to constructing the core competence to finally achieve long-term success and solidify their global brand value.

Roundtable: Intelligent manufacturing- transformation and barriers of new energy vehicles entering overseas markets

The Chinese new energy vehicle (NEV) industry is at a pivotal moment. Domestic dominance is no longer enough and global ambitions beckon. The roundtable hosted by Mr. Xu Jinquan brought together key industry stakeholders to explore the motivations, challenges, and potential pathways for China’s EVs to gain a foothold in key international markets.

The discussion yielded several key points, drivers and challenges regarding the globalisation of the Chinese EV manufacturers. Fueled by both domestic market pressures and global electric vehicle ambitions, China’s EVs are gearing up for international expansion. However, data security concerns, evolving partnerships, and digital transformation all emerged as hurdles on the road during the discussion. To overcome these, it was suggested that Chinese EVs must embrace innovation, forge strategic partnerships, and undergo cultural and organisational shifts, paving the way for a competitive future on the world stage.

Mr. Hu Guoliang, drawing on CATL’s experience, argued that many Chinese companies’ overseas ventures are not strategic choices but ‘forced’. To overcome these challenges of high export barriers and product compliance hurdles, CATL adopted the ‘LRS model, which means partnering with local companies and licensing its technology for a fee and royalty. This ‘technology overseas’ approach allows CATL to circumvent restrictions while still gaining a foothold in foreign markets.

Professor Zhao, proposed that while China’s early electrification lead offers an edge, venturing into smart car technology raises data security concerns and potential international resistance. He suggested that instead of full vehicle exports, China’s auto industry should focus on overseas success through individual component commercialisation and  industrial ecologicalization, paving a new path for global expansion.

The forum presented a nuanced picture of China’s EV ambitions. By embracing innovation, forging strategic partnerships, and adapting to diverse market dynamics, Chinese EV’s can electrify not only the global car market, but also the future of mobility.

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