Foreign auto brands boost exports as China sales remain weak – data

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Foreign carmakers that have been losing market share to local rivals in China have boosted exports from the world’s largest auto market, accounting for more than a fifth of the country’s total vehicle exports last year, industry data showed.

China is estimated to have overtaken Japan as the world’s largest auto exporter in 2023, thanks largely to the strength of nimble local companies such as Chery, SAIC, Geely and BYD.

But 18 foreign brands, led by Tesla, also exported 910,000 cars from China last year, accounting for 22% of the total 4.1 million units of China car exports, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) showed.

Tesla alone exported 344,000 EVs from its Shanghai plant, its biggest factory worldwide, to Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Ford Motor and General Motors were also among the biggest exporters, with their combined exports rising 21% from 2022.

Legacy foreign brands are now adjusting their China strategy to boost exports.

Ford, for example, exported 69% of its Territory SUV, which was developed specifically for the China market, last year.

South Korea’s Kia Corp more than doubled its China exports last year to send the majority of its China car output outside the country. Japanese and German brands also boosted exports from China.

(Reporting by Zhang Yan and Brenda Goh; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)