China has become the world’s largest exporter of cars, overtaking Japan in the first quarter of 2023.

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, China’s automobile exports for the January-March period jumped 58% from a year earlier to 1.07 million units. Japan’s vehicle exports stood at 954,185, after edging up 6% compared from a year earlier.

Key Takeaways

  • China overtook Japan as the world’s top auto exporter in the first quarter, driven by rising demand for electric vehicles and increased deliveries to Russia.
  • The shift to EVs has fueled China’s rise as an auto exporting power, with new energy vehicles accounting for roughly 40% of China’s overall auto exports.
  • Tesla’s China arm was the top exporter of new energy vehicles at 90,000 units, followed by SAIC Motor’s passenger vehicle unit and BYD, while Belgium, Australia, and Thailand were the top destinations of Chinese-made new energy vehicles.

One of the main drivers of China’s car exports was the rising demand for electric vehicles (EVs), especially from Europe and Japan. China’s exports of new energy vehicles (NEVs), which include EVs, rose by more than 90% compared to a year earlier.

Tesla’s China arm was the top exporter of new energy vehicles

Tesla’s China arm, SAIC Motor and BYD were among China’s top exporters of NEVs. Tesla has a huge manufacturing plant in Shanghai, which is capable of producing 1.25 million vehicles a year and exports to regions including Japan and Europe.

Another factor that boosted China’s car exports was the increased sales to Russia, which faced trade sanctions from Western countries after its invasion of Ukraine. Chinese carmakers, such as Geely, Chery and Great Wall, saw their market share in Russia jump as rivals such as Volkswagen and Toyota quit the country. Russia became China’s second-largest export destination for cars after Saudi Arabia.

China’s car exports have been growing steadily in recent years, as the country has improved its product quality, brand image and after-sales service. Last year, China overtook Germany to become the world’s second largest car exporter, after exporting 3.2 million vehicles. With its strong performance in the first quarter of 2023, China has now surpassed Japan as the world’s top car exporter and is expected to maintain its lead in the future.

About the author

Zhong Li is a tech journalist who covers the latest developments in artificial intelligence, robotics, and biotechnology. Zhong Li is passionate about exploring the ethical and social implications of emerging technologies.

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