Last week the Chinese customs authority published export figures for Chinese cars in the first two months of 2023. Israel was the third largest market with 15,500 vehicles exported, behind Russia 20,100 and Mexico 18,700. Israel has leapfrogged important markets for China like Australia, Chile, Thailand and Saudi Arabia. The top Western European country on the list is France in 11th place.
The 15,500 Chinese vehicles exported to Israel in January and February 2023 represented 8.4% of all China's vehicle exports. Israel imported more vehicles from China in the first two months of 2023 than the entire EU.
The Chinese vehicles were mainly four brands: BYD, SAIC - MG, Geely Geometry, and Chery. 80% of the cars were electric vehicles or plug-ins with the exception of Chery, which exported 2,500 cars to Israel fueled by gasoline.
These figures are exports and not sales, and therefore a large part of these vehicles are still in the stocks of the importers in Israel. Furthermore, the figures do not include Tesla's very significant exports from its factory in Shanghai, which averages over 40,000 vehicles per month. This is an important point because government officials in China sometimes add the electric vehicle giant to the list of Chinese exports, and this significantly increases exports to Europe.
The importance of Israel for the Chinese automobile industry goes far beyond the number of vehicles sold here. For the Chinese, Israel is a developed Western market, which recognizes strict European vehicle regulations and in which Chinese manufacturers compete against well-known car brands from all over the world on an equal basis. Entering such a market is both an important symbolic achievement, and also an arena for undergoing trials in preparation for penetration into Europe, where competitive marketing and pricing tactics can be tested against dominant competitors such as Hyundai, Volkswagen, Tesla and more. But beyond that, recent data reveals that car exports from China to Israel are also becoming commercially significant for some brands.
Take for example sales of GEELY Geometry electric vehicle. In China, Geometry is a brand of secondary importance for the parent company, which owns close to 12 different car brands. According to the data, in 2022 the sales of all Geometry brand models in China totalled 15,710 vehicles, while over 6,800 vehicles were sold in Israel last year. In other words Geometry sales in Israel accounted for almost 45% of the brand's sales in the huge Chinese market.
Unlike the Geometry whose exports are focused on Israel, the BYD group is currently in the midst of a significant global export campaign for its electric vehicle models, especially the ATTO 3. The company currently exports electric vehicles to markets in Asia, Australia and Europe. According to the data of the first quarter of 2023, the company released about 39,000 electric vehicles, of which about 30,000 cars were the ATTO 3 model. Even so Israel is BYD's third largest market with 15% of its exports coming to Israel in the first quarter of 2023.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 10, 2023.
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