Feature: Chinese automakers expand presence at Stockholm's eCarExpo

(Xinhua) 13:50, February 04, 2024

STOCKHOLM, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- The eCarExpo 2024 opened here on Friday, with a strong presence of Chinese electric cars.

MG Cyberster, a sporty roadster manufactured by Shanghai-based SAIC had its Swedish premiere here and was a crowd-pleaser with many of the visitors admiring its "scissor" doors.

The brand has grown steadily in the Swedish market since the first model was launched here in 2021, MG Sweden's PR manager Emma Harnstrom told Xinhua.

"It was only days ago that we sold our 20,000th car in Sweden," Harnstrom said.

Xpeng, Zeekr, and the brand previously known as Ora in Europe but now trading under the GWM brand were also among the brands present.

"We have now sold close to 1,000 cars in Sweden since we entered the market in November 2022," Martin Jonsson, service manager at GWM Sweden told Xinhua.


The fact that most Swedes recently have not known of the GWM brand's existence does not mean that buyers are skeptical.

Part of the reason is that the guarantee is five years with unlimited mileage, while the battery pack is under an eight-year or 160,000-kilometer guarantee.

"Of the cars, 95 percent are also on a leasing contract, so customers have no reason to worry," Jonsson said, adding that the younger generation is more keen on trying new brands.

One of the visitors at eCarExpo told Xinhua that this is true, judging by the purchase patterns of his sons, aged 19 and 21.

"I believe that they are more willing to try new brands and technologies, just look at what happened when South Korean Samsung and Chinese Huawei launched their phones -- they became a hit among the younger consumers," Christer Blomquist told Xinhua.

Mattias Bergman, CEO of Mobility Sweden, a trade association whose members account for around 97 percent of all sales of cars, trucks, and buses in Sweden, confirms this picture.

"Back in the day when people bought cars with combustion engines, buyers were very loyal to 'their' brand. The same loyalty does not exist in the same way in the younger generation, and young people embrace what's new," Bergman told Xinhua.

"The automotive industry is global and what becomes successful in China will eventually come to Sweden. Today there are around a dozen Chinese brands," Bergman told Xinhua.


Time will tell whether one of the Chinese models on show will become as successful as BYD ATTO 3, which in July last year became the second-most registered model across all categories in Sweden with 721 registrations, according to Hedin Mobility Group, a reseller of BYD vehicles.

In the same month, it was also the most registered BEV model, as one in nine battery electric vehicles (BEVs) sold in Sweden was an ATTO 3.

The chase to catch up with BYD is on, especially since the Shenzhen-based carmaker recently said that they would step up their game, despite increasing exports.

To further advance their European sales, BYD said in December that they will become the first Chinese carmaker to build a manufacturing and production center in Europe.

The factory, which will be situated in Hungary, will have an advanced production line and "is expected to create thousands of local jobs, boost the local economy, and support local supply chains," BYD said in a press release.


That so many producers showcase their electric vehicles in a relatively small market for the automotive business -- Sweden only has some 10.4 million inhabitants -- has an explanation that many may see as surprising.

With 39 percent of the around 290,000 cars sold in Sweden in 2023 being BEVs, Sweden is placed seventh globally when it came to the number of newly registered BEVs, trade association Mobility Sweden said in January.

BEVs accounted for 14.6 percent of the total number of car registrations in the European Union in 2023, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

Last year, the share of newly registered cars in Sweden running solely on combustion engines was down to 40 percent, as 21 percent of cars registered in Sweden last year were plug-in hybrids, according to Mobility Sweden.

Having noticed the declining popularity of combustion engines and anticipating a policy shift such as the EU's ban on new fossil fuel cars, carmakers have started to adapt to the new environment.

Volvo Cars, which was acquired by Chinese automaker Geely in 2010, said in 2021 that its goal is to exclusively focus on manufacturing entirely electric cars by 2030.

Last year, some 16,000 visitors came to the Stockholm expo and organizers expect more for this year's show that will end on Sunday.

The organizers have been trying to keep up with the booming interest for BEVs since their first car show in 2016. The eCarExpo has expanded to the Swedish city of Gothenburg, the Danish capital of Copenhagen and the Estonian capital of Tallinn.

It will make its debut in the Norwegian capital of Oslo this year and in Finland's capital of Helsinki next year.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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