As Chinese automakers begin to beat overseas rivals on their home turf for the first time, analysts at AlixPartners, a global consultancy, expect their international push to net them a 30% global market share by 2030.

Among the biggest Chinese car manufacturers, SAIC and BYD have announced plans to build their first regional facilities in Europe and South America for easier access to booming EV markets through local production. Chinese EVs have already made big in-roads into the reputational market for stylish designs, high-tech features, and low cost.

Established global carmakers, no matter where they are operating, can only maintain their competitive positions by learning from the Chinese industry, Stephen Dyer, a co-leader for AlixPartners’s Greater China business, told reporters on Wednesday in Shanghai. “Those that ignore this future disruptive force do so at their own peril,” he said.

The big picture

AlixPartners sees recent moves by Chinese automakers as a way to further boost sales volumes and reduce risks from volatile exchange rates and potential logistics issues in overseas operations. China overtook Japan as the world’s top vehicle exporter in the first quarter of 2023 and is extending its international presence from under-developed regions to more developed ones such as Europe.

A major threat to western original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) could emerge by 2030 in the shape of Chinese carmakers. AlixPartners expects the latter’s global car sales to grow in market share from 16% in 2022 to 30% in 2030. In Europe, market share could grow from 2% to 15% over the same period, while Latin America and Southeast Asia show even greater potential with Chinese carmakers expected to have an estimated 19% market share in each by 2030, up from just 1% last year.

Dyer said he is convinced that Chinese brands could achieve success in the highly competitive European market, by employing the same “winning formula” they have been crafting at home. “Chinese automakers will have a chance to win favor, especially from younger European buyers, with their in-car technologies,” added Dyer, speaking in Mandarin Chinese (our translation).

Lessons to be learned from China

AlixPartners suggests global automakers may need to rethink their emphasis on traditional vehicle attributes such as durability and handling, adapting fast as Chinese-style competition comes to their markets.

Chinese brands have made a mark by providing feature-rich offerings at affordable prices, responding to local consumers’ preferences for stylish design, engaging interiors, and advanced technologies while accepting “good enough” reliability and performance, said Dyer.

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Nearly 60% of Chinese-brand vehicles sold in 2022 and priced between RMB 80,000 and RMB 120,000 ($11,040-$16,560) were equipped with advanced driver assistance systems, considered a standard feature on higher-end models, compared with only 15% sold by foreign brands, according to AlixPartners’ analysis.

China’s homegrown makers, especially the younger ones, take a less cautious approach to vehicle development with an aggressive appetite for risk, using digital simulations to reduce the amount of physical testing for fast development and delivery to the market. Traditional overseas carmakers normally complete two years of extreme winter and summer testing, while Chinese brands often carry these out simultaneously in different parts of the world, according to Dyer.

Automakers’ latest plans

AlixPartners estimates that Chinese brands will secure a combined 51% share of China’s auto market this year, taking gas-powered vehicles and EVs into the equation, versus 49% by their foreign counterparts. This would mark the first time that Chinese automakers would have overtaken their more established foreign rivals in the market.

Having become leading forces in the world’s biggest EV market, brands such as BYD, SAIC, and Chery are upping their efforts to expand overseas by announcing the establishment of new plants near their local customers. 

SAIC said on Tuesday that it has been searching for a site for the carmaker’s first EV manufacturing facility in Europe in a move the company said would help secure a stable business environment over the long term, Chinese media outlet Caixin reported. Volkswagen’s Chinese partner expects sales to almost double to 200,000 units this year.

On the same day, BYD unveiled its plan to establish a $620.2 million industrial complex in Brazil, which will include three plants for the production of EVs and key components and is scheduled for operation as early as mid-2024. This would be the first production hub outside Asia for the Warren Buffett-backed EV giant. BYD is also reportedly closing a deal to take over a German factory from Ford.

Another giant Chery is mulling several facilities in the UK and Southeast Asia, while GAC and Great Wall Motor have similar plans in Thailand and Vietnam, respectively.

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: or Twitter: @yushan_shen