Plugging away

Chinese marques try to make inroads into Western markets

Second time lucky?

THE FAILURE of the first serious attempt by China’s carmakers to conquer European markets, around 15 years ago, was self-inflicted. Their cars were terrible. The shabby quality of Brilliance’s “BS” range (no joke) was matched with looks that scarcely merited the word “design”. Since then the Chinese car industry has become the world’s biggest and its products have improved immeasurably. It churns out more electric vehicles (EVs) than any other country, and many are anything but BS. It is also an EV-battery superpower.

EV-friendly Europe is again in China’s sights. Norway, where generous tax breaks mean that four out of five cars sold are fully electric, has served as a bridgehead. Now Chinese firms are launching a wider assault on the continent. In Berlin on October 7th Nio, a Tesla wannabe, showed off three new models. At the Paris motor show, which opens on October 17th, BYD and Great Wall Motors (GWM) will give more details of their plans for Europe.

Rich subsidies have created a vast home market for Chinese EVs, encouraging established firms and startups alike. BYD’s plug-in cars (some are hybrids rather than full EVs) now…