Tesla among brands likely subject to EU subsidy probe to judge fairness of China imports

Credit: Tesla China

Tesla is among several brands that export vehicles from China to Europe that may fall under a new probe to judge the fairness of subsidies that European car buyers receive for driving electric cars.

Tesla has used its Chinese Gigafactory in Shanghai as an export hub for several years, and the production plant has been widely responsible for the automaker’s performance in the European region for several years. While Tesla operates a production facility in Europe, which is located in Brandenburg, Germany, it only builds the Model Y, the company’s crossover.

The Model 3 for the European market is built in Shanghai, has been available for a longer period of time, and has contributed to Tesla’s dominance over domestic companies like Volkswagen and BMW. This vehicle is exported out of China to Europe.

European Union (EU) officials are now questioning whether Tesla is gaining an advantage from building the vehicles in another region and shipping them to European customers. EU executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said on Tuesday that there was “sufficient prima facie evidence” to justify a probe against the automaker and other Chinese companies, including Geely, which owns Volvo.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Dombrovskis said:

“Strictly speaking, it’s not limited only to Chinese brand electrical vehicles, it can be also other producers’ vehicles if they are receiving production-side subsidies.”

He continued by stating the EU was “open to competition,” but the competition needed to be fair. He mentioned that other large markets had already introduced tariffs on batteries on EVs from China and that the EU is “probably” the biggest open market for these Chinese companies.

Chinese officials are obviously not in favor of the anti-subsidy probe, as the country’s commerce minister Wang Wentao argued the dominance China has seen in the EV space is due to years of R&D innovation, free competition, and a “complete industry system,” the report states.

The ministry said on Tuesday:

“Wang Wentao expressed serious concern and strong dissatisfaction that the EU would initiate an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese electric vehicles.”

The Chinese commerce ministry accused the EU of “protectionism” that would have more macroeconomic effects, like environmental cooperation between regions and the stability of global automotive supply chains.

Roughly one-fifth of all EVs sold in Europe are built in China.

I’d love to hear from you! If you have any comments, concerns, or questions, please email me at joey@teslarati.com. You can also reach me on Twitter @KlenderJoey, or if you have news tips, you can email us at tips@teslarati.com.

Joey Klender: Joey has been a journalist covering electric mobility at TESLARATI since August 2019. In his time at TESLARATI, Joey has broken several big stories, including the first images of the Tesla Model S Plaid, the imminent release of the 4680 Model Y through EPA certification, and several expansions to the Lucid AMP-1 factory in Arizona, to name a few. His stories have been featured in several publications, including Yahoo! Finance, Fox News, CNET, and Seeking Alpha. In his spare time, Joey is playing golf, watching MMA, or cheering on any of his favorite sports teams, including the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, Miami Heat, Washington Capitals, and Penn State Nittany Lions. You can get in touch with joey at joey@teslarati.com. He is also on Twitter @KlenderJoey.
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