Cars packed in COSCO containers
Photo: Cosco

Concern that the EU may soon impose tariffs on Chinese vehicle imports has apparently spurred the country to export more new-energy vehicles (NEVs) to Europe, in containers.

The move to use boxes is because there are not enough car-carrier vessels to meet demand.

Japan Maritime Centre recently released statistics showing that in Q1 24, container volumes shipped from China to Europe was up 11% year on year, to more than 3,000,000, and a factor driving the increase is China’s NEV exports.

In contrast, export containers from north-east Asia to Europe declined 8%, to 432,898.

Reuters reports today that next month the European Commission will impose extra tariffs of between 17.4% and 38.1% on Chinese NEVs, depending on the manufacturer, because it says the makers are heavily subsidised by the state. The move follows that by the US, which increased tariffs on Chinese NEVs four-fold, to 100%, last month.

China Passenger Car Association statistics show that in the first four months of 2024, Chinese NEV exports increased 27% year on year to 660,000, the most going to Belgium (88,000), Brazil (85,000) and the UK (51,000).

Meanwhile, Veson Nautical commercial analyst Andrea de Luca told The Loadstar the supply-demand imbalance for car-carriers would not improve till next year.

He added: “China has demonstrated a strong appetite for cars in containers, shipping 25% of its seaborne exports on box ships, rather than ro-ros last year, which is highly unusual and unique to China. Many perceive this to be a more costly and less efficient mode of transportation, but needs must [if China is to reach its export target].”