Munich car show shines spotlight on China competition in EV race

MUNICH (Reuters) – European carmakers must prove their ability to compete with new Asian players in the electric age on everything from product and financial strategy to controlling the supply chain, industry analysts and executives said at Munich’s IAA mobility show.

About 41% of exhibitors at this year’s event are headquartered in Asia, with the number of Chinese companies having more than doubled, including players across batteries and EV production such as BYD, CATL and XPeng.

“Europe needs to stop being naive from a macroeconomic point of view in the face of China,” Gilles Le Borgne, Renault’s engineering head, told journalists on Sunday, pointing to the country’s control of the full battery supply chain.

Chinese and German players, including top German carmakers and suppliers and China’s LeapMotors and Horizon Robotics, will also speak at a Chinese EV conference set for Wednesday and Thursday for the first time outside China as part of the IAA.

Competition over price will be a key theme at the conference, with Tesla showcasing its upgraded Model 3 to go on sale in Europe from October at 42,990 euros ($46,400).

Mercedes-Benz will present its CLA compact class and BMW its Neue Klasse, both of which target higher range and efficiency on a halving of production costs.

Volkswagen unveiled a showcar for its CUPRA brand on Sunday and outlined a new design-oriented approach for the company, with chief designers working more closely with its 10 brand CEOs for stronger differentiation.

“What used to be a performance for the German car industry to demonstrate its extremely strong position is now a meeting of equals between progressive players from around the world, especially China,” said Fabian Brandt of consultancy Oliver Wyman.

($1=0.9273 euros)

(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, Gilles Gillaume and Christina Amann; Editing by Friederike Heine and Clarence Fernandez)

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