JATO report: UK electric cars twice the price of China’s, impacting market share

Low angle of extravagance store with cars in a row for sale

According to a survey by global automotive data experts JATO Dynamics, consumers in the UK are currently paying an average price for new electric cars that is more than twice as much as the average price of a new EV in China.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ most recent data indicates that new EV registrations in the UK are flagging, falling from 20% of the market share in October to 15.6% in October. JATO’s report highlights this widening disparity in prices between the UK and China. 

According to the survey, the average retail price of new electric cars available for purchase in China is currently at £27,153, less than half of the average price in Europe (£58,256). The average asking price in the UK is about £62,000, which is even more expensive.

JATO provides evidence to support the idea that China’s EVs are competing not just on price but also on quality and power, while European car makers have been concentrating on pricey premium versions to support their profits, which explains why EVs are so expensive here.

It claims that the 204-hp Elite Trim BYD Seal saloon costs the equivalent of £21,003 in China, with the closest competitor in Europe being the 81-hp Renault Twingo, which retails for about £21,190. When the 308-horsepower version of the Seal eventually arrives in the UK, it is anticipated to retail for about £44,000.

European buyers who wished to purchase the least expensive electric vehicle (EV) in the first half of this year had to pay 92% more than they would have for the least expensive combustion vehicle, according to JATO’s data. Conversely, it claims that Chinese buyers could purchase an electric vehicle for 8% less than the most affordable gasoline-powered model.

The report also shows European car makers how their emphasis on volume over profitability has created space for Chinese competition. In the first half of 2023, the Chinese MG 3 compact electric hatchback was priced on average in Europe at £30,600, according to JATO, while the comparable costs of the VW ID.3 and Renault Megane E-Tech were almost £40,000.

Additionally, the data reveals that just 54 (23%) of the 235 distinct battery-electric vehicles delivered in China were priced at more than £35,000. Meanwhile, out of the 135 EV vehicles available today in Europe, 104 (or 77%) cost more than £35,000. 

Why can China compete in the EV volume business with such effectiveness? Three key variables are identified by JATO: substantial local market consumer incentives and tax breaks; a far cheaper cost of labour in China than in Europe or the US; and an estimated £57 billion in incentives given by state authorities to Chinese EV companies in recent years.


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