How Europe can avoid becoming the dumping ground for Sino-US cleantech (without becoming protectionist)
(Transport and Environment, 2 May 2023) The story of Polestar tells us a lot about Europe’s weakening grip over the car market.
Polestar is not the world’s biggest or most important carmaker. But its story does epitomise the choice Europe faces. Polestar used to be the performance brand of Swedish carmaker Volvo. Today, just like Volvo itself, it is owned by Geely, a Chinese carmaker. Last year 32,000 all-electric Polestars were shipped from China to Europe. These accounted for 40% of Volvo-Geely’s battery electric vehicle (EV) sales.
Polestar, just like Tesla, Nio and BYD, is a force for good, increasing consumer choice, bringing down EV prices, and forcing legacy carmakers to move further, faster in the transition to zero-emission vehicles. Our goal must not be to protect legacy laggards from competition. But the rise of the new players does throw up some tough questions for Europe.
The all-electric Sino-Swedish carmaker is now expanding its manufacturing base beyond China. From 2024 it will be manufacturing cars in South Carolina (US) serving the “US and European markets”. That makes it one of the first new players to explicitly set up shop in the US to sell EVs to the EU.
Transport and Environment, 2 May 2023: How Europe can avoid becoming the dumping ground for Sino-US cleantech (without becoming protectionist)