BMW considers asking for individual China EV import tariff

The German OEM may go down the same route as Tesla to try to win a reduction in duties

BMW considers asking for individual China EV import tariff

Munich-headquartered BMW is mulling whether to request an accelerated review to receive an individually calculated duty rate on the import of BEVs that the firm makes in China and then brings to Europe. It may hope to get relief similar to that which China’s BYD and Geely have already won and US EV maker Tesla is seeking.

BMW’s China business “has co-operated since the beginning of the investigation” in October, the firm says. That puts it on a list of firms that will be subject to an additional 21pc tariff on top of the current 10pc.

That list also includes Chinese firms Dongfeng, which makes the Dacia Spring BEV on behalf of France’s Renault, Volkswagen partners FAW and Xpeng, Stellantis-allied Leapmotor and rumoured future European OEM partner Chery, as well as Aiways, Anhui Jianghuai, Chongqing Changan, Great Wall Motors, Nanjing Golden Dragon Bus Co, Nio and, currently, Tesla.

But China’s BYD and Geely, which owns controlling stakes in Sweden’s Volvo Cars and Polestar, have been awarded lower additional rates of 17.4pc and 20pc respectively, after they were sampled in the European Commission’s anti-subsidy investigation. Tesla is now seeking similar bespoke treatment.

And BMW, which currently manufactures BEVs in Shanghai and also has plans to base some of the production of its future Neue Klasse all-electric range in China, is considering going down the same route. “This topic is still under evaluation,” the firm tells EV inFocus.

“The announcement of the EU Commission has left questions open, and we will evaluate before deciding on next steps,” BMW continues.

But what is not in doubt is the German firm’s attitude to the Commission’s approach. “This decision for additional import duties is the wrong way to go,” its CEO Oliver Zipse bluntly states.

“The European Commission is thus harming European companies and European interests. Protectionism risks starting a spiral: tariffs lead to new tariffs, to isolation rather than cooperation.

“From the BMW Group's point of view, protectionist measures, such as the introduction of import duties, do not contribute to successfully compete on international markets. Free trade remains the BMW Group's guiding principle. Our company is committed to this,” Zipse continues.
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Although it has come under pressure in recent years, BMW retains a material presence in China, both in ICE vehicles and at the premium end of the BEV market. Its China EV sales actually grew by 18pc year-on-year in the first quarter of this year. So the firm is clearly concerned about the potential escalation of any tariff war with China damaging its position there.

While Tesla waits to see if November might bring it a duty lower than 21pc, the firm is already warning of higher prices for its European customers owing to increased tariffs on vehicles imported into Europe form its Giga Shanghai facility. The firm is “anticipating a requirement for us to increase pricing for Model 3 vehicles as of 1 July”, it warns on its European websites.

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