Even before the European Union targeted imports of cheap Chinese electric vehicles, China's automakers faced another big challenge: winning over consumers who don't know or necessarily trust their brands.
At the heart of their strategy is the traditional dealership model that European automakers have been exiting in favor of direct sales.
"European consumers have no inkling of Chinese brands," said Daniel Kirchert, the head of e-mobility consultancy Noyo and former BMW executive who co-founded the now defunct Chinese EV maker Byton. "It's a huge challenge for Chinese carmakers to make clear to Europeans that their cars are on par with Tesla, at a better price."
So far, BYD, Nio, Lynk & CO, Xpeng and China's other homegrown EV makers have barely made a dent. Their share of pure-electric and hybrid cars sold in Europe has risen to 5.6 percent over the past few years. The bulk of those deliveries have come from MG Motor, a brand more associated with its British roots than its Chinese ownership.