The European boss of the Chinese manufacturer on punitive tariffs – “many points of attack are outdated”.

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Jochen Tüting has been working for the Chinese car manufacturer Chery Automobile for almost ten years
Jochen Tüting has been working for the Chinese car manufacturer Chery Automobile for almost ten years. © Chery / Parliament:

Chery is the largest car seller in China. Now the focus is on EU markets. The head of Europe removes discrimination and talks about strategy and possible punitive tariffs.

Raunheim/Munich – Chinese automakers are targeting European car markets. A debate has erupted in the EU about the threat posed by competition from Asia, and trade-political relations have cooled on this issue.

Brussels is planning even higher punitive tariffs in light of allegations that companies from the People’s Republic are benefiting from illegal subsidies. And Chery Automobile, a major car manufacturer from the Middle Kingdom is now planning to move to Europe. We spoke with the local division’s managing director about the planned offensive plan.

In an exclusive interview, Jochen Tüting tells us what the group’s strategy for EU markets looks like, what trends we can expect and what he thinks about the EU Commission’s investigation.

Chinese manufacturer Chery: It’s not just electric cars – openness to technology is important

Mr. Tüting, Chery plans to launch the market in Germany with the Jaecoo and Omoda brands. Is everything going according to plan?

Jochen Tüting: We chose Spain as our European test market earlier and now we have successfully launched the market. We have now established four national sales organizations, one in the UK, one in Spain of course, one in Italy and one in Poland and the Netherlands. The remaining organizations in Germany, France and Belgium will be added in the next wave.

What does an example strategy look like?

Tüting: We are now on the market in Spain with the first model, the Omoda 5. An electric version will be added to the combustion engine in two months. The first sister model will arrive in June at the latest: the Jaecoo 7 in two combustion engine variants, with a PHEV variant probably in August. We want to have four products available for market launch in Germany, which we are aiming for in August, the whole range from BEVs and PHEVs to combustion engine models. We plan to have a total of three models per brand on the market by the end of 2025, i.e. a portfolio of at least six vehicles.

China’s biggest car exporter: “Combustion engines are part of our future strategy”.

Key word: technological openness. Do you plan to use multiple types of storage for a long time?

Tüting: We have been the largest car supplier from China for over 20 years. The situation in international markets is very different and Europe is at the top when it comes to effective electrification initiatives. To compete in global markets, combustion engines are part of our future strategy.

Electric cars or combustion engines: Which drive technology do you see as more future-proof?

Tüting: I believe that the electric car has now gained so much momentum in the world that it will be one of the leading technologies. If we go a little beyond the passenger car sector, hydrogen technology has very good prospects for the future in trucks and heavy goods transport. And I believe that the topic of electronic fuel may be more important.

How is your company progressing and expanding its sales network?

Tüting: If you set up sales organizations in eight markets at the same time, things will work faster in one market than in another. But we are changing and it was clear early on that Spain would be a test market. Reason: There is a lot of interest from traders. In addition, the end customer is very open to the brand, so it was easy for us to build a strong team on site.

In Germany we are in many discussions with various business groups. Some of them are very, very special. But it remains to be seen whether we will have the right number of traders in July or August or September.

The Chinese manufacturer Chery works “with almost all international suppliers”.

What is it like working with local suppliers?

Tüting: Basically you can say that we work with almost all international sellers. Many of them, Continental being a good example, have large production sites – including ours in direct proximity to the headquarters in Wuhu (China, editor’s note). We continue to work with Bosch and, whether it’s Hella or whoever, we also do business with German suppliers.

How do you assess the EU-level investigation into China’s illegal subsidies to domestic automakers?

Tüting: Of course, we are closely monitoring what is happening and what the political situation is like. Referring to the EU investigation specifically, it concerns battery-electric vehicles. I think we clearly show that we are now starting in Spain with a combustion engine, which is a well-equipped SUV that we offer from 25,900 euros. So the subsidy survey has no role for this car. This basically shows that our supply chain enables us to grow and produce very cheaply. This is due, among other things, to Chery’s more than 80 minority investments in supplier companies. (…) If you look at Chery around the world, we have more than ten global plants where we either have final assembly plants or actual production plants. This means that most potential points of attack about punitive taxes or whatever are out of date.

Tensions between Europe and China? “It is about fair competition and equality.“

Do you think the EU investigation is legitimate?

Tüting: Basically, Chery supports open markets. We expect transparency and fair market conditions, as do our competitors. I believe that China has opened up a lot in recent years, for example in car production. You can see this in the takeover of BMW, for example, who take over parts of their joint venture partners. You see it with VW, you see it with Tesla, who own 100 percent of their company in China and are supported accordingly. In this regard, we are concerned with fair and just market competition.

Mercedes-Benz boss Ola Källenius recently issued a statement on the issue of punitive tariffs with the EU.

Chery’s European boss: “Brand loyalty is greatest in Germany.”

A long time ago the Japanese and 20 years ago the Koreans made great strides in European markets. Do you think Chinese automakers can be as successful in the long run?

Tüting: I think that when the Japanese competitors came to Europe, the market was still very traditional and focused on local producers. This was still the case when the Koreans came. Today I see a greater openness of the brand among the end customers, even we are more conservative in Germany. This means that brand loyalty for established European manufacturers is greater here than in markets without their own manufacturing industry.

German or Chinese electric cars: If the test carried out by a specialist magazine is anything to go by, there is no doubt about the winner.

The interview was conducted by Patrick Freiwah