Are new Chinese cars too expensive?

€28,990. This is the base price for the new MG4 with 51 kWh batteries, a 170 horsepower engine and the “Standard” finish already very well equipped. Since a Volkswagen ID.3 currently starts at €44,990 in Pro Performance Active trim with 58 kWh batteries and a 204 horsepower engine, or a Renault Mégane E-Tech costs €37,200 with 40 kWh batteries and a much inferior equipment, the price grid of the new Chinese compact is very poor for European brands.

We logically expected an increase at the auto show to drive the point home, since most of the new major Chinese manufacturers finally displayed their new cars there. What did the coup do for the historic brands that have already been clubbed by MG’s positioning? Well, in the end, not so much. To be sure, the new Chinese cars – all electric or at least plug-in hybrids – always show a better price/equipment ratio than manufacturers long established on the old continent. But only marginally. Take, for example, the Byd Atto3, the new electric compact SUV, which retails from €39,990 with 50 kWh batteries. If you choose 60.4 kWh batteries, it starts at €43,690. Admittedly, the standard equipment remains advantageous at this price compared to competitors from European brands, but the price difference with a Skoda Enyaq iV 60 kWh (€44,580), a Volkswagen ID.4 52 kWh net capacity (€43,000) or a Hyundai Ioniq5 of 58 kWh net with a good level of equipment at €46,500 our jaws won’t drop.

Byd Atto3 retails from €39,990, but with small 50 kWh batteries

The Wey Coffee 01, a large plug-in hybrid SUV with 476 horsepower, also offers better value for money than a DS 7 or an Audi Q5 TFSI e with its advanced equipment and more powerful mechanics, with an addition of around €60,000 when the DS 7 starts at almost €70,000 with “only” 360 horsepower. And it also benefits from a beautiful interior finish filled with two-tone leather and a genuine assembly quality. But we are talking about prices really far from the affordable family car. Even the Ora Funky Cat, this cute compact, also marketed by the Great Wall Motors group, doesn’t start at less than €36,000. It will benefit from a better gift at this price than most European competitors, but again, it won’t need to count on a gift price. At €33,990, the Seres 3 SUV on the border between the B and C segments costs less. But then you have to settle for a cheesy design and inferior equipment…

The large Wey Coffee 01 SUV costs €10,000 less than a high-end DS 7. But it still starts at €60,000
The large Wey Coffee 01 SUV costs €10,000 less than a high-end DS 7. But it still starts at €60,000

Expensive high end

These Chinese manufacturers are also investing in the luxury car segment, especially in Byd with the large Han sedan and the large 7-seater Tang SUV, both offered at €72,000. Models significantly cheaper than models from German premium brands (Mercedes EQE etc.) or even Tesla with a similar technical data sheet, benefiting from a beautiful interior finish and top performance. But even here we are still talking about significant amounts. Models like the Next Ora Cat, a large sedan with a fun design, can count on an original approach and a truly surprising interior finish. But they probably won’t be given either.

In short, these famous new Chinese brands play on the price-performance ratio, but refuse to lower their prices too much. Even the Leapmotor T03, a mini city car with a size close to the Dacia Spring, does not fall below €25,000. After the electroshock of the prices of the MG4, the European manufacturers take a little breath as they discover these hordes of Chinese novelties with the positioning not as aggressive as that. Of course, it remains to be seen how French customers will react to these new offerings.

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