European Commission inspectors will scrutinize leading Chinese automakers BYD, Geely, and SAIC, over the next few weeks as part of an ongoing investigation, Reuters reported.

The probe will assess the potential imposition of punitive tariffs aimed at safeguarding European electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers.

The investigation, initiated in October and spanning 13 months, aims to ascertain whether Chinese-made EVs, benefiting from state subsidies, unfairly impact their European counterparts.

This move has heightened tensions between Beijing and the EU, with China branding the investigation protectionist.

EU documents indicate that the inspection involves on-site visits to verify the responses provided by the automakers in question.

The visits, scheduled for this month and February 2024, aim to validate the information provided in the questionnaires.

Verification visits are expected to be completed by 11 April 2024.

Chinese-made vehicles have seen their share of the EU’s EV market rise to 8%, a figure projected to reach 15% by 2025.

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By GlobalData

These vehicles typically retail for 20% less than their EU-manufactured counterparts, prompting concerns about the impact of state subsidies.

BYD, an auto manufacturer that makes batteries in-house, held the second-largest global EV market share with 16.2% in Q1, according to GlobalData.

This latest development follows China’s recent anti-dumping investigation into brandy imported from the EU, perceived as a targeted response to France’s support for the EV probe.

Notable Chinese models exported to Europe include SAIC’s MG and Geely’s Volvo.

As tensions persist between China and the EU, driven by Beijing’s closer ties with Moscow post-Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU seeks to reduce reliance on China for materials and products crucial to its green transition.

In a bid to expand globally amid fierce domestic competition, Chinese EV manufacturers, including BYD, Xpeng, and Nio, are prioritizing sales to Europe.