The EU’s Battle Against Chinese EV Subsidies

Volvo Cars manufacturing plant in Daqing, China

To protect its automotive industry from the competitive pressures posed by state-subsidized Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), the European Union (EU) launched an unprecedented investigation into government support for these imports writes Geraldine Herbert

The investigation was initiated by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who announced it on September 13, 2023, during her State of the Union address. The probe was prompted by a significant increase in Chinese EV imports, which saw their market share in Europe rise from 1% to 8% in just a few years. By April 2024, preliminary findings confirmed the existence of substantial subsidies, leading the EU to propose imposing provisional tariffs on these imports. On July 4, 2024, the EU officially imposed tariffs ranging from 17.4% to 38.1% on Chinese EVs as a means of leveling the playing field for European carmakers

Here is a detailed timeline of key events following the EU’s investigation into government support for Chinese electric vehicles (EVs).

September 13, 2023
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the launch of an investigation into Chinese EV subsidies during her State of the Union address. She emphasized the need to protect the EU’s automotive industry from unfair competition due to suspected state subsidies that make Chinese EVs significantly cheaper​.

October 4, 2023
The European Commission formally initiated the anti-subsidy investigation. The Commission cited a steep increase in imports of Chinese EVs, which captured an 8% market share in Europe, as the primary reason for the investigation​

December 2023 – March 2024
The European Commission conducted a detailed examination, gathering evidence and evaluating the extent of the subsidies provided by the Chinese government to its EV manufacturers​.

April 1, 2024
The European Commission announced provisional findings from the investigation, indicating that Chinese EV manufacturers were indeed receiving significant subsidies. The Commission proposed provisional tariffs ranging from 17.4% to 38.1% on Chinese EV imports to the EU​.

June 22, 2024
China and the European Commission agreed to start consultations to address the concerns raised by the investigation. This step was aimed at preventing a potential trade war and exploring possible resolutions through diplomatic channels​.

July 4, 2024
Provisional tariffs were officially imposed on Chinese EV imports. These tariffs ranged from 17.4% to 38.1%, in addition to the existing 10% tariff on car imports, bringing the total duties to between 27.4% and 48.1% depending on the level of cooperation from the companies involved​. The provisional tariffs aim to level the playing field for European car makers while ongoing consultations seek to find a long-term solution to the trade tensions.


9th July, 2024

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Motoring Editor and Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK), EuroNews and to RTÉ, Newstalk, TodayFM, BBC Radio and Vigin Media. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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