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China’s Geely Says Ship Attacks Will Delay EV Arrivals in EU

China exported some 1.63 million vehicles to Europe in the first 10 months of this year, but attacks on ships in the Red Sea mean it will now take longer for their EVs to reach EU ports

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group's chairman Li Shufu poses by a map at his office in Hangzhou, July 20, 2021. Geely says its EVs will now have to be carried around the Cape of Good Hope before they get to Europe. Photo: Aly Song, Reuters.


Chinese carmaker Geely issued a warning on Friday that sales of its electric vehicles (EVs) are likely to be hit by delays in the delivery of its cars, due to problems in the Red Sea.

Geely, which is the second largest automaker by sales in China, said most of the shipping firms it uses to export its EVs to Europe plan to to avoid the Suez Canal, which Yemeni militants have been attacking vessels, and sail around South Africa, which is a longer and more expensive route.

If the Red Sea crisis remains unresolved, shipping firms are expected to adjust freight rates and charge higher transport costs, the company added.


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A source in the logistics industry serving carmakers in China, the world’s biggest market for cars, said this rerouting would increase shipping costs five-fold, predicting a shortage of vessels by the second-half of January due to the longer time it takes for them to return to port.

Geely did not name the shipping companies and the industry source declined to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Visitors look at a Geely-made Zeekr 001 electric vehicle at the Auto Shanghai show in April 2021
Visitors look at a Geely-made Zeekr EV at the Auto Shanghai show in April 2021. Photo: Reuters.

China shipped 1.6m EVs to Europe this year

China exported a total of 1.63 million vehicles to Europe in the first 10 months of this year, up 147% from the same period a year ago, according to data from the the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA). It did not give a breakdown for EVs.

Geely’s warning bodes ill for other automakers in China as they seek to increase exports to Europe due to overcapacity and weak demand at home.

Several global shippers have already said they would avoid the Red Sea after the Iran-aligned Houthis, who control much of Yemen, started attacking ships passing through the Bab al-Mandab Strait at the southern end of the waterway in the past few weeks in what they say is a response to Israel’s war in Gaza.


Trains carrying EVs at full capacity

Cui Dongshu, secretary general for the CPCA, said there was no immediate impact from the Houthi attacks on EV exports to Europe as automakers use a rail network, but the industry source said those trains were already running at full capacity.

The source said Tesla, which exports China-made Model 3 vehicles to Europe, and SAIC Motor Corp have secured vessels in Shanghai, but other smaller companies were likely to struggle.

Asked about the potential shipping disruptions, Tesla said it has no relevant information to share. SAIC did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Chrysler-parent Stellantis said it was monitoring the situation in the Red Sea area and would “adopt the most feasible and appropriate way” to deal with it.

Chinese carmakers have enjoyed strong sales in Europe, a trend that has alarmed European regulators and prompted them to investigate the possibility of punitive tariffs to protect European Union automakers.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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