China dethrones Japan as top global auto exporter

China has reportedly overtaken Japan as the world's largest auto exporter in 2023, the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) says, as BYD, Chery and other domestic automakers made major strides overseas.

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The world's biggest auto market also became the top auto exporter for the first time in 2023, with the CPCA announcing at a press conference that vehicle exports jumped 62% to a record 3.83 million units. Japanese customs data showed passenger car exports at 3.5 million for the first 11 months of the year, excluding second-hand vehicles.

China's total auto exports were estimated to hit 5.26 million units for the whole of last year valued at about $102 billion, while Japan's full-year exports were forecast to be about 4.3 million units, according to the association.

The numbers offer the latest data of global auto export giants that China has now become the export powerhouse, riding largely on the strength of its nimble electric vehicle automakers. BYD overtook Tesla Inc as the world’s top seller of EVs in the fourth quarter, though based mostly on China sales.

The increasing Chinese clout overseas has caused consternation in some governments that are fearful of the repercussions of that trend on their domestic automakers.

In September, the European Commission launched a probe into Chinese-made electric vehicles over subsidies they may have received, which was branded by Beijing as "protectionist". The Biden administration in the United States is discussing raising tariffs on some Chinese goods including EVs, The Wall Street Journal reported last month.

Chinese customs are due to publish trade numbers for December soon.

Tesla, which exported 344 078 China-made electric vehicles, also contributed to the export boom.

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