China’s SAIC Motor seeks European Commission hearing on EV tariffs

BEIJING, (Reuters) – China’s SAIC Motor will request a hearing from the European Commission on the extra duties it faces, the company said on Friday, as the European Union’s provisional tariffs on made-in-China EVs took effect.

“The European Commission overlooked some of the information and counter-arguments submitted by SAIC during the investigation,” the state-owned automaker said in a statement.

SAIC’s request comes a day after the Commission published findings, from its nine-month investigation into China’s EV market, giving insight into the evidence it collected to support Brussels’ largest trade case yet.

The provisional duties of between 17.4% and 37.6% are designed to prevent what the Commission’s president Ursula von der Leyen has described as a threatened flood of cheap EVs built with state subsidies.

The report details reluctance by the Chinese government and SAIC to cooperate with the investigation, justifying slapping SAIC with the highest tariff rate of 37.6%. Fellow Chinese automakers BYD and Geely [RIC:RIC:GEELY.UL] face lower tariffs of 17.4% and 19.9%, respectively. These are on top of the EU’s standard 10% duty on car imports.

There is, however, a four-month window during which the tariffs are provisional and intensive talks are expected to continue between the two sides as Beijing threatens wide-ranging retaliation.

After the announcement of provisional duties in the EU official journal, interested parties such as China and EV makers have until July 18 to comment. They can also request a hearing.

While negotiations continue, automakers are re-evaluating their pricing strategies based on the provisional rates.

“What’s been creating the most anxiety for China EV Inc has been the uncertainty of how their products will be received in these international markets,” said Tu Le, founder of consultancy Sino Auto Insights.

“But it now seems like with the U.S. and EU settled on tariffs and rates, they can now adjust their global strategies to include this new normal.”

A spokesman for SAIC subsidiary MG in France told Reuters the automaker had enough MG4 vehicles in stock “to last until November without increasing prices.”

Reporting by Sarah Wu and Ella Cao; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan