Published in Transportation

Biden blocks bargain Chinese cars

by on01 March 2024

They are cheaper and better, and we can't compete so they are "insecure"

The US President, Joe Biden, is trying to stop cheap and cheerful Chinese smart cars from coming to America. The US government says it is looking into the "security implications" of letting China sell its intelligent cars, claiming that it can collect data about the drivers.

The investigation could lead to new rules stopping China from using fancy technology in electric cars and other connected vehicles to spy on drivers and their details. It has nothing to do with the fact that the Chinese can make the cars cheaper and better and ship them over to the US, where poor people can drive them. The "officials" are suddenly worried that features like driver assistance technology could be used to snoop on Americans.

Of course, if that is true, then there is nothing to stop the US government from using the same technology in US cars to snoop on people in China or its citizens at home.

While the action falls short of banning Chinese imports, Biden said he is taking unheard-of steps to protect Americans' data.

"China is determined to rule the future of the car market, including by using dodgy practices," Biden said in a statement on Thursday. "China's policies could flood our market with their vehicles, posing risks to our national security. I'm not going to let that happen on my watch."

The move is more likely to have been a tit-for-tat reaction to the fact that China has slapped wide-ranging limits on American cars and other foreign vehicles and has nothing to do with any security risk.

High taxes imposed by the Trump administration and carried on by Biden have effectively prevented Chinese car makers from entering the US market. Still, US officials and industry bosses worry that Chinese companies might choose to swallow the extra costs as China relies more on exports. Chinese car makers are looking to make more vehicles abroad, with EV giant BYD announcing plans for its first European plant last year.

Ford boss Jim Farley said his company and others would have trouble competing on EVs with Chinese car makers, who have gone from having no EV market share in Europe two years ago to about 10 per cent.

John Bozzella, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation boss representing major car makers, said proposed US environmental rules could let China get "a stronger grip on America's electric vehicle battery supply chain and eventually our car market."

The European Union, worried about rising imports from China, started a trade investigation last year into Chinese handouts for electric vehicles. The investigation is still going on.

Last modified on 01 March 2024
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