The show visits representatives of Chinese automakers to dig into plans to cross the border tariff-free with potentially more affordable, quality EV options.

MotorTrend Group announced the launch of new documentary series, “MotorTrend Investigates,” with the premiere story focusing on the controversial topic of Chinese electric vehicle (EV) production in Mexico and the potential impact of expansion into the U.S. market. MotorTrend visits representatives of major Chinese automakers in Mexico, including BYD, Chery and JAC, to dig deep into their plans to cross the border tariff-free with potentially more affordable, quality EV options.    

The documentary, “China’s Big Bet on Mexico,” is available to view here.

The documentary was filmed on location in Mexico City, led by MotorTrend editors Miguel Cortina and Kristen Lee. The program includes exclusive interviews with executive leadership from Chinese EV manufacturers, as well as key authorities in the automotive space in Mexico. In addition, Cortina and Lee take a spin in a new vehicle from China’s EV offerings, the BYD Yuan Plus, to give quick first impressions on what may lay ahead for American car shoppers. 

“Currently, tariffs and politics make it economically unfavorable for Chinese-built vehicles from Chinese automakers to be imported into the U.S. However, by strategically building EVs in Mexico, certain Chinese companies could enter the U.S. market under more favorable conditions,” said Cortina. “In the past three years, 11 Chinese automakers have settled in Mexico, and their market share of passenger vehicles has already risen from 0% to 9%.”  

To probe deeper as to whether American car shoppers would be willing to buy a Chinese EV, MotorTrend conducted a poll of 2,000 Americans currently in the market to purchase a new vehicle and found that while 50% of potential car shoppers are likely to consider an EV in the next five to 10 years, 45% of those willing to consider such vehicles are unlikely to consider an EV produced by a Chinese manufacturer.

Notably, however, 28% of that same group would be somewhat more likely to reconsider if the quality and safety met U.S. standards, and the purchase price was considerably less than the closest known competitor.

Under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), 75% of a vehicle must be built in North America for its maker to avoid paying import tariffs. Currently there are no Chinese car brands available for purchase in the U.S., and only recently have there been vehicles from China sold in the U.S. under separate brand name manufacturers.

“Based on our research, these Chinese companies are investing heavily in the product, and the result shows based on the BYD Yuan Plus we tested,” said Lee. “The question is whether U.S. consumers are ready---and willing---to purchase EVs from Chinese manufacturers, and whether regulations would allow for vehicles to enter the U.S. market through Mexico.”

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