Electric cars from China could ‘paralyse’ British roads with urgent warning issued

An electric car charging on the street.

Some drivers are now looking at investing in electric vehicles, but one leading expert has issued a stern warning.

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 31/07/2023

- 16:56

Updated: 02/08/2023

- 16:15

British roads could soon see a massive influx of electric cars manufactured in China, potentially posing security risks.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed that the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles will go ahead at the end of the decade, despite many calling for the Government to roll back the plan.

Some drivers are now looking at investing in electric vehicles in a bid to cut their carbon footprint, although one leading expert has issued a stern warning.

Professor Jim Saker, President of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), has suggested that the rise of electric vehicles from China could lead to “major security issues”.

He warned that some electric cars built in China could be controlled remotely, stressing that they could “paralyse” the country.

A BYD Atto 3 electric car.

BYD vehicle sales have overtaken Tesla this year.


Professor Saker, who is also Director of the Centre for Automotive Management at Loughborough University, said: “The car manufacturer may be in Shanghai and could stop 100,000 to 300,000 cars across Europe thus paralysing a country,” he told the Telegraph.

Tests are in place which would allow regulators to sample vehicles to see if they contain spyware or other issues which could affect the car.

However, Professor Saker said it would not be feasible to test thousands of vehicles to check for any malicious components.

Popular Chinese EV brands include the Warren Buffet-backed BYD, Nio, XPeng, Geely and Ora.

BYD has seen enormous growth in recent years, with data showing the brand outselling EV giant Tesla this year as many look for an affordable option to switch to electric cars.

A number of large electric vehicle brands in China are already launching in the UK, either to the general market or via salary sacrifice schemes.

Even smaller brands like HiPhi and Lynk & Co are developing a foothold in the UK, with companies aiming to offer low cost EVs to drivers looking to switch.

Earlier this month, Carlos Tavares, the CEO of manufacturer Stellantis, described the influx of Chinese electric cars as an “invasion”.

He also highlighted the “brutal scenario” where Chinese manufacturers can offer them at much lower prices, while European brands are required to help develop the EV charging sector.

A report released earlier this year suggested that as many as 25 Chinese brands could enter the UK car market before the end of 2024.

The research, from Auto Trader, suggested that the 2030 sales ban of new internal combustion engine vehicles would be a perfect opportunity for Chinese EV brands to launch in the UK.

Professor Saker continued, saying: “Virtually every country is trying to fight against an overreliance on China, except the UK.

“Indeed, the UK Government only set up its own Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre in July 2022, far too late to have any impact in what should have been a long-term strategy.”

A BYD electric vehicle on display in Farnborough.

BYD is one of China's best selling EV brands.


Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) found that total new car registrations in June 2023 resulted in sales of battery electric vehicles rising by 39.4 per cent compared to last year.

At the same time, new registrations of diesel vehicles continues to fall with a 22 per cent drop year-on-year, with just 6,221 new vehicles last month.

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