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New Study Finds that Chinese Buyers Prefer European over Local Brands

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Car buyers’ preferences in China are shifting towards European models and away from domestic and even Japanese vehicles, according to a new study published today by JD Power Asia Pacific. This is the third year that the study takes place.

The latest edition included 65 brands and 161 separate models in nine segments and is based on responses from 4,979 potential buyers of new-vehicles located in 53 cities.

JD Power said it examined pre-purchase perceptions amongst Chinese consumers who intend to buy a new car in the next 12 months. The results show that the percentage of potential new car buyers considering a model by a European carmaker has increased substantially, from 25% in 2009 to 32% in 2001.

The reasons cited are positive perceptions of safety and engine and transmission technology, as well as strong recommendations from friends and family for European cars.

On the other hand, consideration for models by Japanese carmakers has followed the opposite direction, dropping from 32% in 2009 to 27% this year. New car buyers said that they don’t have the same confidence in quality, reliability and dealer service, nor do they receive positive feedback from family and friends.

Domestic carmakers are also facing a decrease in car buyers’ preferences, from 26% in 2009 to 20% in 2011. Poor quality, negative reviews and a lack of recommendation from family and friends are cited as the main reasons.

The study also showed that brand awareness and perception differs according to location and plays a major role in considering a new model.

“Brand awareness does depend on location; for example, in the South region, Japanese brands have particularly high brand influence due to their long tenure there,” said Dr. Mei Songlin, general manager of research at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Shanghai.

Models with the highest levels of consideration in each segment:

  • Compact segment: BYD F0 and Chery QQ3
  • Premium compact segment: Chevrolet Sail
  • Entry midsize segment: Volkswagen Polo
  • Midsize segment: Chevrolet Cruze
  • Lower premium midsize segment: BYD F6
  • Upper premium midsize segment: Honda Accord
  • Luxury segment: Audi A4L
  • SUV segment: Volkswagen Tiguan
  • MPV segment: Buick GL8
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