Chinese consumers pick favorite electric cars from China, US, Germany

Stephan Wollenstein, CEO of Volkswagen China, presents the new ID.6 Crozz electric car during the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition on April 19, 2021.

Hector Retamal | AFP | Getty Images

BEIJING — When it comes to their favorite electric car brand, Chinese consumers’ top choice is Warren Buffett-backed BYD, according to a survey by Bernstein.

Elon Musk’s Tesla ranks second, and third on the list is Germany’s Volkswagen, Bernstein said. The firm cited the latest results from a regular survey of Chinese consumers in the third quarter of the last few years. This year’s survey, released Thursday, covered about 1,600 respondents.

Most of those surveyed lived in China’s larger cities, with an average age of 32 and monthly income of about 19,000 yuan ($2,969), the research firm.

Nearly half the respondents said they will consider buying an electric vehicle for their next car purchase, the report said, noting consumer preferences for lower operating costs, a better driving experience and environmental friendliness.

Intent to buy an electric car from a Chinese start-up like Nio or Xpeng doubled this year to about 9.5% of those surveyed, up from around 5% for the last few years.

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

Chinese start-ups ranked first in the “upper mass & premium” segment of the electric car market, which covers cars costing at least 150,000 yuan ($23,437). The next most-favored in that segment was Tesla, followed by premium German brands like BMW and Audi, the survey found.

But across cars of all categories, premium German brands ranked first, followed by Japanese brands Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, and Chinese brands including BYD and Geely, the report said. Electric car start-ups ranked sixth in this category.

China is the world’s largest auto market and many European car companies are making the country the starting point in their push into electric vehicles.

Jaime E. Love

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