SHANGHAI, CHINA – Media OutReach – 7 February 2023 – The Chinese government is committed to reaching carbon emission peak by 2030, and the promotion of new energy vehicles is one of the main policy directions. In 2022, China accounted for over half of global electric vehicle (EV) sales, making it the world’s largest and one of the fastest growing EV markets. Kantar, the world’s leading data-driven analytics and brand consulting company, has recently conducted a self-funded multi-country study to understand consumer sentiment towards the high-potential market. The investigation gathered the opinions of 4,620 consumers through an online survey, using LifePoints online communities in US, mainland China, Hong Kong, Germany, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. It explored several related topics, including purchase motives & barriers; purchase journey & touchpoints; market positioning of Chinese EV brands domestically and their potential to win internationally.
In terms of purchase motives, EV owners expressed key reasons for buying EV is to keep up with advanced technologies and trends. Concerns related to driving range (43%) were shown as the main barrier for all, or what we named “range anxiety” in the study. From a practicality standpoint, EV considerers named driving range (46%), battery durability (43%), charging speed (42%) and availability of charging stations (41%) as the top 4 triggers that will determine their switch, and selection of brand/ car model. In foreign markets, including US and Germany, another important barrier towards the switch to EV, is the significant higher price compares to non-EV (42%). This indicates the limited choice of EV in the more affordable price car range in some countries, and the importance of government subsidies to accelerate adoptions of EV, as shown by the successes in the Nordic countries, such as Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.
Despite information is increasingly digitalized, when it comes to the consideration phase of potential EV buyers, we discovered that not all online information channels are equally important or necessary. For example, we found that there is good acceptance towards more neutral/UGC (user generated content) alike information. The study also found that an average EV buyer will use up to 8 information channels (online and offline) before making a purchase. We believe only prudent selection of channels that best fit the brands’ DNA and target audience will optimize marketing efficiency, and therefore purchase conversion. Offline store experiences and car exhibitions/events are among the top 3 information channels as rated by our respondents, and with no surprise, a good test drive experience is still utmost important to make that final conversion (47%). An interesting finding though, was that EV owners or intenders in mainland China shows better acceptance towards newer retail experiences than other countries researched (64% in mainland China compared to 41% in other markets).
For the awareness of EV brands among our respondents in mainland China, Tesla came top (75%), followed by BYD (73%), Xpeng (65%) and Nio (64%). 6 of the top 10 aware are Chinese brands. When it comes to Chinese EV brands that are already available outside of China, the top two aware brands are Xpeng and Nio. It indicates that Chinese consumers are open to both local and foreign EV brands, while Chinese EV brands such as Xpeng and Nio are generating good awareness and interest in certain countries, despite only being a relatively newcomer. Value for money is perceived as the top strength of Chinese EV brands outside of China.
Jeff Tsui, Managing Director of Kantar Profiles, Greater China commented:
“With the world being ever more environmentally conscious, combined with heightened fuel prices and advancement in technologies, I believe the prosperity of EV is at all-time high. As noted in another study conducted by Kantar Profiles recently, 38% of those who intend to buy a car this year, will consider buying an EV. Such prosperity is no longer restricted to the traditional automotive manufacturers, but others who are keen to invest in this space and have the right brand or product DNAs to be successful. Good examples are Baidu’s EV project Jidu Auto; the Sony Mobility Vision-S etc, all having different and strong reasons why I think it could be a success.
While the findings of this study indicated that Chinese EV brands, under the value for money proposition, have the potentials to fill the gap in certain countries, it is also important for these companies to continue their advancement to create more sustainable comparative advantages on a product level, and to play a more pivotal role in the ecosystem / infrastructure surrounding the adoption and use of EVs globally, to truly win the heart of consumers.”
Chris Jansen, CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Kantar group commented:
“We see a substantial growth opportunity to be addressed in the EV space. Our Mobility Futures research clearly indicates that hybrid and electric vehicles are entering more consumers’ consideration sets thanks to their environmental reputation. The findings from our Covid-19 Barometer work also showed us that the pandemic further increased consumers’ prioritisation of environmental issues. Kantar BrandZ illustrates very clearly that improving the EV portfolio is enormously beneficial for automakers’ brand valuations, and although Tesla is currently the clear leader in this space, we see both disruptors and incumbents making considerable progress. From the work we are doing with automakers around the world, it is clear the EV space and the urban mobility space more broadly will be incredibly dynamic over the next few years.”
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