Chinese consumers are far more enthusiastic about electric cars, self-driving cars and shared car services than those in Europe and the United States, according to a survey released today by OC and C Strategy Consulting, a consultancy. Many auto makers, internet service providers and technology companies are investing heavily in developing expensive electric or self-driving cars. But some in western countries don’t seem interested in Chinese consumers.
More than 90 per cent of Chinese consumers said they would consider, may or will buy electric cars, according to the OC and C Strategy Consulting survey. But only about 50 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed targeted electric cars for their next purchase. In Europe, the ratio is between 64 and 77 per cent.
The global automotive industry is undergoing dramatic changes, including falling car sales, pressure to meet ambitious emissions targets, and the challenges of deploying fully autonomous vehicles to provide rental services.
The survey also showed that car buyers in the US, Germany, France and the UK were largely keen to retain private ownership of their cars (i.e., buying a private car), while more than 90 per cent of Chinese consumers were open to “fully shared” travel options.
Network car service providers such as Uber and Lyft are known to have said their goal is to reduce private car ownership.
But western respondents, including the younger generation, say owning a car remains an important status symbol, offering convenience and reliability that car-sharing or taxi services cannot match.
In addition, the findings have poured cold water on companies trying to offer “self-driving taxis”. Because the vast majority of respondents said they strongly wanted to own a fully self-driving car, rather than sharing it with others.
Overall, about a third of Western consumers in the survey said they did not trust self-driving cars, while only 4 per cent of Chinese respondents said they did not.
Researcher John Evison said the findings suggest that the auto industry should invest more in electrification and services for private car owners than “trying to create the next shared travel revolution”.