Electricity |  The openness towards cars from China is increasing

Electricity | The openness towards cars from China is increasing

Cars from China are becoming increasingly popular among buyers. One in three Germans can imagine driving a Chinese car. BYD and Polestar are in high demand.

Consumers are increasingly positive about electric cars from China. As a survey of German and European car owners by management consultant Horváth showed, 37% of Germans would consider a Chinese model when buying a car again. That is almost 15% more than a year ago, 11 percentage points below the European average. The current car benchmark 2024 “Car owners are in the fog” from Consors Finanz comes to the same conclusion. Based on this, 31% of German respondents would consider buying a Chinese car (38% worldwide).

According to the consulting firm Horváth, this development in Germany corresponds to the increasing acceptance of electric vehicles, which Chinese manufacturers are positioning themselves for. In relation to battery-powered models, the intention to buy increased from 13 to 30% during the period. Above all, it is an attractive price and a good price-performance ratio – i.e. the “total package” – that potential buyers expect from Chinese models. According to Consors Finance research, almost 40% consider Chinese models to be cheaper, while only 24% say the same about European cars. According to both surveys, customers hesitated because of concerns about quality, security, image and data protection. However, according to the ADAC test, the Chinese cars are now on par with the competition.

BYD can benefit from the EM effect

According to Horváth’s survey, the number of respondents who can name at least one Chinese car brand has increased from less than 70% to 85% within a year. The most popular Chinese manufacturer in Germany is BYD with 54% awareness. This means that every German or every second knows the BYD brand, which is the sponsor of the 2024 European Football Championship. cars in Horváth. BYD is followed in terms of motivation by Chinese brands called “European heritage”: the sub-brand Volvo Polestar (51%), the old brand Mercedes Smart (43%) and the original British brand Rover MG (40%) Back theirs are Lynk & Co (37%) and Nio (30%).

When asked which brands customers would specifically consider buying, BYD is most likely to be chosen in Germany, according to Horváth’s research. 53% would choose this brand. Polestar will be considered for 29%, MG for a quarter. All other brands would only achieve a preference of around 15%. “Brand awareness cannot be compared with a real intention to buy. The process from brand awareness to contract completion can take several years – so current marketing activities are an investment in the future,” says expert Horváth Mrusek. Internationally, BYD and Polestar are neck and neck.

BYD is no stranger

What is BYD and Polestar? BYD was already the world’s largest manufacturer of plug-in hybrids (PHEV) and battery-electric vehicles (BEV) in 2015, as Springer author Armin Schirmer explains in a chapter in the book New electric brands: Not everyone can be world market leader! he explained. “BYD has already delivered electric buses and taxis in Europe and will start selling its car in Norway in 2021. The product range is huge, from small cars to sedans to large SUVs,” says Schirmer. Since 2022, BYD has no longer produced clean combustion engine cars.

According to Schirmer, the big European attack also started in 2022. An agreement has been reached with Sixt to increase its presence on the road: the mobility service provider wants to buy more than 100,000 vehicles from BYD by 2028. “With its strength in the high-tech sector and A dealer network organized by seven major German dealer groups, BYD is a strong competitor,” summarizes Schirmer. BYD is also launching its first brand called Yangwang from 2023. According to media reports, the Yangwang U8 electric SUV may come to Germany soon. Recently, BYD expanded its model range to the European market with the PHEV model BYD Seal U DM-i.

Does Geely need a second Polestar brand?

Polestar, which was originally a sub-brand of the Swedish manufacturer Volvo, “produces all models in China and exports all over the world,” said Schirmer. Polestar now owns around 80% of Geely Group and 18% is owned by Volvo Cars. The market launch in Germany took place in 2021. “Volvo is well known, and Polestar represents the dawn of a new era,” said Schirmer – an assessment that also seems to be reflected in Horváth’s survey. However, Schirmer has questions about the brand policy of Volvo Cars and Polestar. “Are the target groups and brand profiles so different that you need two brands? Maybe not. Polestar is still not well-known for that. And you would save yourself a lot of communication efforts, two product ranges, two dealer presence and much more,” He says Schirmer. In addition, Polestar’s sales figures have been comparatively poor of late.

Strategically, the goal was to establish the Polestar brand as an “Electric Performance Car Brand”. “But what will happen to Volvo Cars? A stopped brand without an electric car? Maybe that’s not the intention. Volvo also wants to electrify the entire product line. Why then several brands from the same company that offers a range of electric cars. drive the car parallel?” asks Schirmer. Polestar representatives already find it difficult to define Polestar’s brand profile as “electric”, “high-tech”, “future-oriented” or “premium” and differentiate it from Volvo. “You’re small and flexible, but what good is that to the customer?” His suggestion: merge the two brands like Volvo-Polestar – like Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin.