Purchase Intent High for Electric Vehicles in China

Purchase Intent High for Electric Vehicles in China


Georgia Jia Zhuang, Director Consumer Research, China

SUMMARY: Chinese consumers have relatively high awareness and strong purchasing intention for electric vehicles, according to Nielsen’s China Electric Vehicle Market Report. Conservation and low operation costs are the key factors of consideration for Chinese consumers.

With global energy and conservation concerns, new energy vehicles are becoming the focus of all leading auto manufacturers. Though the electric vehicle is not at a mass production stage just yet, Nielsen’s China Electric Vehicle Market Report shows that there is still a high percentage (68%) of Chinese consumers showing awareness or familiarity of this developing technology.

And while the ever-developing lithium battery allows the electric vehicle industry to accelerate, leading auto manufacturers are concentrating on concept design and sample testing of electric vehicles. To uncover and answer questions regarding Chinese consumers’ needs and user behavior, Nielsen conducted a nationwide survey among 1,478 vehicle owners and potential vehicle owners.

High Interest Revealed

Chinese consumers hold a relatively high purchase intention to buy an electric vehicle. Nearly eight in ten respondents showed intent to buy an electric vehicle if price was not taken into consideration. Among the respondents, car owners that currently drive a car of 1.5 L displacement or less showed the highest intention (80%) to purchase the electric vehicle.

Deciding Factors

Among 1,104 existing and potential car owners with purchase intent, nearly nine in ten (88%) stated that they would take into consideration the fuel emission and how environmentally friendly the vehicle was. Second in importance was the low operational cost for no fuel consumption (81%).

Other key factors in a potential purchase decision include:

  • Low engine noise and passenger room (66%)
  • The appeal of new energy-source technology (61%)
  • Potential government subsidy (48%).

Even though the electric vehicle is only in the market fostering stage, the fact that Chinese consumers already hold a high awareness and purchase intent for this new energy-source technology presents huge opportunities for manufactures. To effectively convert intention into action, it is important for manufactures to truly capture the consumers’ tipping points through understanding demand. How the right message engages the right demand target and where the right supply meets higher profit demands, are the keys to capturing a higher percentage of profitable demand.

Imposing Views

A few key factors are impeding consumers from purchasing the electric vehicle. Among 374 existing and potential car owners without purchase intention, 77% of consumers stated that the electric vehicles’ underdeveloped charging facilities and the inconvenience of battery charging are main concerns. Also, short running mileage after a single charge (67%), immaturity of new technology and potential fault in technology (64%), long charge times (43%), underdeveloped maintenance techniques (36%) and incomplete driving experience from a lack of boisterous engine (25%) were also mitigating factors when looking at consumer purchase intention.


Automobile manufacturers need to narrow the gap between electric and traditional gasoline-consuming vehicles to capture consumers’ hearts, and eventually their wallets. They need to accelerate the development and promotion of micro or small electric vehicles. Home-use vehicles with high mileage endurance, fast charging, long battery life and stable performance will be favored by most consumers of electric vehicles.