Chinese-made cars are still quite rare on the German market. But the manufacturers have ambitious plans and meet a basically open clientele. However, there is a catch.
According to a survey by management consultancy Berylls, German Audi, BMW and Mercedes drivers are surprisingly open to Chinese cars. Around 20 percent of those surveyed could in principle imagine switching to a Chinese luxury brand, Berylls said on Thursday. Among respondents who already have experience with Chinese cars, the figure is as high as 61 percent.
It is therefore extremely important that Germany’s largest car rental company Sixt wants to take over 100,000 electric cars from the Chinese manufacturer Byd in its fleet over the next six years: Many customers could try out Chinese vehicles for the first time.
“High prices will, however, reduce customer acceptance,” predicted the industry experts. Because the motorists surveyed “first and foremost expect a good price/performance ratio. The positioning of the brands from China, on the other hand, is primarily aimed at the expensive premium segment”. However, German customers do not perceive any significant technical superiority in the Chinese brands. A quarter of those surveyed who have experience with Chinese cars criticized the quality.
That certain something is missing
It is also problematic that they differ too little from each other, both technically and in terms of design: “The Chinese models lack that special something that customers who are willing to pay a premium price are looking for.” Digital features that are very important for car buyers in China hardly play a role for German car buyers. It is therefore “obvious that those manufacturers who price their products at eye level or too close to the German competition will find it very difficult to be successful on the German market”.
Chinese car brands and models were little known to the participants in the representative survey. An exception is the Volvo offshoot Polestar, which a third of those surveyed know at least by name.
Car owners aged 30 to 39 had the fewest reservations about manufacturers such as Polestar, Byd or Nio. Winning this age group as first-time customers is important for premium manufacturers, because German buyers from around the age of 40 usually decide to buy a premium model for the first time, said Berylls expert Soleiman Mansouri.
Byd wants to sell 120,000 cars in Germany in four years, other manufacturers have similarly high goals. They “meet customers here who want to give them a chance, but it is unrealistic that there will be so many in a short time, especially if the offer consists exclusively of e-cars,” wrote the industry experts. The German e-car market is too small for that and is growing too slowly.