People buy what they're familiar with.
For a lot of consumers in China, that means electric cars.
Buyers in China buy nearly four times as many cars as buyers in the U.S. That means more carbuyers in China have experienced them and understand their silent acceleration, their range capabilities, and easy charging. That's the clear message about electric cars in a study by McKinsey & Company called "Finding the fast lane: emerging trends in China's auto market." In it, the corporate consulting giant found that: "A majority of electric vehicle (EV) owners is keen to buy EVs again, and the proportion of consumers who say they are interested in buying an EV has tripled since 2011."
In another report by the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan, 18 percent of Americans said they preferred electrified powertrains, while 56 percent of Chinese consumers said the same thing.
Electric car sales still represent a small percentage of the overall 28.9 million new cars sold in China in 2018—a little under 3 percent were so-called "new energy" vehicles. The vast majority of those are battery electric cars. That's twice the rate of adoption in the United States, or more than 650,000 drivers a year who gain experience with electric cars.
In McKinsey's study, Chinese consumers cite lower operating costs along with incentives such as government subsidies, tax breaks, and easier registration in cities as reasons for choosing buying electric.
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Two thirds of electric-car owners in China told McKinsey that they would purchase another electric car the next time around. Among those who did not choose an electric car, the main concerns they cited were a lack of charging stations and slow charge times.
As in America and Europe, Chinese shoppers said that sales people at dealerships were dismissive of electric cars and steered them first to gas- or diesel powered models, according to the study.
China has announced that, in addition to purchase and tax incentives designed to increase the market penetration of electric cars, it plans to ban sales of internal combustion vehicles in the country at some future date.