China’s automotive industry

In 2009 China surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest automotive market. Currently, 287 million cars are registered in China, and seventy-two cities have more than 1 million cars. China’s automotive industry’s quick recovery after the COVID-19 has already demonstrated the market’s potential. Although the market is full of opportunities, competition in China’s automotive market is fierce. Car manufacturers now have to improve and innovate ever harder to win market share in China. Some changes happening in China’s auto market include the shift to new energy vehicles, the increase in second-hand sales coupled with the decrease in brand new car sales.

Our expertise in Chinese automotive market has helped us conduct projects in specific areas like automotive PR, design, pricing, using research tactics such as mapping car usage across China, smart calls, and organizing workshops to meet with industry insiders.

While 425 million people can drive, only 287 million cars are on the road in China. This ratio is much lower than that in the US, demonstrating the potential of the Chinese market. As Gen-Zs are becoming the main buyers in the automotive market, car manufacturers have to capture the group by offering more innovative, affordable, and environmentally friendly products.

In addition, more and more Chinese consumers now accept and even prefer domestic brands. As domestic car manufacturers produce more and more high-quality models that have won their reputation among Chinese consumers, they can now compete against foreign brands across market segments, even increasingly in the high-end market.

China’s new electric vehicle market, including battery-powered electric and petrol-electric hybrids vehicles, has grown substantially due to the improvement of EV range, government subsidies, and exemption granted to NEVS in many large cities’ vehicle registration restrictions. In 2020, the 1.3 million EVs sold in China accounted for 41% of the global EV sales. The demand for EVs in China is likely to continue growing, as popularizing EVs will be a key component for the Government to achieve the 2060 carbon neutrality target.

China’s EV manufacturers dominated by newcomers with “Internet DNA” like NIO and XPENG have invested heavily in R&D. Their high-quality models with innovative functions have enabled them to compete against Tesla for market dominance in China.

Although China’s second-hand vehicles market is still relatively small, with only 15 million vehicles sold in 2019, it is expected to grow rapidly in the next five years as the country aims to stimulate domestic consumption. The administration has already lowered the tax rate on second-hand vehicle transactions, intending to double the sales value by 2025.

While physical second-hand vehicle markets are still popular, online marketplaces such as Renrenche, Uxin, and Guazi, have become options for many. They allow users to compare prices conveniently and provide complementary services such as valuation and repair to enhance the experience for sellers and buyers.

The motor insurance market in China had total revenue of 834.5 billion RMB in 2018 and accounted for over 70 percent of the total premium in the non-life insurance market. There are two main categories of motor insurance in China. Compulsory Third Party Liability (CTPL) was implemented in 2006 as compulsory insurance covering third-party casualty in property loss in car accidents, and its premium is strictly regulated in China. Commercial insurance is voluntary; it provides extra financial protection in situations other than car accidents, such as theft, keying, weather or natural disasters.

Insights on China's car market