You'll Never Guess Which Car Shoppers Distrust Chinese Vehicles the Most

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
youll never guess which car shoppers distrust chinese vehicles the most

Nah, that’s completely false. You know exactly which car buyers would turn up their noses at the prospect of bringing home a brand new Geely or GAC. (Aren’t these brand names inspiring?)

After becoming familiar names in Europe, new tariffs have made the imminent influx of Chinese-branded vehicles into the U.S. less than certain. Suddenly, the 2018 Detroit auto show, with its big display of shiny new GACs (including a luxurious minivan with La-Z-Boy-like rear seats), seems so long ago.

But pretend for a second that the new tariffs don’t exist, and that Chinese automakers are poised to open up American showrooms tomorrow. Who’s likely to consider one? Who isn’t? A recent study will almost certainly not surprise you.

According to a survey of 1,565 American car shoppers conducted by Autolist, those who already own an American vehicle really aren’t that interested in swapping the stars and bars for a red flag. Pick yourself up off the floor, please.

The survey, published by Wards Auto, found that domestic vehicle owners were the least likely to consider a Chinese-brand vehicle. Only 22 percent of respondents said such a vehicle would be in the running. Owners of Korean cars proved the most likely, with 34 percent saying they’d maybe give one a go. That surely has something to do with the massively overhauled reputation of Korean vehicles, which didn’t get off to a great start after entering the U.S. marketplace in the late ’80s. Now, Korean brands dominate the upper ranks of J.D. Power’s initial quality survey.

Owners of Japanese and European brands split these two groups, with 30 percent of the Japanese crowd and 29 percent of the European crowd saying they’d consider a purchase.

Of the overall group of new car shoppers, 35 percent said they would flat-out refuse to buy a vehicle from a Chinese brand, 27 percent said they would consider one, and 38 percent fell into the mushy middle. Unsure, basically. Given China’s reputation for middling quality consumer goods, and with few Americans ever having had personal experience driving (or even sitting in) a Chinese-brand vehicle, it’s surprising the numbers aren’t stacked even further against China.

Opinion surveys are hardly scientific bedrock, and can hardly be counted on as an indicator of potential demand, though the responses do shed light on how a Chinese brand could pick up followers. It’s all about expectations. While nearly half of all respondents (45 percent) who said they would not buy a Chinese car listed quality and safety as their largest worries, a similar-sized group seemed ready to be wooed by rock-bottom prices.

Of those willing to consider a purchase, 40 percent listed price as the most compelling reason to buy a Chinese car. Eighteen percent listed technology as their top season, with safety coming in at 15 percent.

Both Geely (parent company of Volvo and Lotus) and GAC planned to enter the U.S. market in the next couple of years, but the Trump administration’s 25 percent tariff on Chinese auto imports might kibosh that strategy. In retaliation to Trump’s move, China upped its own tariffs on U.S. vehicles to 40 percent.

How quickly things can change.

[Image: GAC]

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2 of 52 comments
  • Bd2 Bd2 on Jul 26, 2018

    Doesn't matter if it is a Chinese brand, a European (or other) brand owned by the Chinese (such as Volvo) or a domestic or foreign brand model that happens to be built in China - Americans should not buy them. For other consumer goods, it's difficult to find something not made in China, but for autos, there's plenty of choice. More so than anything else, autos line the pockets of the PRC and with their totalitarian/uber-nationalist regime (not that we haven't been spinning towards a similar path), they are the biggest economic and military threat to America.

  • MyerShift MyerShift on Jul 28, 2018

    Never would I consider a Chinese car.

  • ToolGuy VW (marque not group) and Tesla very nearly switched positions on a YTD basis.
  • RHD Inexpensive gasoline appears to be a thing of the past. ILO is correct - we have enough sunlight, wind and emerging ocean wave energy to power the entire country and then some. Clean air is nice, and being free of the whims of OPEC, geopolitics and hugely profitable oil companies will do all of us a world of good.
  • Raymond Segura Can you tell me where I can get the rear bumper for 69 impala?
  • Art Vandelay some of the crazy numbers I get. Percentages look bigger with any fluctuations with low volume makes and brands leaving the market will see massive month over month changes. But what’s with Buick? I still see the occasional ad on TV and yet the drop is disproportionate even compared to all the other GM brands.
  • Master Baiter "There is no mandate for consumers to buy EVs, not in any country or state. That’s made up."Right. And you are not mandated to purchase a toilet that only uses 1.6 gallons/flush. You could choose to not have a toilet--just go in the woods, like the bears do.