Partner & Managing Director, Shanghai
SHANGHAI (November 4, 2021) – As the eyes of the world focus on last weekend’s opening of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, AlixPartners, the global consulting firm, today released its China-focused summary of a multi-country consumer survey, which points to both big opportunities and big challenges for the global automotive industry as it moves forward in its monumental transition to eco-friendly electric vehicles.
On the one hand, for instance, the survey—which polled licensed drivers in China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States (with California’s results also analysed separately)—finds that “BEV Believers”—those “very likely” to buy or lease a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) as their next car—have, on average, more than doubled from a similar survey AlixPartners fielded two years ago. Today that number stands at 25%, up from 11% in 2019. Each market in the survey registered an increase in this measure, but China again led all markets, with 50% of respondents indicating they are “very likely” to purchase a BEV (up from 34% in 2019). This corresponds to its place as the market with the highest market share of BEVs as a proportion of cars sold.
On the other hand, the survey pinpoints continuing major hurdles for the auto industry. The survey revealed little change in the number of “BEV Resistors” —those very unlikely to buy a BEV — which were down only 3 percentage points, on average, to 16% (vs. 12 percentage point gain in Very Likely). Top reasons for not buying a BEV, both in China and globally, remain electric driving range and charging convenience. Most Chinese consumers want to charge away from home (62%), and 90% of China respondents consider public charging availability very important to their BEV buying decision. Furthermore, 56% of likely BEV buyers in China expect automakers themselves to ensure available charging networks – which suggests that any corporate business plan relying on governments or other third parties alone to take care of ensuring public charging is probably foolhardy.
“The good news is that in China, and with just a few exceptions around the world, consumers seem to be getting more and more interested in electric vehicles,” said Shiv Shivaraman, Co-Leader of the Asia Enterprise Improvement Business at AlixPartners and a managing director at the firm. “However, huge hurdles remain on many fronts, including achieving parity on vehicle cost and meeting consumers’ expectations that the auto industry itself, and not just governments, work to ensure charging infrastructures.”
The survey also finds that consumers, especially BEV buyers, are very demanding about having online purchase and ownership experiences—which could over time represent an existential challenge to in-person dealerships, as well as new, intensified challenges to automakers. For instance, the survey finds that those “Moderately likely” and “Very likely” to purchase a BEV across all the markets are almost three times more likely (40% vs. 12% globally, and 56% vs. 33% in China) to prefer an online experience than are those unlikely to buy a BEV. Meanwhile, of the China survey respondents whose interest in BEVs has increased in the past year, 26% of “Very likely” BEV buyers say the influence of friends and family is the main reason (versus only 11% of those not interested in BEVs) — which suggests that not only do sales models need to change, but perhaps more “grassroots” marketing channels, such as greater use of social media, are in order.
“The strong and increasing desire to purchase BEVs online implies that customers for these products are not satisfied with the traditional auto retail purchase experience and are more inclined than most to involve digital technology in their lives,” said Dr. Stephen Dyer, Leader of the Asia Automotive & Industrials Practice at AlixPartners and a managing director of the firm. “Changes in the auto industry at this time are truly historic, and China is at the forefront of this technological and business disruption. Winners in this era of change will be those who are nimble enough to proactively adopt new business models, while tenaciously seeking to deeply understand and flawlessly deliver to the functional and emotional needs of customers related to products and services that many have not yet seen.”
The AlixPartners 2021 Electric Vehicles Consumer Sentiment Survey was an online survey of 8,124 consumers in total ages 18 and older possessing driver’s licenses conducted August 17-31, 2021 in Greater China (1,007 respondents), France (1,005), Germany (1,015), Italy (1,019), Japan (1,017), the United Kingdom (1,007) and the United States (2,054, including 1,051 in California, whose results were analysed separately)—markets that accounted for 85% of battery-electric-vehicle (BEV) sales worldwide in 2020.
AlixPartners is a results-driven global consulting firm that specializes in bringing senior teams to help businesses successfully address their most complex and critical challenges. Our clients include companies, corporate boards, law firms, investment banks, private equity firms, and others. Founded in 1981, AlixPartners is headquartered in New York, and has offices in more than 20 cities around the world. For more information, visit www.alixpartners.com.
Crystal Leung, AlixPartners
+852 2236 3512
Angela Chung, Finsbury Glover Hering
+852 3166 9880
Snowy Tang, Finsbury Glover Hering (Shanghai)
+86 184 2062 4066
Yi Wang, Finsbury Glover Hering
+86 186 2315 5173