The China Car Cascade

According to a recent blog published by Electrek*, car buyers in China are coming back in waves.  Personal vehicles have become more desirable  as consumers concern surrounding the safety of public transit rise.

Last month, Ipsos, a global marketing research firm based in France, surveyed first-time car buyers. 41% of new buyers surveyed had a preference for Electric cars. (Approximately half of the respondents wanted Air Conditioning with a germ filter and an interior with antibacterial materials.)

Car sales in China were reportedly down over 95% during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. In March, sales were only 40% below a year earlier representing a significant climb in a short period of time. The China Passenger Car Association believes sales in the overall vehicle market will rebound to last year’s level by the end of April and reported  approximately 47,000 sales of electric cars in March 2020.

In June, Tesla will offer a Chinese-built electric vehicle with a longer range and only a slight increase in price.  Tesla sales jumped from 3,900 cars in February to more than 10,000 vehicles in March, the company’s best results in a single month and plans on pushing deeper into the Chinese market with a greater variety of products and services.

Volkswagen dealerships in China are reporting customers are once again returning to the showroom floors. There are many signs of recovery, with a good chance that the Chinese car market could reach last year’s level by early summer.

There are a plethora of creative tactics being used to re-start post COVID-19 sales. The Chinese government has launched incentives to increase sales which include extended Electric Vehicle subsidies, in some regions, license plate restrictions are being loosened, and some cities are deploying a program similar to cash-for-clunkers.  Automakers are  offering zero contact  test drives, and GM, which just unveiled its new Baojun electric vehicle, launched a no-questions-asked return policy within 30 days. Even Tesla is providing free charging in China.

It’s clear that Chinese buyers are switching from public transit to personal vehicles. If global auto sales rebound, the shift to electric vehicles could be faster than initially predicted. 


*Electrek is a news and commentary site that is tracking, analyzing, and breaking news on the transition from fossil-fuel transport to electric transport.

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