Russians' attitude to Chinese cars

22 April 2024

As we wrote earlier, at the end of 2023, more than half (51%) of new cars sold on the Russian market were Chinese brands. Thus, Chinese cars increased their presence in the Russian market by 2.7 times in one year, and by 7.3 times in the last two years. However, despite such a powerful expansion, knowledge of Chinese brands and trust in them still lags behind similar indicators for European, Japanese and Korean competitors, which creates barriers to purchase. 

Earlier this year, ROMIR conducted a survey* of Russian consumers on the perception of Chinese car brands. The analysis of answers about knowledge of car brands in general showed that only 3 Chinese brands - Chery, Haval and Geely - are beginning to approach the level of European, Korean, Russian mass brands in terms of spontaneous and prompted knowledge. The other Chinese brands are lagging behind meaningfully.

Spontaneous and prompted knowledge of Chinese car brands

Source: ROMIR Unified Data Dashboard, Q1 2024

The study also showed that Chinese brands are perceived uniformly in the mass consciousness despite radically different model lines. Even premium Chinese brands do not have meaningfully differentiated perceptions. 

Nevertheless, the majority of Chinese car brands are associated by Russians with economy and frugality, environmental friendliness and innovation. However, for example, unlike the departed premium European brands, which were first and foremost perceived as reliable by Russians, none of the Chinese brands received such an assessment.  And only Exceed, Geely and Haval were characterized as status brands. 

Perceptions of Chinese car brands

Source: ROMIR Unified Data Dashboard, Q1 2024

The main reason why Russians do not consider Chinese cars to be reliable probably lies in the lack of experience in long-term operation. It is this fact that is also becoming the main barrier to buying Chinese cars, as 39% of respondents admitted. More than a quarter of respondents (27%) also stated that they are not sure about the long-term work of official dealers of Chinese car brands. Another quarter (26%) have doubts about the quality of bodywork - parts and paintwork. Every fourth (25%) survey participant fears low liquidity of Chinese cars on the secondary market (see Figure 3).

Ludmila Fukova, Senior Director of Client Relations at ROMIR, comments on the survey results: ‘Despite their strong presence in the market, Chinese manufacturers and dealers still have to win over the Russian consumer. It is necessary to get to know their target audience better, build communication to better understand their values, expectations, needs, remove barriers and debunk myths. And to help car manufacturers ROMIR is launching a special study on the process of buying a new car, which is dedicated to the study of new owners' opinion about their new cars in the first 7 months of operation. The first results will be available in the coming months.’

*The survey was conducted by online interview method on the basis of the ROMIR Unified Data Panel in January-February 2024. The total sample size is 1600 interviews. The sample represents the structure of Russian residents by gender, age, federal districts and type of urban settlements with a population over 100,000 inhabitants.

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