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  6. Chinese customers rely on the safety of their own cars

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Chinese customers rely on the safety of their own cars

Mobility in the city – that also means: little space on the subway, shared taxis, lots of people, in a limited area. In China, there are indications that the corona pandemic is increasing the desire to travel in a protected space. In a recent study by the market research institute Ipsos, two out of three respondents say that they prefer their own car to public transport. Twice as many as before the corona outbreak.

At the end of February, Ipsos asked 1,620 Chinese citizens about their mobility preferences – and the fear of the virus in changing their habits. Private cars jumped from 3rd to 1st place in terms of preferred means of transport, while buses and metros lost ground to a similar extent. Individually driven two-wheelers, on the other hand, maintained second place. The consulting firm Kantar came to similar conclusions as the Ipsos study. “Due to the epidemic, people will rethink how they move around in the future,” says a study on the consequences of the corona situation for the Chinese industry. This could increase the desire to buy a car.

“I expect the car business to reach last year’s level in early summer,”

Stephan Wöllenstein CEO of Volkswagen Group China
Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China

After a deep plunge in February, the Chinese car market is currently showing signs of recovery. “I expect the car business to reach last year’s level in early summer,” says Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China. Production has already restarted at 22 of 24 Volkswagen locations in China.

More than 98 percent of Volkswagen dealers have also reopened in the meantime. Among their next customers could be those who have decided to buy a car precisely because of the corona crisis – at least that is what the Ipsos study suggests.

One of the key findings: Two-thirds of all respondents who do not currently own a vehicle, want to buy a car within six months. For three out of four first-time buyers, protection against infection is a key reason for their purchase intention. In the ranking of purchase arguments, health is thus clearly ahead of motives such as being family-friendly or flexibility.

One particular opportunity could be the expected upturn for the JETTA brand, which Volkswagen launched on the Chinese market last year. JETTA appeals in particular to young customers who are buying their own car for the first time. With almost 30,000 deliveries in the first three months, JETTA had the most successful launch of all new car brands in China. “The figures show that JETTA has great potential. We want to build on this after the corona decline and win as many first-time customers as possible for a vehicle from the Volkswagen world,” announced Wöllenstein. At the moment, he said, sales are still slow. But there are many signs of a normalization.

According to studies, around 80 percent of all vehicles in the Chinese entry-level segment go to customers who are buying a car for the first time in their lives – this is precisely the target group that JETTA wants to address with high quality, safety, emotionality and fresh design. JETTA’s launch offer included the VS5 SUV and the VA3 Sedan. Recently, the brand also launched another SUV on the Chinese market with the VS7. Due to the corona crisis, the company refrained from a major presentation, and at short notice, switched it online. With a total number of seven million viewers, however, it indicates great interest. Wöllenstein: “The growing SUV segment represents almost half of the total market in China, and the trend is rising. I am convinced that the VS7 will sell excellently in the coming months.”

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