Today’s Chinese consumers shopping for a new vehicle want it all. They crave the size and extra space of a sport utility vehicle (SUV), but also are increasingly demanding better fuel efficiency, according to a new survey from Honeywell. The survey signals a reluctance to compromise on either their big, fun and roomy vehicle or their desire for enhanced fuel economy. The research was conducted among more than 6,000 drivers in China.
The Driving Experience Redefined
As the middle class and wallets expand, and with travel and leisure on the rise, Chinese drivers are looking beyond just a vehicle’s function: They want their vehicles to be part of their overall lifestyle statement.
- Increased interior space was one of the top four most important purchase considerations, ranking behind safety, fuel efficiency and cost.
- Exterior design and brand comprise two of the top six preferences.
- Combined, SUVs and multiperson vehicles accounted for nearly 70 percent of Chinese drivers’ preferences. With the implementation of China’s two-child per family policy, demand for SUVs is expected to rise.
“The SUV trend is clearly here to stay and now coincides with an increased desire for fuel efficiency,” said Charles Jin, vice president and general manager, China, for Honeywell Transportation Systems, referring to the more than 50 percent growth rate of SUVs in China in 2016. “The good news is that with today’s technology, consumers don’t have to compromise. For instance, purchasing a turbocharged vehicle is one of the easiest choices a consumer can make to save on fuel without forgoing fun, performance, space or style.”
Fuel Efficiency: A Top Priority
While momentum continues in the SUV space, the Honeywell study reveals that fuel economy is an important purchase consideration among consumers. For example, the survey indicated:
- Traffic jams (chosen by 50 percent of respondents) were the No. 1 driving pet peeve.
- Fuel efficiency ranked ahead of price as a concern for China’s car shoppers. Only safety ranked ahead of fuel efficiency.
- When asked if they could improve only one thing about their car, most respondents (51 percent) cited increased fuel efficiency as their No. 1 consideration, with an in-car air purification system as No. 2 (16 percent).
- When asked, “What is your dream car?” close to 20 percent of respondents chose a “100 percent green car,” which ranked second to “super safe car.”
Record pollution and environmental concerns are contributing factors to the survey findings, as is China’s worsening traffic congestion. Congestion not only frustrates drivers, it also contributes to air pollution. This month the government issued its first red alert, noting that pollution was 10 times higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended levels.
The central government’s newly issued tax break on engines displacing below 1.6 liters will make downsized turbocharged SUVs even more attractive. Smaller displacement turbocharged engines are designed to use less fuel while offering the same or better levels of performance as the larger engines they replace.
“We are eagerly looking forward to introducing even more highly fuel-efficient, turbocharged SUVs in the popular below-1.6L segment with leading Chinese carmakers in 2016,” Jin said.
Turbocharging the Industry
Turbo technology is becoming increasingly popular with Chinese drivers. In fact, Honeywell predicts that turbo penetration in China will jump from 28 percent this year to 47 percent in 2020, compared with 17 percent in 2007.
Turbos can help lower emissions and improve fuel economy by as much as 20 to 40 percent in gas and diesel engines, respectively, when compared with naturally aspirated gas engines, and still provide the same or better engine performance as the larger engines they replace.