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China local brand car appeal improves

The appeal of China’s local brand cars improved, narrowing the gap with international brand cars to its slimmest level since 2003, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2013 China Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) StudySM released on November 29.

The study examined vehicles in 10 aspects: vehicle exterior; vehicle interior; storage and space; audio/entertainment/navigation; seats; HVAC; driving dynamics; engine/transmission; visibility and driving safety; and fuel economy.

The overall APEAL score of China’s local brand cars averaged 772 points (on a 1,000-point scale), compared with 816 among international brand cars. The gap was 44 points compared with 58 points in 2012.

Korean brands achieved the highest APEAL score averaged 838 points. European brands averaged 823 points, followed by U.S. (805) and Japanese (800) brands.

Chinese brands averaged 32 points below industry average, an improvement from 41 points below industry average in 2012.

Overall vehicle APEAL score in China averaged 804 points in 2013, decreasing by 18 points from 2012. This significant drop was partly attributed to the increase of models in China auto market.

“With more than 500 passenger vehicle models in the market, it has become more difficult to woo Chinese consumers,” said Mei Songlin, vice president and managing director of J.D. Power China.  

Significant year-on-year price decline also impacted customer satisfaction, according to the 2013 study.

“If owners see the price of their newly purchased vehicles declining dramatically, their appreciation of the vehicles’ appeal will be impaired,” said Mei.

Luxury brands earned six highest-ranked positions among the 65 brands examined in the study. Land Rover ranked highest with a score of 857, followed by Audi and Mercedes-Benz (in a tie) with 848 each.

Two China’s local brands, the Luxgen and Zhonghua, ranked above the industry average. 

Local analysts believe that China’s local automakers should expand investment in researching and developing core components such as engines and transmissions to improve the appeal of new vehicles.

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