Dealers predict Chinese brands will claim up to 30% of UK’s new car market within five years

August 31, 2023 by

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  • One-third expect Chinese brands to secure 20% of the market by 2028; another third forecast a market share closer to 30%
  • Only 13% think that Chinese entrants will not succeed in UK market
  • 38% would be happy to retail Chinese stock, but nearly all say price will be key

New research by carwow, the UK’s online car buying and selling marketplace, has highlighted that a majority of franchised car dealers expect Chinese brands to secure a significant share of the UK’s new car market within the next five years.

Expectations are that Chinese brands will establish a modest foothold over the coming year, but that their market share will increase markedly thereafter. Only 13% think Chinese brands won’t be successful in the UK.

The survey, conducted amongst carwow’s dealer partners during July, asked: ‘What proportion of UK car sales do you think Chinese OEMs will take over the next 12 months’. The majority (68%) estimated that these new entrants would account for up to 10% of the new car market within the next year, with a further 25% saying that share is likely to be 11-20%.

When the same question was asked regarding longer-term prospects for Chinese OEMs, a third (33%) predicted that they would secure 21-30% of UK new car sales within five years, while almost one-third (32%) said they would claim between 11-20%, and a further fifth (21%) said up to 10%.

When asked about the likely motivations for consumers to purchase from Chinese car brands, nearly all (96%) said that price competitiveness will be critical – significantly more than the next highest-rated motivator, vehicle technologies, at 35%.

The top three factors deemed by dealers most likely to dissuade consumers from buying a Chinese car were potential concerns around build quality (cited by 75%), lack of brand familiarity (57%) and limited aftersales support (56%).

Most dealers have a generally positive outlook regarding the arrival of more Chinese brands, with 42% welcoming the increased choice it would offer consumers, and 47% saying it will increase competition between OEMs. In addition, 38% of dealers would be either ‘happy’ or ‘very happy’ to retail new cars from Chinese brands.

carwow’s new CEO, John Veichmanis, commented: “We’re already partnering with a number of innovative Chinese brands and are in discussion with many more as we share dealers’ sense of their potential. However, in order to succeed, Chinese brands will need to invest in establishing and then growing a strong brand presence, as well as be highly price competitive. Securing the trust, loyalty, and purchasing power of British consumers won’t happen overnight; it will require the commitment of time, dedication and resources previously demonstrated by Korean OEMs.”