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New buyers opt for thriftier cars, says Nielsen
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Chinese people have slashed their budgets for buying automobiles amid decreasing consumer confidence and a bitter economy, but the diversified demand for private vehicles will continue to propel the market on a robust growth path, according to a recent survey from global information provider Nielsen.

BYD, a manufacturer of thrifty cars. [CFP]
BYD, a manufacturer of thrifty cars. [CFP]

The survey of 4,400 interviewees conducted from early October to late March showed that 55 percent people decided to buy cars priced below 180,000 yuan after the economic crisis broke out, 8 percentage points higher than before the crisis. In comparison, those who intended to purchase pricey vehicles above 300,000 yuan dropped 10 percentage points from about six months ago.

"Consumers are more rational and thriftier on vehicle purchases. Over 30 percent of the respondents said they will adjust their budgets for new car buys, and give more attention to fuel cost," said Georgia Zhuang, associate director, China consumer research, Nielsen, yesterday.

The company's consumer confidence index has dropped from 96 points in the second half of 2007 to 89 points (projected) a year later.

"Not surprisingly, first-time buyers have a lower budget now with 37 percent saying that their budgets are between 80,000 to 120,000 yuan," Zhang said.

According to figures from China Association of Automotive Manufacturers, 160,000 homegrown sedans, which target medium-and low-end markets, were sold in the first quarter, accounting for 29 percent of the total and topped the sales.

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