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Consumers in China Pick Their 3 Favorite Electric Cars — and Only One Is Chinese

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  • Among the favorite EV brands in China are one from China, one from the United States and one from Germany.
  • This year's survey covered about 1,600 Chinese consumers mostly living in China's larger cities, with an average age of 32 and monthly income of about 19,000 yuan ($2,969).
  • Across cars of all categories, premium German brands ranked first, followed by Japanese brands and then Chinese brands including BYD and Geely, the report said.

BEIJING — When it comes to their favorite electric car brand, Chinese consumers' top choice is Warren Buffett-backed BYD, according to a survey by Bernstein.

Elon Musk's Tesla ranks second, and third on the list is Germany's Volkswagen, Bernstein said. The firm cited the latest results from a regular survey of Chinese consumers in the third quarter of the last few years. This year's survey, released Thursday, covered about 1,600 respondents.

Most of those surveyed lived in China's larger cities, with an average age of 32 and monthly income of about 19,000 yuan ($2,969), the research firm.

Nearly half the respondents said they will consider buying an electric vehicle for their next car purchase, the report said, noting consumer preferences for lower operating costs, a better driving experience and environmental friendliness.

Intent to buy an electric car from a Chinese start-up like Nio or Xpeng doubled this year to about 9.5% of those surveyed, up from around 5% for the last few years.

Chinese start-ups ranked first in the "upper mass & premium" segment of the electric car market, which covers cars costing at least 150,000 yuan ($23,437). The next most-favored in that segment was Tesla, followed by premium German brands like BMW and Audi, the survey found.

But across cars of all categories, premium German brands ranked first, followed by Japanese brands Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, and Chinese brands including BYD and Geely, the report said. Electric car start-ups ranked sixth in this category.

China is the world's largest auto market and many European car companies are making the country the starting point in their push into electric vehicles.

Volkswagen generates about 41% of its sales volume in China, according to Goldman Sachs.

Porsche counts China as its largest single market and reported 11% growth in the first three quarters of the year from the same period a year ago. During that time on a global basis, the German luxury automaker said its recently introduced electric Taycan model outsold its flagship 911 sports car.

— CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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