What Drives China's Car Buyers

There's little brand loyalty, but foreign nameplates like GM, Volkswagen, and Toyota have a better reputation than domestic models

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Zhu Lin and Li Lijie are no strangers to the insufferable traffic gridlocks of central Beijing. It is the natural outgrowth of more than a decade of blistering growth and the mainland's increasingly car-crazy culture. The newly married couple is lucky enough to live and work near a Beijing subway station, so owning a car never made much sense to Zhu, a 27-year-old government employee, and his wife, who works for a high-tech company. They aren't interested in joining the road-rage set coping with a hellish commute in the Chinese capital. Yet the lure of the open road outside of Beijing and visions of holiday trips to the country side led both to reconsider.

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