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Big data reveals trend of Chinese auto market


BEIJING, (Xinhua) -- Many cars at the ongoing Beijing auto show can momentarily seize the attention of visitors, but such scenes can hardly tell what sorts of automobile are customers' favorites.

A new report based on big-data technology, however, discloses some clues in the world's largest auto market.

Prior to the opening of the auto show, Baidu, a leading Chinese search engine, issued a report on the features and demands of Chinese car buyers, by analyzing massive search data in the past year generated by the country's 600-million-plus Internet users.

The report has been upgrading with a real-time feed of search inquiries related to the show, which kicked off on April 21 and will conclude on April 29.

One finding may get foreign investors excited is that the number of search queries for "imported cars" increases slightly year on year, up to 26.1 percent, though domestic automobiles still dominate the current Chinese vehicle market.

According to real-time results generated by Baidu Index, searchers of imported cars are mainly young people under 30 years old.

Another surprising finding shows that 42.6 percent of web users searching cars come from the fourth-tier, or very small cities, and the number is almost three times that from first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai, which have rolled out car-purchase restriction policies to tackle traffic congestion and air pollution.

Price-sensitive Chinese consumers are beginning to pay more attention to car's comfort and functions, as more than 50 percent of search queries are related to SUVs or compact cars, according to the report.

The report also offers a list of popular search keywords, including "most popular new models", "new-energy cars", "Top 10 traffic violations" and hot issues related to car consumption.

Though the data-based report seems only to include web users, it also reflects some changes and habits of Chinese car buyers.

"It is becoming very important for people to get information about cars online, especially in cities with very few test-drives," said one web user.

One analyst added that the report may invoke a revolution in the auto industry, indicating that search engine marketing would be prevailing.

It is not the first time that Baidu has used big data to launch hot issue discussions. In February, it applied the real-time result to trace human migration during the Chinese Spring Festival travel rush and made a similar quantitative report on the most popular issues during the annual political sessions in March.

Baidu chairman Li Yanhong said at the sessions that the Internet is accelerating the transformation of traditional industries towards higher efficiency.

Zhang Yi, CEO of an Internet consulting company iiMedia Research, said the report is not a piece of pioneering work as many conventional industries have begun to make use of big data.

"What I am concerned more is how to use big data to solve the problem that people face every day," said Zhang, who expresses the wish that Internet giants could develop new technology to tell people traffic conditions and offer drivers smart suggestions.



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