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Motorization, Vehicle Purchase and Use Behavior in China: A Shanghai Survey中國之機動化暨交通工具購買及使用行為:上海調研及案例分析


Motorization is the transition from non-motorized travel means (e.g., walk) to motorized travel means (e.g., car). China, as the most populous country in the world, has started the motorization process, and its results will have huge impact on the whole world in terms of transportation, energy, environment and automobile market.

At the national level, motorization is usually measured by the growth of auto ownership, and average income (GDP per capita) is usually considered the major driving force. However, this dissertation is focused on studying motorization at the individual or household. To do so, a pilot survey of 122 residents of Shanghai was conducted in late 2005, and a final survey of 1,037 people was conducted in mid-2006.

Research methodology, motorization pathway, and vehicle purchase (and use) behavior are three topics of this dissertation. Basically, this dissertation attempts to answer the following three questions: How to conduct survey research in China? What are motorization pathways in China? What is the vehicle purchase and use behavior in China? Regarding the first, trust from respondents is an important factor affecting people’s motivation to participate in the study. A short, straight-forward questionnaire and a team speaking the local dialect help to facilitate survey research. In terms of motorization pathways, the survey shows that motorization pathways in Shanghai are diverse, complicated (multi-staged), and as one would expect at this point, do not include cars for many households and individuals. About half of the respondents don’t simply follow my hypothetical motorization direction. In terms of the purchase and use behavior, variables such as gender, perceptions of different aspects of the utility of different travel means, as well as personal or household income are significant. Purchasing a car may be considered a “family decision” as it is positively associated with household income; however, weekday car use seems to be a more personal choice as it is positively associated with personal income.

Last, although Shanghai itself can not represent the whole China, the results (motorization pathways; choice models) of the Shanghai study may be generalizable to other Chinese cities experiencing rapid economic growth and with various transportation alternatives.

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