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China is expected to become the world's largest premium car market, overtaking the United States and selling more than 2.3 million premium cars by 2016, according to a report released on Monday by McKinsey & Co.
The market for premium cars in China has accelerated by 36 percent a year over the past decade, against 26 percent annual growth in the overall Chinese passenger vehicle market during the same period.
Sales of premium cars in China reached 1.25 million vehicles in 2012, making it the world's second-biggest market after the US.
McKinsey highlighted 23 top brands as "premium", including Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley and BMW.
Its report forecasts China's premium car market to grow at an annual rate of 12 percent by selling 3 million premium cars a year by 2020, compared with 8 percent growth for the overall passenger vehicle market.
A fourth of the 1,200 premium car buyers in China who participated in McKinsey's survey said they are willing to spend more on a car because they are confident in their career and business prospects.
"The number of premium car buyers in China, who are optimistic about their future is increasing rapidly," said Sha Sha, a partner in McKinsey's Shanghai office and co-author of the report.
The research shows that 80 percent of Chinese premium car owners are considered "affluent", defined as consumers with annual disposable household income of more than 200,000 yuan ($32,100).
The incomes of premium car owners surveyed by McKinsey exceeded this threshold level, while the weighted average of annual household disposable income of all surveyed families was 450,000 yuan.
By 2020, there will be 23 million affluent urban households with a compound annual growth rate of 16 percent in China - 7 percent of the country's population and roughly equal to the total number of households in the United Kingdom today, the report said.