The Chinese government has enacted various incentives to promote the use of new energy vehicles (NEVs), mainly battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles. In this study, we analyze whether consumer preferences for NEVs changed between 2012 and 2017 and explored explanatory factors through questionnaire surveys conducted in the two years. The comparative results revealed four main findings. First, consumer acceptance of NEVs increased substantially between 2012 and 2017. Second, factors such as economic benefits, performance attributes, environmental awareness, and government policies were important in determining consumer acceptance of NEVs in both 2017 and 2012. New factors, including infrastructure construction and social influence, were shown to have had significant impacts on NEV acceptance by potential purchasers in 2017. Third, government policies had the most significant direct impact on NEV acceptance in 2017. Fourth, the indirect effects of government policies on consumer acceptance of NEVs are not strong but statistically significant, via government-promoted environmental awareness functioning as a mediating mechanism.