The recent shifts in China's auto industry policy from development only, through development with emission control, to development with cleaner vehicle technology demonstrates that China is attempting to balance the challenges of economic development, environmental protection and energy security. National policies and programmes have played a major role in implementing this shift, but the greening of the auto sector is challenged by major obstacles, such as the high cost of manufacturing cleaner vehicles and building new infrastructure, and the low immediate economic benefits to consumers and producers. It is unrealistic to expect China to limit vehicle production or to transition to hydrogen vehicles quickly. However, China can move to cleaner vehicle technology by implementing both short- and longterm policies that reduce individual conventional vehicle emissions by strengthening vehicle emission standards, advancing fuel quality, promoting hybrid vehicles together with other alternative fuel vehicles, and preparing for an eventual transition to hydrogen vehicles. The government should also establish incentive policies for cleaner vehicle production and purchases, promote investment in infrastructure, strengthen partnerships between government and industry, disseminate information to raise public awareness, and encourage multinationals to use China as a testing ground for innovative hybrid and hydrogen vehicles.
CSS Publication Number:
Development and Change
Zhao, Jimin. 2006. Whither the Car? China’s Automobile Industry and Cleaner Vehicle Technology. Development and Change 37(1): 121-144.