Who knew China was leading the way in cutting down diesel emissions from passenger cars?
As the Volkswagen scandal of cheating on diesel-emissions tests moves beyond the US, where it was discovered, to European and Asian countries, China so far appears unscathed.
It seems that the best way to make sure diesel passenger cars don’t pollute is to not make them. Last year, total passenger vehicle sales in China hit 19.78 million, according to IHS Automotive. But total Chinese production of diesel cars came in at 9,046, or 0.4% of sales.
That’s not to say there are no diesel-powered vehicles in China.
“Diesel is crucial to the Chinese economy, widely used in sectors ranging from manufacturing, agriculture, power generation to industrial transport,” said Wall Street Journal blog China Realtime.
Last year, China consumed 173 million tons of diesel, compared with 105 million tons of gasoline, according to data provider Wind Info.
Buses and trucks are the main users of diesel, but they make up only 15% of motor vehicles. Still, the Ministry of Environmental Protection reported in 2013 that China’s diesel-powered vehicles accounted for nearly 70% of all nitrogen oxide and more than 90% of all particulate matter emissions from China’s motor-vehicle sources.
China has said by 2017 it plans to eliminate these high polluters and is requiring vehicles have expensive emission-reducing equipment. This can add an additional 15% to the price of a car. That wasn’t flying with the Chinese consumer.
On top of that, the national and local governments offer incentives to buy environmentally friendly cars and discourage diesel cars.
“For example, the city government of Beijing bans drivers of diesel cars from obtaining license plates,” said China Realtime.
So, Volkswagen halted production of its diesel cars in China.
Chalk one up for the Chinese.