As we assume that cars are responsible for most of the air pollution in Beijing, let’s have a look at the status of emission standards. Most normal (passenger) cars drive on petrol in China (while in Europe diesel is also popular for small vehicles), and trucks and buses drive on diesel. Also i noticed in 2006 that normal cars of EURO II were no longer sold in Beijing (but continued to be sold outside the city); all new cars had to comply with EURO III. Now i have noticed some new cars comply with EURO IV but i am not sure the requirement for Beijing is already EURO IV for 2008; we do know that EURO IV fuel is now the standard since 1 Jan 2008. Wikipedia does not have much more info on this, but the People’s Daily reported in 2006 that Beijing would move to EURO III in 2007, and EURO IV in 2010. Dieselnet has a useful table on this, saying EURO III has been the norm for (new) vehicles in Beijing since 2005, and that we can expect EURO IV from January 2008, but this seems not to be the case.
For heavy vehicles (trucks and buses - mainly diesel) the timeframe has been different: EURO II is required since 2003, and EURO III since 2007, but Beijing already required EURO III from the end of 2005. As far as i know, in 2007 the Chinese truck manufacturers were not yet selling EURO III engines, which is part of the problem. Another problem is that emissions not only depend on the engine, but also on the fuel quality (mainly sulphur content), and it was reported that the supply of for example EURO III compliant diesel was not sufficient for the demand. The People’s Daily reported in 2006 that China had produced its first EURO IV engine for use in Beijing buses. If you have any more precise info on this, please share with us.
So we have EURO IV fuel now in Beijing, but not sure if all new vehicles (cars, buses, trucks) have to comply with EURO IV as well.
There is something interesting to note about emission standards and PM (fine dust, being the main polluting agent in Beijing): until EURO V there are no limits for PM in petrol cars! So moving from EURO II to III to IV may not contribute to improve the PM situation in Beijing. For diesel engines, PM is also limited by the earlier EURO standards.
- images taken from wikipedia: European emission standards -
Also interesting to note that the EURO standards do not limit CO2 emissions, the most common greenhouse gas, but there is a voluntary agreement between the EU and the car manufacturers to reduce the average CO2 emission of passenger cars to 120 g/km by 2012, and regulation may follow. Obviously French producers (small cars) are pro, Germans (big cars) are against (see wikipedia). I’ll try to find some info on cars made in China.
The European Federation for Transport and Environment confirms German cars increased average CO2 emissions in 2006 while French and Italian manufacturers reduced these emissions (BMW reductions were offset by Mercedes and VW increases). Japanese cars reduce CO2 emissions even more, with Toyota leading with an impressive 5%, but its absolute levels are still a bit higher than Peugeot-Citroen, Fiat, Renault, and Mercedes scoring worst, apparantly because its cars become more an more heavy on average.
Of course emissions can be much decreased with hybrid or electrical vehicles, and there are some developments in this field in China, although the government is not supporting this actively so the prices remain very high.
Hybrid cars in China
The Toyota Prius is for sale at around rmb 300,000 which is quite expensive for this size of car; Reuters reports the sales went down steeply in 2007. The same article of 17 Dec 2007 mentions that the state owned Chang’an Automobile Co is starting to make hybrids in Chongqing that will sell for around rmb 150,000.
Electric cars in China (EV)
Bloomberg reports from the Detroit Show that BYD will sell its F6DM model in China in 2008 for about rmb 180,000. The car can be plugged into a normal 240V socket to recharge, and has a range of 100km as EV and a 1L engine for use as a hybrid.