Air Quality or Economy?

The world’s largest car market, China, has a plan in place for a system of gradually increasing quotas for car sales, with the goal of making at least 20% of total car sales to be electric or hybrid by 2025. This set of policies is planned to start in 2018, but, as expected, many large auto manufacturers built on gas powered car sales have problems with China’s plan. Consequences of not meeting quotas will include outright bans on the import and production on non hybrid or electric vehicles on a company basis. A letter jointly written by the American Automotive Policy Council, European Automobile Manufacturers Association, Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, and the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association, was recently sent to the Minister of Industry and Information Technology of China. The letter suggested that at a minimum, the policies must be delayed a year and there must be more flexibility in penalties, otherwise vehicle production in China will see major disruptions. Whether or not China chooses to make these modifications will depend on serious debate, seeing as this is a pick-your-poison type deal: on one hand, the immediate effect of quickly shifting production and material sourcing from gas to electric vehicles could cost these companies a fortune, and some of the burden of these costs will most likely be deflected onto consumers or even employees. On the other hand, making the modifications will only prolong the levels of air pollution in China and the effect on the worldwide quality of air.

Source: New York Times (nytimes.com/reuters/2017/07/13/business/13reuters-china-autos-electric.html) By Peter Swann