China halts production of 500-plus gas-guzzling cars

Air pollution in Bejing, China. (Image courtesy of MGN / LWYang / CC BY 2.0)

China’s Vehicle Technology Service Center has announced a large-scale stop-sale of various gas-guzzling cars, including some that are effective Jan. 1. The move is part of the Chinese government’s ongoing efforts to curb pollution and promote electric vehicles.

All told, carmakers must halt production of 553 vehicles, including models from Audi, Chevrolet and Mercedes-Benz. Each was found to exceed increasingly stringent regulations on fossil fuel consumption.

Last fall, the government started to work “on formulating a timetable to stop production and sales of traditional energy vehicles,” according to official statements.

China is the world’s largest automotive market, and is striving to cut down on pollution problems that plague its largest cities. Its long-standing governmental position is one of staunch support for a wide-scale shift to battery- and hybrid-electric vehicle production. Hefty incentives have already helped spark a shift toward electrification industry-wide, and the new rules on fuel economy are simply another step — albeit a significant one — on its intended path toward domination of the electric vehicle market.

Analysts familiar with the Chinese market warn that more production halts will follow with considerable frequency as the regulatory agencies “emphasize a cut back on energy consumption.”

With some success already self-evident, the Chinese government’s position is unlikely to change going forward, as it not only serves to promote environmentally friendly technologies but also presents a potential solution to a classic dilemma of any modern nation: energy dependency. Without its own sources of oil, and thus a means of producing its own gasoline, nearly all of China’s fossil fuel is imported.

Transitioning away from such dependency therefore strengthens its own security, as well as potentially cleans the air in its cities.

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