The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued the Regulations on Light Vehicle Fuel Consumption Labeling and released fuel consumption data of 5,923 car models manufactured by over 105 automakers on the first day of 2010. The move was seen as a milestone in the history of information release in China’s automobile industry.
Passenger cars and light commercial vehicles weighing 3.5 tons or less are required to carry a fuel consumption label as of January 1, 2010, according to the Regulations. The label must contain a corporate logo and figures of fuel consumption under three driving conditions: city, highway as well as integrated conditions.
For consumers in China, the fuel consumption level becomes the most important factor after the price of a car that affect the decision of potential buyers in China. However, such data used to be provided by automakers themselves without any supervision from industry associations or the government. In fact, most of the data listed by OEMs were lower than the actual fuel consumption level in everyday use. For instance, FAW-Volkswagen claims that its 1.6L MT new Bora consumes 5.8-6.0 liters gasoline per 100 kilometers under an ideal driving condition, while the actual average fuel consumption data offered by Bora owners was 7.5-10.3 liters per 100 kilometers, according to a domestic automotive forum. It has been an industry open secret that the actual gas-mileages listed by OEMs are lower than what they are in actual driving conditions.
China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) released fuel consumption data of 984 car models in the middle of 2009, which were welcomed by some consumers but questioned by others. The nature of CAAM offers doubts to its impartiality in compiling and releasing such information.
Testing data provided by MIIT, which is a government agency, are believed to be more reliable and neutral. Most consumers agree that the move is a big step forward in providing consumers with transparent information.
Implementation of the Regulations will have an impact on the choice of cars Chinese consumers will buy. It will also push automakers to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles in the future. Fuel consumption data will be a more important indicator than engine displacement in evaluating a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Consumers whose cars consume more fuel than indicated by the label will have the right to complain and the automakers will be responsible or fined, according to MIIT.
Questions still remain as to how authoritative the current tests are and whether the Regulations will be mandatory. Many Chinese consumers, however, say they will read the fuel consumption label when they buy a car.