GUANGZHOU — Chen Qingtai, former deputy director of the State Council Development Research Center (DRC), recently said that “advanced diesel technology should be exploited as a means of energy efficiency, which is one of the most important policies for China’s automotive industry during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010).
Chen, a prominent government official, member of the standing committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and deputy director of the National Economic Committee, made the comments in late September at the 2006 Huadu Automobile Forum in Huadu, approximately 20 kilometers from Guangzhou, Guangdong Province.
“We’re talking about modern, advanced diesel technology that can meet emissions standards. Particulate pollutants discharged by diesel cars throughout the world in 2005 were 91 percent less than in 1990, while HC and NOx emissions went down by 95 percent,” said Chen.
Modern diesel technology is an effective response to energy shortages because it can save 20 to 30 percent in fuel without having to drastically change gas station facilities.
Statistics show that diesel vehicles currently account for about 23.7 percent of the total motor vehicle parc in China. But only about 0.2 percent of cars use diesel, while more than half of the commercial vehicles on the market are powered by diesel.
A recent DRC study shows that if 30 percent of the cars sold in China in 2020 use diesel technologies, approximately 28.37 million tons of oil could be saved, or 10 percent of the fuel used by automobiles.
Many factors play a role in the development of diesel engines, however. Most diesel engines on the market now do not meet Euro III emissions standard, and the quality of diesel fuel could also create problems.
Chen, one of China’s biggest diesel vehicle proponents, made a number of key suggestions for how to respond to these concerns. He believes that the government should encourage the introduction of advanced diesel engines and hybrid technology, and should push for higher quality diesel fuel.
On many occasions, Chen has urged the government to deal with environmental concerns through policies that favor diesel engines. He has even proposed a schedule for diesel engines to meet emissions standards in specific areas.
Diesel engines are widely used in Europe, North America, India, Japan and South Korea. In 2004, about 50 percent of the new passenger cars in Europe were powered by diesel. In France and Italy, these rates stood at 72 and 66 percent. In the U.S., diesel car sales have increased by 56 percent over the past five years, largely because buyers could claim tax subsidies.
Many experts believe China should use positive measures, such as road tolls and tax exemptions, cash subsidies and other incentives to encourage the use of diesel engines and convince more customers to buy them.