The Chinese government has issued several documents this year to strictly enforce State-IV emissions standards for diesel vehicles due to go into effect on January 1, 2015. The Newly Produced Motor Vehicle Environmental Protection Standards Compliance Supervision Planning, the Air Pollution Control Action Plan, and the Elimination Plan for Polluting and Old Vehicles (2014) are just some examples. The Ministry of Environmental Protection reiterated recently that “a single examination will not do and a long-term supervision mechanism must be settled” in enforcing State-IV emissions standards.
However, the implementation of above regulations is expected to encounter snags as different stakeholders do their part to support nationwide State-IV implementation next year.
All emissions systems of a State-III compliant vehicle need to be updated to be able to meet the new standards with high-pressure common rail and after treatment. Since many enterprises muddled through the progress of State-II to State-III emissions standards upgrade, it takes large amount of investment and long-term R&D cycle to fulfill State-IV emissions standards.
The issue of core technologies patent has also hindered the upgrading procedure. As product technical patent of overseas companies will become accessible every three to five years, some Chinese automakers may imitate and learn advanced technologies during this period. However, without sophisticated craftsmanship and high-end raw materials, some Chinese OEMs have failed to manufacture qualified engine platform that fulfills the new standards.
The lingering policies in recent years give enterprises little time to prepare for the new standards. Without strict execution and supervision of the new standards, the government could easily lose credibility. Promotion of environmental awareness and provision of subsidies to end users who bear environmental protection pressure should be put on the agenda.
As fuel quality would largely affect the overall performance and emissions of engines, the supply of State-IV emissions standards compliant diesel has become a major issue to be addressed. While Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has vowed that State-IV compliant diesel fuel will be available nationwide by yearend, it still remains to be seen whether the big oil tycoons such as PetroChina and SINOPEC and local refineries can work diligently and effectively to bring State-IV diesel to the market.
If these different stakeholders do not put their differences and interests behind them and work together, then the execution of State-IV emissions standards will just be another empty talk.