China Goes Car-Happy
China now has 25 million cars -- not a lot in a country with a billion-plus population. But that number is expected to double within five years, and triple by 2020. Motor vehicles currently consume 10 percent of China's energy, and China is now second to the US in carbon monoxide emissions.
In an attempt to "leapfrog" over pollution and fuel economy problems, the Chinese government is encouraging motorists to drive smaller cars and hybrids, tightening emission standards, and promoting development of alternative "green" fuels. One factor motivating the Chinese is their hosting of the Olympics in 2008, when they plan to present an environmentally-friendly face to the world.
China's efforts in this area could have a global impact. Because it represents such a large market, any fuel or pollution standards China sets could well be adopted by other countries hoping to export cars there -- even the US.