Monday, September 7, 2009

China Car Boom Bigger Is Better

Bigger is better that is what the China auto market bellows. Huge vehicles have lured Chinese to the showroom and eventually making them push their purchase button.

The big car shopping boom is evident in China as vast numbers of citizens join the middle class in abandoning their bikes for sport utilities. In the process, this boom is expected to worsen Chinas ever-growing greenhouse gas emissions.

"It's a vicious circle - more autos, more roads," said Li Junhao, the deputy chief of the municipal urban planning department in Shanghai, which has fought the automobile trend more than any other Chinese city by restricting access to license plates and taxing the use of cars in its downtown.

"There's not enough space for the cars or land to build the highways. The dream of Chinese here is much similar to your American Dream, no?" Li said. "It's just the same as anywhere else - you want a car and a bigger house, so you consume and pollute more."

A decade ago, Chinas main mode of transport is bikes. At present, the streets are congested bumper-to-bumper. According to traffic authorities in the territory, total car ownership could go beyond the U.S. level by 2025.

Chinas bigger-is-better attitude coincides with U.S. Congress struggle to fight over mileage mandates and California is ready to put into effect its own plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

In July, in a sign of the raw political clout of pro-development forces, China's oil industry blocked a plan by the State Environmental Protection Administration to tighten vehicle emissions rules to meet strict European standards, the report added. In 2006, China became the world's second-largest market for new vehicles after the United States, with sales of 7.2 million, a rate that is rising by more than 20 percent annually. The government, meanwhile, is building a nationwide network of superhighways at a swift pace. Approximately 15,000 miles, the equivalent of one-third the U.S. interstate system, have been built since 2000, and 30,000 more miles are expected by 2020.

In the first half of this year, sales of cars with engine displacement smaller than one liter dropped by 28.9 percent over the same period in 2006 while sales of all sedans increased by 25.9 percent, and sales for sport utilities rose 39 percent, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

For China's legions of new millionaires, biggest is best. The truck decal, powerful engines and a groovy masculine appeal could have triggered their passion. Last year, a group of coal mine magnates from northern Shanxi province came to Beijing, purchased ten Hummers at 1.3 million yuan each, or $170,000, and drove them back to Shanxi in a convoy.

"Purchasing power is rising, so it's simple, to drive a higher-end car gives you more face," said Su Hui, the general manager of the Asian Games Village Automobile Exchange, the mall where the Liu family was shopping. Fittingly, Su's establishment is huge, a sprawling expanse of more than 100 auto dealers, the largest auto mall anywhere in China. "This trend toward bigger cars is new this year," he added. "It looks more glorious."

The auto boom has dismal implications for next summer's Olympic Games in Beijing tagged the world's most polluted capital city. Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee president, suggested at a ceremony in Beijing on Aug. 8 that events such as long-distance races might have to be delayed if the smog remains too heavy. "My concerns, which I believe are the concerns of everyone, are the climate and the environment, and especially the air environment," he concluded.

No comments :

Post a Comment