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Rome, Milan Latest Big Cities to Curb Cars to Cut Pollution

Delhi also set to join growing club.

by on Dec.24, 2015

A blanket of smog over the Eternal City. Photo courtesy: the Sustainable Cities Collective.

Facing worsening pollution problems during an unusual warm, dry December, officials in Rome and Milan have ordered temporary automotive bans next week.

The two Italian cities join a fast-growing club with more and more of the world’s major metropolitan areas ordering drastic steps to deal with air quality issues. Beijing and several other Chinese cities have included automobiles in new restrictions triggered by air pollution red alerts, and the Indian capital of Delhi is debating its own automotive restrictions.

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Roman officials were already debating limits on traffic in the city, especially on its famous Via dei Fori Imperiali, the route running by the Colosseum. But they are now enacting broader, if temporary, restrictions to cope with what the Associated Press is describing as “eye-stinging, throat-irritating air.”


China Killing 6 Million Old Cars to Cut Smog

Large cities enveloped in perpetual health-threatening haze.

by on May.27, 2014

The Chinese government plans to remove 6 million vehicles from the country's fleet to alleviate some of the country's pollution problem.

During the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the world was exposed to the crippling smog that residents of the city are exposed to on a daily basis. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see Beijing residents wearing masks to ward off the effects of what’s floating around in their air.

The rest of the country faces similar environmental issues and after years of posturing, the government is taking action to mitigate the problem.

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It’s taking 6 million older vehicles off the roads this year in an attempt to offset the problem, although it hasn’t provided the plans yet for doing so. (more…)

VW Plugging Into Chinese EV Market

Maker promises to invest $27 bil over 5 years.

by on Apr.20, 2014

VW will launch the e-Golf and an assortment of other battery-based vehicles in China.

With Beijing’s traffic choked roads as a backdrop, Volkswagen announced a major initiative to put tens, perhaps 100s of thousands of electric vehicles on the road in China before the end of the current decade.

VW chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn said VW and its key Chinese partners were prepared to spend as much as $27 billion in the next five years on electric vehicles in China.

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“The Volkswagen Group is once again assuming a pioneering role in China and launching the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China’s automotive history”, s said. Martin Winterkorn,

The initiative gets underway with the launch this year of the Volkswagen brand’s electric Up! and e-Golf models in China.


Beijing Slashing Car Sales to Fight Smog

But capital city will encourage sales of battery-cars.

by on Nov.05, 2013


Traffic congestion has become a major challenge in China, as has air pollution.

Regulators in China’s smog-choked capital will slash new car sales in hopes of getting control of Beijing’s notorious air pollution problem.

Facing some of the worst smog ever in recent months, the city has already taken such steps as temporarily closing some of Beijing’s traffic-packed freeways. Now, regulators will reduce the quota on the number of new cars residents can buy next year by 40% — with the rules favoring electric vehicles and other “green” technologies.

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China has become the world’s largest automotive market, with sales expected to top 17 million this year – roughly two million more vehicles than in the U.S.  But that surge has been linked to the country’s worsening air pollution problem.  Beijing was one of the first Chinese cities to restrict motor vehicles sales, along with the country’s other major megalopolis, Shanghai and two other cities. But several more, such as Chengdu, are also enacting quotas designed to slow the pace of growth of the automotive fleet.


World’s Largest Auto Market to Restrict Car Purchases

China placing limits on buyers to address pollution, traffic problems.

by on Jul.11, 2013

Traffic congestion has become a major challenge in China, as has air pollution.

Struggling to cope with worsening smog problems even as the roadways in places like Shanghai and Beijing become choked with traffic, Chinese regulators plan to enact new restrictions limiting the number of vehicles that can be sold in a many key cities around the country.

Such limits are already in place in four major cities, and another eight will be added to the list, according to reports published today by China’s well-connected state media.  It’s not clear if the expanded list will make exceptions for those buying lower-polluting battery-cars, as has been the case in the past.

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China is now the world’s largest automotive market but the rapid growth – which neared triple digits during parts of the past decade and was running at over 9% on an annualized basis during the first half of 2013 – has had its cost.


Chinese Auto Market Could Soon be Larger than US, Europe Combined

But skeptics warn China's boom could go bust.

by on Apr.22, 2013

The Buick Riviera Concept.

Ford and General Motors are charging forward into the past this week at the Shanghai Auto Show, reviving two once-familiar nameplates in a bid to build market share in what has become the world’s largest automotive market.

The Ford Escort and Buick Riviera are just concept vehicles for now, but both offer hints of what the two U.S. manufacturers may have in store for Chinese consumers.  Indeed, once little more than a backwater event, the Shanghai gathering is this year one of the world’s most significant car shows, with dozens of new vehicles making their global debut there.

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And for good reason – by at least one estimate, the Chinese automotive market could soon be larger than the U.S. and European markets combined. By 2022, forecast senior GM officials, sales in the People’s Republic could top 35 million annually. That’s more than double the peak hit in the American market nearly a decade ago.

No surprise, then, that Tim Lee, the president of GM’s International Operations, told reporters that, “No market is more critical than the China market for us.”


Despite Weakening Economy, Chinese Car Sales Still Solid

Chinese airline to start in-flight car sales.

by on Mar.12, 2013

VW and GM remain locked in a battle for dominance in the booming Chinese market.

Surging global stock markets slipped back this week as China released surprisingly weak economic data – but one sector of the vast Asian nation’s economy remains strong, Chinese car sales surging 40% for the first two months of 2013 after an unexpectedly weak performance last year.

For some carmakers, Chinese demand appears to be surging as they bring on new products, while for others, it is taking new discounts to help bolster sales.

But industry analysts continue to worry about what may happen as government regulators come under increasing pressure from both the public and a new cadre of Communist Party leaders to tighten environmental regulations in the wake of record pollution levels in the capital Beijing and other parts of the country. As recently reported, stricter automotive emission rules – possibly including a press for more battery cars – are being actively considered.

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The 40% year-to-date increase in overall Chinese car sales comes despite a drop in February as the Chinese celebrated the Lunar New Year, a week-long holiday during which little or no business is transacted across China.


China’s Car Boom Could Go Bust

Reining in sales in the name of clean air.

by on Mar.01, 2013

Ford CEO Alan Mulally during a recent trip to China. Ford's sales are booming but could slip if regulators curtail the Chinese market.

After a few stutters last year, China’s massive automotive market seemed to get back on track in January, sales surging 46% compared to year-earlier levels. Yet there’s growing concern that the good times won’t continue for long.

There are a number of reasons to be worried, including a still frail global economy, nagging regional issues that include an ongoing territorial dispute with Japan and declining foreign investment. Yet the biggest concern, it seems, may be China’s endemic and worsening problems with air pollution.

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That has already led Chinese regulators to call for a rapid switch to battery-powered vehicles. But with market demand lagging Beijing’s call, a growing number of observers fear the central government may soon put in place steps to curb automotive ownership.

A growing number of major cities, including capital Beijing and economic center Shanghai, have already put restrictions in place, such as monthly limits on new vehicle registrations – though such measures have generally been aimed at curbing traffic problems, rather than emissions issues.


Auto Boom Brings Challenges to China

The world’s largest car market discovers the perils of petroleum imports, smog and traffic.

by on May.26, 2011

A days-long traffic jam on the G-110 toll road into Beijing underscored the perils of China becoming a nation on wheels.

The People’s Republic of China faces a huge dilemma when it comes to cars.

On the one hand the swift rise of the Chinese automobile industry has brought jobs, investment and a huge measure of prestige to China over the past decade. Only last month, the Shanghai Auto Show eclipsed the New York Auto Show by attracting senior executives from Daimler AG, Toyota and Volkswagen, among others.  China’s hunger for new vehicles probably won’t peak for another decade, according to most estimates.

China is now the world’s largest automotive market, surpassing the United States and is unlikely to slip back into second place, noted Columbia University economics professor Jeffrey Sachs during a panel discussion at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig, Germany.

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However, Gao Honfeng, China’s vice minister of transport, told that same forum that China is acutely aware of the environmental and other hazards posed by the rapid development of its automotive culture.

There’s been a significant price tag for putting the nation on wheels: most notably in the form of paralyzing traffic jams, choking smog and a costly dependence upon foreign sources of energy.