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China moves toward fuel economy standards-tougher than those in the United States

November 23, 2010
The Chinese government is preparing to impose minimum fuel economy standards on new cars for the first time, and the rules, beginning in 2005, will be significantly more stringent than those in the United States, according to the Chinese experts drafting them. The new standards are intended both to save energy and to force automakers to introduce the latest hybrid engines and other technology in China, in hopes of easing the nation's swiftly rising dependence on oil imports from volatile countries in the Middle East. They are the latest and most ambitious in a series of steps to regulate China's rapidly growing auto industry, after moves earlier this year to require that air bags be provided for both frontseat occupants in most new vehicles and that new family vehicles sold in major cities meet air pollution standards nearly as strict as those in Western Europe and the United States. The new standards are based on a vehicle's weight-lighter vehicles must go the farthest on a gallon-and on the type of transmission, with manual-shift cars required to go farther than those with automatic transmissions. In a major departure from American practice, all new SUVs and minivans in China must meet the same standards as automatic-shift cars of the same weight. The new rules do not cover pickups or commercial trucks. Some popular vehicles now built in China by Western automakers do not measure up to the pending standards and may have to be modified.