China weighs ban on vehicles using fossil fuels
Source: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2017-09/12/content_31889278.htm. Updated: 12 September, 2017
With China announcing a plan to eventually end the production and sale of vehicles powered entirely by fossil fuels, domestic and foreign-owned automakers are expected to be even more aggressive in developing electric and alternative vehicles for the world's largest car market.
The Xinhua news agency on Sept 9 cited China's vice-minister of industry as saying that China is studying when to ban the production and sale of cars that use only traditional fuels. Xin Guobin didn't release a specific date when such a ban would occur, Xinhua reported.
In April, General Motors Co said it would launch 10 electric and gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles in China by 2020. Last month, GM introduced the two-seat E100 comes from GM's Chinese joint-venture brand, Baojun, and costs around $5,300. It has a range of 96 miles per charge and a top speed of 62 mph.
Ford Motor Company said last month that it was exploring a joint venture with electric car maker Anhui Zotye Automobile Co to build a new brand under which the electric vehicles will be sold. Both firms will hold a 50-50 stake in the JV, it said
Other auto producers like Tesla Inc, Volkswagen AG, Honda and Nissan Motor Co also have announced aggressive plans to make and sell electric vehicles in China.
Among domestic manufacturers, Warren Buffett-backed BYD led in sales in the first seven months of this year, delivering 46,855 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, according to the China Passenger Car Association.
"Chinese authorities are looking to fast track new energy vehicle (NEV) sales, but despite subsidies the growth in volume in the NEV segment amounts to just around 1.8 percent of the total vehicle market in China so far this year. The authorities are beginning to look for tougher and more stringent ways to strengthen the NEV segment," wrote Namrita Chow, principal automotive analyst of IHS Markit in an email.
Noting the lack of a specific timetable for the elimination of fossil-fuel powered vehicles, Chow said "at this point in time it is just rhetoric regarding the complete ban of (internal combustion engine) vehicles in China, there is no time line and no policy implying this is at all imminent."
Arthur Wheaton, an automotive expert with Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, said that because the Chinese auto market is the largest in the world, all global auto companies will attempt to meet whatever policies are in place to continue in the market.
"The policy of outlawing all internal combustion engines for sale in China would be extremely challenging," he said in an email.
SAIC, BAIC, Geely, Changan are among the Chinese auto companies that could capitalize if the ban is implemented said Wheaton.
Those companies and others have significant partnerships with global manufacturers and their joint-ventures would be crucial to ramping up capacity to meet the needs, he added.
Wheaton doesn't anticipate a ban happening soon.
"I am pessimistic this policy will be implemented fully for decades. I think the phasing in of increasing (the) number of electric vehicles is more likely and the slower pace would help Chinese auto makers build expertise to meet the demand gradually with help from their joint-venture partners," said Wheaton.
EU UNEMPLOYMENT: DECLINING, BUT DEPENDENT ON LABOUR MOBILITY
Britain’s exit from the EU could slow down Europe’s economic growth. However, unemployment forecasts remain positive. The latest Eurostat figures show that the number of jobless has been steadily declining.
Towards the end of 2016, record employment levels were reported in Germany and the Czech Republic. Britain, contrary to expectations, is doing well, too. However, the situation is not uniform, across the bloc.
However, the situation is not uniform, across the bloc. Unemployment is still a major problem in the southern EU, though, where it rises into the double digits.
The European Union has faced one fundamental challenge after another over the last ten years. As soon as it overcame the financial crisis of 2007–2008, caused by a mortgage bubble in the US, there was the eurozone crisis of 2011–2013, due to high debt in Greece, Italy and other countries, followed by the refugee crisis of 2015–2016.
With the exception the refugee crisis, all of the last decade’s crises strongly affected the European Union’s economic growth, increasing unemployment.
At the beginning of 2017, the EU is facing other economic challenges. Primarily it is the unpredictable policy of US President Donald Trump. Among other things, Trump wants to withdraw from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The economic consequences of Brexit will also certainly play a negative role.
Therefore, last November the European Commission estimated this year’s economic growth in the EU to only reach 1.5%, and the estimated figures are also very similar (two-tenths of a per cent higher) in 2018. Unemployment estimates, however, are positive.
“I consider the impact of the potential rejection of the TTIP by the US administration to be a significant risk factor,” says Czech economist Petr Zahradník. “Especially by thwarting developmental opportunities that could lead to the emergence of new jobs. Although the labour market in the EU has improved quite considerably over the last year, there are still many countries with high double-digit unemployment rates,” adds Zahradník.
According to the data released in January by Eurostat, these include primarily Greece (23.1%), Spain (19.2%), Cyprus (14.2%) and Italy (11.9%). The opposite end of the list features the United Kingdom (4.8%), Germany (4.1%) and the Czech Republic (3.7%), which currently has the lowest unemployment in the EU.
Read more: EU unemployment: Declining, but dependent on labour mobility