The Chinese Government should offer favorable policies for diesel-engine cars and encourage the consumption of diesel.
Feng Fei, vice-director of the Industry Economy Department of the Development Research Center of the State Council, an important think-tank, said at the second China (International) Forum on Environment and Development sponsored by the All-China Environment Federation yesterday: "Many countries have attached high importance to advanced diesel technology in the past 15 years and China should keep pace with the world."
He pointed out that many regions in China still have policy and regulation curbs on diesel. "And many domestic diesel producing enterprises are not optimistic about the diesel market in China."
In contrast, foreign companies such as Honeywell and Bosch, eyeing the rosy prospect of the strategic Chinese market and planning to cash in on it, have launched massive campaigns to promote the development of advanced diesel.
In the meantime, Feng urged that the tax on fuel oil should be adopted in China "as soon as possible," to encourage more consumers to turn to diesel-powered automobiles, because diesel is more cost-effective and produces less pollutants.
The scholar also advised the government to consider different tax rates towards gasoline and diesel, in a bid to give more preferential policies to diesel.
He said his suggestions are based on development in Western countries in recent years, as well as diesel's good performance in energy efficiency.
With diesel being able to lower fuel consumption by 20 to 30 percent and reduce emissions by 90 percent, diesel autos have enjoyed a strong market presence in Western countries.
In 2004, 50 percent of new cars were powered by diesel in European countries. And in France, Italy and Germany, diesel-engine sedans account for 72, 66 and 43 percent respectively, of the sedan market.
Furthermore, sales volumes of diesel-powered cars in the United States increased by 56 percent in 2004.
Feng also stressed, diesel technology has gained remarkable effects in saving energy in China, where there is still bigger market potential to explore.
"However, only 0.2 percent of sedans in China are diesel-powered," he said.
Statistics also indicate, during the first quarter of this year, diesel-engine cars only accounted for 1.3 percent of the newly registered cars in China.
"While in the European Union, the contrast is striking," he said, "The figure is 50 percent."
To leverage the gap, Feng suggested that the diesel quality in China should substantially improve, as the sulphur content of diesel in China is much higher than that of European countries.
"More innovations should be enhanced," Feng said.
Presently, only seven enterprises are engaged in producing diesel engines in China.
(China Daily June 19, 2006)