Beijing pressures car makers to improve efficiency

The Chinese government is putting pressure on automakers to improve energy efficiency, but consumers are increasingly interested in large luxury cars, the New York Times reported car firm bosses as saying at the opening of the Beijing auto show.

The shift of towards larger vehicles, driven in part by rising incomes among China’s elite, is likely to push up the country’s demand for

imported oil and make China an even bigger emitter of greenhouse gases, the report said. For the first two months of 2008, sales of
sport utility vehicles (SUVs) in China were up 38%, the report said, and sales of luxury cars climbed 30% compared with the corresponding
period a year ago. By contrast, overall sales of cars, SUVs and minivans rose 16%.

The Chinese government has been demanding that automakers produce electric cars and hybrids, and the chairman of General Motors was quoted saying that the country’s ability to enact government decisions made it one of the best places to introduce new, green technologies. But, the report said, auto executives are not optimistic that Chinese consumers will pay considerably more for cars with hybrid engines and other alternative propulsion technologies.

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