I write about cars because I love cars. I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm, and there are a great many things to hate about cars. Cost, maintenance, pollution, congestion, the list goes on. Historically though, cars have represented a sort of coming-of-age. When you can afford a car, especially a brand new one, you’ve “made it” in a sense. Car ownership, along with home ownership, has been a tenant of life in America for at least 60 years. But as people in America begin to shy away from the automobile, people in other countries are beginning to embrace it.
Like China. In 2009, for the first time ever, Chinese consumers bought more cars than Americans, and it is a trend that will see an ever-widening gap. A report over at the The Truth About Cars says that China is about to enter an automobile buying boom, and conservative reports place annual car sales at 35 million a year by 2030. The more likely figure though is that China could be buying 50 million cars. Is that a good thing?
I’ve heard the term “the Chinese century” thrown around a few books and magazines. Basically, China will be to the 21st century what America was to the 20th. Think what you will of that notion; the idea of 50 million cars sold annually in China is scary, and at the same time, hopeful. Let’s tackle the scary side first.
As TTAC puts it, the golden rule of marketing is take demand for bikes and motorcycles in China, and apply that to cars. That is where the 50 million autos a year by 2030 comes from. And even at that rate, it would take over a decade to approach the level of car ownership in many developed countries like Poland (which has about 500 cars per 1000 people). That is a lot of cars. Those cars will need a lot of oil, which will produce a lot of emissions. And let’s not even consider the congestion problems or the effects it will have on world wide oil prices.
So how could this be good? China doesn’t have its head in the sand; they know oil is on the way out. China could become the catalyst for the greening of cars if they make and enforce alternative fuel standards. If car buyers in China want electric cars, automakers are going to deliver electric cars to that market. That, in turn, could influence the way the rest of the world drives. China isn’t likely going to be able to afford the amount of oil they’ll need to keep moving; they will have to turn to other options. Greener options. TTAC reports that China should sell about 100,000 hybrid vehicles in 2010, as well as 30,000 all-electric and 10,000 hydrogen vehicles. Those numbers could rise to 1 million, 300,000, and 20,000 by 2015.
Source: The Truth About Cars | Image: Xinhua
Chris DeMorro is a car enthusiast, blogger, and all-around crazy man who is as passionate about hybrids as he is about Hemis. You can follow his constant misadventures at ThreeMonthsInAMustang.com.