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chinese car consumption

December 31, 2009

only few have noted the consequences of rising rates of chinese motorization in specific, and consumption in general. i’m glad william fault, an op-ed contributor to the ny times notes this phenomenon in his summary of important events of 2010, but i wish he would emphasize an implication other than rising consumption of oil and gas: uburbanization, social inequality and strife, spatial inefficiency on already crowded streets, environmental degradation and air pollution… many more important things than rising oil and gas consumption.

CAR CRAZY IN CHINA This year, China surpassed the United States as the largest consumer of that iconic American machine the automobile. China’s emerging middle class has fallen in love with cars, with sales up more than 40 percent over 2008; there are now long waiting lists for the coolest and hottest models, ranging from the Buick LaCrosse to BMWs. Automakers are expected to sell 12.8 million cars and light trucks in China this year, 2.5 million more than in America.

China’s auto boom, of course, has major implications for global efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The nation of 1.3 billion is on pace to double its consumption of gasoline and diesel over the next decade.

below i have attached a slightly dated graph (that i used in my qualifying paper on bicycle transportation in china) demonstrating the transition to the chinese surpassing the us in domestic auto consumption. it is important to note that this came much earlier than analysts had predicted because: declining auto purchases in western nations due to the financial crisis and the related recession and china’s seeming immunity to the effects of the global recession.


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