SHANGHAI, CHINA – As China struggles to choose the best powertrain for future vehicles, an influential minister has gone cold on clean diesel in favour of gasoline hybrids and electric drive trains, the Automotive News said on Wednesday.
“Minister Wan is very much in favor of hybrid technology because he sees it as a bridge to electric cars – the medium- to long-term solution to vehicle power in China,” the newspaper said citing the adviser, who declined to be identified.
He was referring to Wan Gang, China’s science and technology minister.
“Diesel is now frowned upon because of issues with China’s refining capacity and the need to guarantee fuel for farmers,” he was quoted as saying.
China needs alternative energy vehicles to tackle its twin problems of choking pollution and dependence on imported oil.
Among competing technologies, clean diesel offers similar improvements in fuel efficiency to electric-hybrid cars, but at lower cost.
However, mass use of diesel in cars puts pressure on scarce supplies allocated to farmers, whose contentment is deemed necessary for social stability. And supplying high-quality, pure diesel fuel would require revamping outdated national oil refineries at a cost of hundreds of billions of yuan, the report said.
The Chinese ministry aims for mass use of electric cars and sees hybrid vehicles as the bridge, it added, citing the adviser.
Previously, we didn’t get any reasoning from the Chinese government as to why they had chosen hybrid drive trains over diesel ones. Many people thought it was down to hard lobbying from the Japanese auto makers who have a vested interest in hybrids, where as European makers who have achieved a high level of clean diesel technology, as well as economy, notably VW who just so happen to be one of the biggest (if not the biggest) automaker in China. Also, China plans to make bio-diesel, and Beijing banned diesel car sales.