Chinese Government Urged To Buy Chinese. At Least A Bit More

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

If you are stuck in Beijing traffic, while police closes the center lane to give preferential treatment to a government motorcade, you will notice a penchant for foreign brands amongst Chinese government officials: White license plates (= government) are usually found on bigger bore Audis, BMWs, and Mercedeses (or “Benz” as they are called in China.) After all, they are made in China in joint ventures, and only petty people will point out that an Audi A8, a Volkswagen Touareg, or a Benz S Class are imports.

The tastes are about to change, albeit not too drastically.



Chinese authorities are publicly thinking about new regulations to increase the ratio of domestic brand cars to more than 50 percent in government procurement of official cars, reports Xinhua. The government is the biggest customer of cars in China, with an annual budget of around $15b. The total value of official-car purchase is 8 percent of the total value of car sales in China.

Not only are government officials being asked to buy Chinese. They are also urged not to splurge.

Under the proposed regulation, ordinary vehicles of all government departments nationwide should have an engine displacement of up to 1.8 liters and cost less than $23,500.

Ministers and provincial heads should make do with an engine displacement of up to 3.0 liters and a price below $66,000.

Domestic car manufactures welcomed the new regulations, saying they will be given a boost by the change. We’ll keep an eye on Beijing’s center lanes to monitor whether the new regulations will make a difference. Others are watching as well. So far, China’s Procurement Center of the Central People’s Government (PCCG) has deemed 721 vehicles as excessive or extravagant. A drop in the bucket, we’d say.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Tosh Tosh on Dec 31, 2009

    I'm too lazy to look it up myself: Where is China on pollution control? Isn't their dirty car exhaust their biggest health threat?

    • Psmisc Psmisc on Dec 31, 2009

      Cars are actually a small contributor. It's mostly coal plants, construction sites, and two-stroke engine scooters. Also China doesn't have expensive clean diesel, so as to keep food prices low (that's why they're a big pusher of hybrid and electric drivetrains). They are also currently building subways and nuclear plants like mad.

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Jan 01, 2010

    drivebywire: Interesting point. Whether Volvo will count as a "domestic brand" remains to be seen. Volvo will be owned by the Hong Kong holding company of Geely. Technically, Hong Kong is regarded as "overseas" - Chinese nationals need a visa to get into HK, and a lot of the "foreign investment" into China flows via Hong Kong. If Volvo counts as "domestic," then a privately owned car company (Geely) could sell cars unencumbered to the government, whereas government-owned companies engaged in joint ventures (such as SAIC, FAW, Brilliance, BAIC) would be restricted by the new regulations. We'll see how that works out.

    Tosh: Big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have enacted tough regimens. Can't enter with anything less than Euro 4, which is quite good. Stinkers are being euthanized en masse. The air quality drastically improved last year. As mentioned by psmisc, cars are now a small contributor.

  • Ronin The very asking of the question "Are Plug-In Hybrids the Future?" is an interesting one. Because just 2 or 3 years ago we'd be asking- no, asserting- that E cars are the future. We're no longer asking that question.
  • Peter Benn There apparently were some K-code 4-dr sedan Fairlanes. Collectible Automobile Apr 2024 has found a '63 500 with HD 3/spd.
  • Mia Hey there!I recently stumbled upon the Crack Eraser DIY Windshield Repair Kit (check it out here: https://crackeraser.com/collections/diy-windshield-repair-kits) and decided to give it a shot on a small chip in my windshield. I have to say, it worked like a charm! Super easy to use, and it saved me a trip to the professionals. If you're dealing with a similar issue, this kit is definitely worth considering. 😊
  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
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