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Authorities mull delay of new emission standards

Hu Yumo
China may postpone the rollout of National VI emission standards in order to further promote car sales in the wake of epidemic-related disruptions.
Hu Yumo

China is considering postponing the implementation of National VI emission standards in areas yet to adopt this stricter rules, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced at a press conference held on Thursday.

The move is considered to cushion car sales during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Wu Xianfeng, a senior official with the ministry, said apart from some 16 provinces and cities including Beijing and Shanghai that have already implemented the new standards, other areas can appropriately extend the transition period for automobile enterprises and allow further sales of National-V-emission-standard inventory vehicles.

The new emission standards were initially set to take effect nationwide from July 1. Compared with the National V standards, the new rules demand substantially fewer pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, and also introduce limits on particulate number and ammonia.

The National VI emission standards have been adopted in certain parts of the country already but not nationwide. They are similar to Euro 6 standards that are currently in place in Europe.

"This outbreak of COVID-19 has had a great impact on the automobile industry," said Wu. "From the perspective of environmental protection, it has mainly affected the supply of auto parts for new vehicles, the certification of new cars and sales of existing-inventory vehicles."

The ministry said that epidemic-hit Hubei Province and Wuhan are among the country's main centers of automobile production, so the impact there is being felt nationwide. Overseas spread has also had an impact on the global automotive supply chain, affecting the country. Under the circumstances, the ministry is mulling to postpone the implementation of National VI standards in some areas of the country.

At present, more than 97 percent of newly produced light vehicles in the Chinese market meet National VI standards.

The industry has been calling for a delay and the China Association of Automobile Manufacturer earlier submitted suggestions for postponement. A delay would give automakers in China more time to sell older models from their inventories and more time to prepare to apply the new rules. 

Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of China Passenger Car Association, said that "the decision is a protective policy for the steady growth of the auto industry. Delaying the implementation of the new emission standards will not slow down automakers' product upgrades, but allows existing inventory to be sold to prevent car dealers from taking huge losses due to low-price sales."

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