White paper

New light commercial vehicles in China, 2010: Technology assessment and international comparisons

This paper assesses fuel consumption and fuel-efficiency technology adoption in China’s light commercial vehicle (LCV) market in 2010, focusing on the differences among vehicle sub-categories and manufacturers. It also compares fleet features and technologies in the United States, Europe, and China. The results provide insights that can be used to help develop the next phase of LCV fuel consumption regulation in China.

Compared with passenger cars, China’s LCVs are a smaller market (about 2.7 million new sales in 2010) and have higher per-vehicle fuel consumption. The fleet average fuel consumption in 2010 was 7.7 L/100km for passenger cars and 8.6 L/100km (gasoline equivalent) for LCVs.

A summary of findings:

  • Technology application levels vary among LCV categories and fuel type. In general, N1 vehicles (mini and light trucks) show better fleet-average fuel consumption performance than M2 vehicles (minivans and vans). Diesel M2 vehicles adopt more advanced efficiency technologies, compared to other categories and fuel types.
  • Vehicle characteristics and market profiles of LCVs vary widely among China, the US, and the EU. China’s LCVs on average have smaller engines, lower curb weight, smaller footprint, and less power. Gasoline and diesel LCVs have roughly equal market shares in China, while diesel vehicles dominate the EU LCV fleet (95.6% share) and gasoline vehicles dominate the US light-truck fleet (99%).
  • Compared with N1 diesel LCVs in the EU, China’s N1 diesel fleet has larger engines and smaller average footprint, but fleet-average power is lower by 35%. China’s N1 diesel LCVs use less-advanced engine technologies, such as multi-valve and turbocharging technologies, and have higher (by 19%) combined fuel consumption as well as higher emission levels. In contrast, about 90% of the EU fleet has adopted turbo- or super-chargers, compared with an adoption rate of less than 10% in China. This trend is one of the major factors contributing to lower fuel consumption in Europe.
  • China’s LCV fleet-average fuel consumption is 8.6 L/100km gasoline equivalent under the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test, which translates into 202 g/km CO2. This compares to 11.1 L/100km (264 g/km CO2) in the US and 7.7 L/100km gasoline equivalent (180 g/km CO2) in the EU.
  • China imports no LCVs. Eleven domestic manufacturers account for 80% of China’s 2010 LCV sales. In contrast to passenger cars, joint ventures have only a small share of the Chinese LCV market.
  • Most manufacturers have not adopted advanced efficiency technologies, such as direct injection and turbocharging. Even within a given manufacturer or auto group, technologies used for LCVs tend to be less advanced than those used in passenger cars.
  • In 2010, about 16% of the new LCVs did not meet the fuel consumption standard that will go into effect in 2012. Yet half of the top 10 manufacturers acheived 100% compliance with the current Phase 2 standard, suggesting that more stringent standards need to be established to promote advanced efficiency technologies.