Working Paper

Passenger car fuel-efficiency standards in China and the US: Stringency and technology, 2020–2025

China’s leaders are determined to ensure that China’s domestic auto industry is world-class. Technology upgrades were one of the top priorities in China’s auto industrial strategic plan for the coming decade. The plan proposes an average fuel consumption target of 5L/100km for new passenger cars by 2020, aiming to accelerate advances in fuel-efficiency technologies. But some have raised concerns about feasibility, future technology options, and the costs of meeting that proposed target.

This paper summarizes technology pathways leading to compliance with the US 2020–2025 light-duty vehicle GHG and fuel-economy standards, and compares the standard stringency and recent technology trends the US and China. The comparison suggests that the proposed 2020 target in China is less stringent than that of the US. The paper further demonstrates the difference in baseline technology and technology trends between the US and China, and illustrates why Chinese regulators need to secure the 5L/100km goal. Although it is not clear what compliance flexibilities will be allowed for the 2020 standard in China, this paper assumes that the 5L/100km will be met purely by improving the efficiency of new gasoline passenger cars, without applying compliance credits (such as super credits for electric vehicles) or credits for off-cycle fuel saving.