China establishes its first-ever fuel-efficiency standards for cars

Attempting to combat its growing dependence on oil imports, China is set to establish fuel-efficiency standards for cars, SUVs, and vans for the first time. The standards are identical to those in a draft circulated last November, about which the auto industry strenuously complained, claiming they were too strict. One thing about a communist dictatorship, though — it’s not particularly responsive to criticism. So the industry is more or less resigned to meeting the standards; Volkswagen, which dominates the Chinese car market, even went so far as to say that it “views China’s new gas-mileage policy as a positive step towards modern fuel economy and addressing the ecological impact of its rapidly growing car population and economy.” The standards are set to go into effect in two phases. In the first phase, the SUV and minivan standards will be more strict than those in the U.S.; in the second phase, set to start in 2008, the standards will be, well, way more strict than those in the U.S.