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Li Shufu: Strict emission standards should be issued as home brands are ready | March 22, 2013 17:00
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Frequently appearing during the National People's Congress and the Chinese Political Consultative Conference (NPC & CPPCC), Li Shufu, member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the Chairman of the Geely Holding Group, remains a media hotspot.

Just after 8:00 am of March 3, inside a conference hall at the North Third Ring Road of Beijing, Li gave a news press on three proposals he brought, two of which were "old topics"—A Proposal on Air Quality Legislation and Proposal on Raising Threshold of Personal Income Tax and Pushing Forward Reform of Personal Income Tax, while the last one was Proposal on Establishment of Unified Taxi Market Access Standard and System which is closely related to people's daily travel.

Car companies should refrain from being pollution sources
"What I am concerned about might be similar to that of the whole country and even the whole world. I'm going to talk about the old topics of 'three big mountains'—water pollution, soil contamination and air pollution," says Li bluntly. Speaking of frequent fog haze weather in many areas, many people simply blame cars as the culprit; Li, however, thinks differently.

"Our existing laws did not take effect on air quality assuring as expected. The necessary laws in place will promise us not only legal basis to address the pollution but also the clean air true to its name." Li says.

As he explains, although China has formulated the 1990 Environmental Protection Law and the 2000 Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act, these laws remain less changed for 23 years and 13 years to date respectively. "We need recheck, revise and improve these laws to clarify duties and responsibilities, so that we can genuinely act on a legal basis."
Li also proposes to raise the cost of carbon emissions. "The State Environmental Protection Department should act in accordance with laws on air quality and conduct real-time monitoring and annual assessment of the air quality in all areas across the country. And after that, the Department should set up the carbon emission trading market based on the total carbon emission and raise the cost for those less satisfactory areas.

"What auto companies should do is to refrain themselves from being pollution sources of air pollution," Li adds, "Engine emission standards should be raised. We need to take initiatives to reach Europe No. V and VI standards and step into the filed of hybrid or blade electric vehicles to reduce vehicle exhaust emissions."
Strict rules should be issued as soon as home brands are ready
Speaking of recent Beijing Standard V and National Standard V (both emission standards), Li approves these high standards, but he also showed his concerns, "the (emission) standards are determined too easily, posing challenges to independent auto companies."
"The execution of high emission standards is very favorable to foreign auto companies that have all necessary technologies, but otherwise for self-owned brands." Li says, "Criteria and schedule for enforcing these standards need to be publicized in advance, so that independent brand auto companies could compete on an equal footing, otherwise it will hurt them."

It is understood that Geely has accelerated the development of new models to cope with the National Standard V, and five models have reached such standards so far.

According to Li, raising automobile exhaust emission standards brings much benefit to reduce air pollution. "In the short term some vehicles will be phased out due to poor emission performance, but in the long run, this measure is conducive to the overall development of the auto industry." Li also expressed that automakers ought to actively identify causes of exhaust pollutions and find solutions through developing green cars, electric and hybrid for example.

Recent news came that Geely and Dongfeng Motor were competing for acquisition of Fisker, a US new energy sports car company. Li did not turn back from this issue, "Geely has invested much in electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles, where many other companies around the globe act quite impressively. We would like to see if there is an opportunity to seek cooperation, mergers and acquisitions." 

Unify taxi market standards

In early February, Geely made an acquisition of the business and core assets of Manganese Bronze Holdings (MBH) for $17.44 million. As the manufacturer of the iconic London Black Cab, this company has been attracting Li Shufu from the very first moment.

"It seems that I have ulterior motives when submitting this taxi proposal, which in fact is not." Li explained when asked whether there was any relevance between his Proposal on Establishment of Unified Taxi Market Access Standard and System and the acquisition of MBH. "The taxies in UK cost five hundred to six hundred thousands yuan—too expensive for China. However, when I talked with the Mayor of London and the Minister of Transport, I got some inspiration."

Li claimed to be reflecting on the differences of travel modes between London citizens and their Chinese peers. "In London, people are more willing to travel by taxi, but in China, people like driving themselves." After these investigations, he comes to his own conclusion "compared with London, China has a poor taxi standards indeed."

"Now in cities each company has its own fleet and parking lot while taking cab becomes something that is less decent. If relevant standards on taxies are raised, city transportation will be much improved by these taxies."

Li insists on a professional standard established in China, which is marked by strict, uniform and mandatory. In this way can taxiing experience be improved and people will be more likely to travel by public transport, which is not only environmentally friendly but helps reduce traffic jams. We should learn from London and make cities dependent on taxies." 

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