Iran, China mull ban on fossil fuel cars, motorcycles

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By Nasir Mahmood

KARACHI: There is no scope for electric vehicles in Pakistan in the near future. Automobile experts and engineers made the forecast to a query from ‘National Courier’ with reference to the latest development in two neighbouring countries of Iran and China where electric motorcycles and cars are being introduced rapidly. They disclosed that hybrid vehicles of Toyota and Honda brands have miserably failed in Pakistan what to mention of the only electric vehicles. The sources quoted that Pakistan produced more than 2.4 million motorcycles last year by over 100 local assemblers. Production of motorcycles in Iran has declined sharply in recent years and more than 200 companies have been forced to down their shutters and send thousands of workers home. They said during the past decade more than 85% of motorbike producers had no option but to call it quits. From the total 240 manufacturing companies 10 years ago the number has dwindled to 25. During the first five months of the current fiscal that started in March less than 40,000 units were produced – down 86% compared to the same period last year. The huge drop in motorcycle production is partly due to the introduction of new regulations. Last October, the government of President Hassan Rouhani put an end to production of carburetor-equipped motorcycles. The move was part of the administration’s efforts to cut production of vehicles and motorcycles notorious for high emission and fuel consumption. One of the main rulings introduced by the government in this regard was a ban on production of carburetor-equipped vehicles (introduced in 2003). However, up until 2016 motorbikes were exempted from the general ruling. According to observers, imported motorbikes are now dominant and are getting gradually more popular. The Iran government has plans to offer local companies incentives and encourage them to focus on electric bikes. Electric motorbikes have become trendy in Iran with government bodies offering incentives for their production and universities conducting research on design and improving the power and life of batteries. Tehran City Council, saddled with the unending problem of air and noise pollution plus the torturous traffic congestion in the capital, is offering grants to people wanting to buy electric motorbikes. On the other hand, China, the world’s biggest auto market, is considering a ban on fossil fuel cars in a major boost to the production of electric vehicles as it seeks to ease pollution. The move would follow similar plans announced by France and Britain to outlaw the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 to clamp down on harmful emissions. The Chinese government has stressed that enterprises should strive to improve the level of energy saving for traditional cars, and vigorously develop new energy vehicles according to assessment requirements. China produced and sold more than 28 million vehicles last year, according to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers. The sale of new energy vehicles topped 500,000 in the world’s second largest economy in 2016, over 50 percent more than the previous year, according to national industry figures. The government introduced in June a draft regulation to compel automakers to produce more electrically-powered vehicles by 2020 through a complex quota system. As the measure looms, foreign auto makers have announced plans to boost the production of electric cars in China. Volvo will introduce its first 100-percent electric car in China in 2019, while Ford will market its first hybrid vehicle in early 2018 and envisions 70 percent of all Ford cars available in China will have electric options by 2025.

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