28 Million Cars Sold in China

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I heard that this morning, that China is the largest market for autos in the world and all of the talk about hybrids, electric, the Chinese skipping the pitfalls of the internal combustion engine to advance to cleaner technologies was all pie-in-the-sky dreaming. Same with India. They want cars. They want them now. They want them cheap. They don't care about pollution. They don't care about congestion. The car is so human an animal. In the way dogs are the perfect pet, so attuned to our whims, so is the car the perfect mode of human transport and it will make the problems we have to face in the near future that much more difficult.

 

 I don't have a car and when I look back on my life I wish I never did. Cars were awful for me. Expensive, worrisome, complicated, and I love the bike, my sole means of transport for the last three years, but yesterday, feeling tired, having to get on the bike to travel to where I needed to go, I pined for a car as they roared past me. Oh to only have to turn a key and push a pedal to get to the library, not to have to climb all of those hills, and sweat bullets. Not to have to plan what to take with me, but to throw it all into the car and go. I felt exhausted.

 

But then I stumbled upon a box of clothes, and in those clothes were a pair of blue jeans that fit me like a glove, and shirts with the initials of my old painting company on them, ESP, Emery Smith Painting, and I had a good laugh on a slow ride with my backpack full of acquisitions. And today as I rode through the park, I stumbled upon a bag of buds, choice stuff that some kid must have dropped last night in the dark.

 

Yeah, I love the rides on empty streets when traffic dies away. I love the cart I've built and the bike I have to repair just about constantly. I love all of the stuff I find. But mostly I love the fact that I'm not contributing to the insanity of the car culture, a drive until we drown mentality promoted by the status quo. I never saw the car as a rite of adulthood. It struck me as immature and self-defeating. I don't like listening to music all day as if the world needs to be watered down by the thumpa-thumpa of a band. I like the world too much to not want to hear what it has to say. I like the world too much not to give it some of my sweat and my time.     

Comments

mark henry smith Added Jul 29, 2017 - 1:09pm
There is a place for the car. I'm not saying there's not. Just not every place.
George N Romey Added Jul 29, 2017 - 3:24pm
If, and that's a big if. China can grows it middle class it will look different than ours. The Chinese will be content with smaller houses and smaller cars, etc.-at least for awhile.  Setting aside environmental concerns, Jingping is intent on taking China from a low wage country to a country of widespread prosperity.  He had a tall order but its doable, particularly given the work ethic of the Chinese. The US on the other hand will continue to choke on consumerism.
Leroy Added Jul 29, 2017 - 5:49pm
If any place can implement electric cars, it is China.  The government can do it by decree.  And, it has the incentive.  The first and second tier cities are heavy polluted from car emissions.  Shanghai tries to control the number of cars by limiting the number of license plants and implementing a bidding system to make it too expensive to operate a car.  I paid just under $10,000 for a license plate.  It hasn't worked.  It just made people want cars more for the prestige.
Leroy Added Jul 29, 2017 - 6:08pm
"If, and that's a big if. China can grows it middle class it will look different than ours. The Chinese will be content with smaller houses and smaller cars, etc.-at least for awhile.  Setting aside environmental concerns, Jingping is intent on taking China from a low wage country to a country of widespread prosperity.  He had a tall order but its doable, particularly given the work ethic of the Chinese. The US on the other hand will continue to choke on consumerism."
 
You're right, George; it will look different from ours.  The Chinese are big on conspicuous consumption.  If you have it, you flaunt it.  Aside from that, you don't seem to be aware of Chinese culture.
 
The Chinese rarely live in houses.  It is most apartments.  Maybe in the country side you will find houses.  They buy the biggest apartment and car they can afford.  Despite earning about a sixth of their American counterparts at the time, the parking lot at work was filled with Mercedes and BMW's and SUVs.  You might find a few Chinese branded cars, but not many.
 
There is already prosperity in the first and second tier cities.  The challenge is in the smaller cities.  In cities like Shanghai, you will come across Lambroginies on the back streets every few blocks.
 
The work ethic of Chinese in general is get it "close enough".  It is not a precision culture.  Quality is literally a foreign concept.  Products sold  in the US that are made in China are of a higher quality that those sold in China.  Working in China is like working with unions in the US.  It is ok to take a nap on the job.  Engineers are generally better educated, but not better.  The Chinese you see in the US are genrally the best of the best and they do not represent the Chinese you find in China.  There are hard workers in China, but it is not as common as what you will find in the US.
John G Added Jul 29, 2017 - 7:00pm
China is losing manufacturing jobs faster than the US ever did. The transition to a higher wage consumer economy is accelerating.
Those hopeless lefties eh?
Saint George Added Jul 30, 2017 - 11:34pm
The first and second tier cities are heavy polluted from car emissions. 
 
Electric cars might reduce emissions from the cars themselves but they won't reduce overall air pollution coming from the manufacture of the batteries.
Katharine Otto Added Jul 31, 2017 - 11:05am
Mark Henry,
The US government has so subsidized the private automobile industry to the detriment of mass transit, that a car becomes almost mandatory.  Good for you, if you live within biking distance of most of the places you need to go, and are healthy enough to use that mode, but you are an exception.
 
Urban sprawl, thanks to roads and real-estate development, has created a climate of over-dependence on the car, but I believe that is changing. Many people simply can't afford cars anymore (initial cost, payments, maintenance, gas, tags, insurance, parking), and lack of transportation is a major deterrent to employment.  
 
People are touting electric cars, as if they are an improvement on the pollution problem.  No, no, no, no. Electric cars need to be re-charged, and how does that happen?  Plugged into the grid, of course, which is a most inefficient use of electricity (DC to AC to DC).  It will give the utilities way more power than they have now, and everyone will pay for more power plants, including nuclear, more grid, access roads, power lines, etc.
 
I'm a big fan of public transportation, making better use of what we have now and would also like to see a revival of passenger rail, even with car-cars for long distances.  Where I live, bus service is sub-standard, with user-unfriendly routes and schedules, and is notoriously un-reliable.  
Saint George Added Jul 31, 2017 - 9:18pm
I agree with Nobel laureate economist Vernon L. Smith on transportation: he wants to see a lot more privatization of roads and highways.
mark henry smith Added Aug 2, 2017 - 12:54pm
Thanks all,
 
What people fail to recognize is that we're living at the end of the automobile age and what is going on in the developing world is a last gasp of an industry that has outlived its usefulness. Not that it's not useful, but the costs to society are becoming staggering.
 
The idea of charging enormous fees for registering cars is what has been done in Japan and has been successful in reducing traffic, but to have that work you need a convenient, reasonably priced mass-transit system in place that can handle the transit burden.
 
 My thought is that eventually most highways will be used by trucks to move goods and personal transport by private auto will be a thing of the past. All kinds of new technologies will be developed to handle the journeys of private individuals, from drones to electric motor assisted bikes with carts.  

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