China Auto Sales Spiral Down, But This Time It’s Different: Government Refuses to Bail Them Out with Big-Fat Incentives

Here’s why. The strategy is a game changer with global impact.

Geely, China’s largest domestic automaker, disclosed that deliveries plunged 29% in June compared to a year ago, and that they’re down 15% in the first half. And it slashed by another 10% its already lowered forecast for deliveries for the whole year. This type of disclosure is now a regular feature of China’s dramatic auto slowdown.

New-vehicle sales in China dropped 9.4% in June, compared to a year ago, to 2.06 million vehicles, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). It was the 12th month in a row of year-over-year declines. For the first half of 2019, sales were down 12%. If sales continue to decline at this rate, they will drop to 21 million vehicles for the whole year, the lowest since 2014, representing a 15% drop from the peak in 2017 (estimate for 2019 in red):

But the boom had been mind-boggling: From 2005 through 2017, sales sextupled, from 4.0 million vehicles to 24.7 million vehicles. In China’s managed, pump-primed, growth-no-matter-what economy – at least that is what it was – there was not a single year of declines in the data going back to 1991. But that changed in 2018 with a 4.1% decline. And now there is this awful 2019.

During the Financial Crisis years 2009 and 2010, China’s vehicle sales doubled, from 6.8 million in 2008 to 13.8 million in 2010, with annual sales soaring 52.8% in 2009 and 33.2% in 2010, after the government unleashed a torrent of liquidity and incentives to get consumers to buy cars. But 2017 was already a year of near-stagnation (+1.4%), now followed by what will likely be two years of declines in a row:

But “New Energy Vehicles” are booming.

Despite falling overall new-vehicle sales, New Energy Vehicles (NEV) are hot and sales are booming. They include battery-electric vehicles (BEV), plugin hybrids, and fuel-cell vehicles.

In June, NEV sales skyrocketed 80% year-over-year to about 152,000. Of them, 129,000 were BEVs, 22,000 were plug-in hybrids, and a minuscule 484 vehicles were powered by a fuel cell.

In June, BEVs accounted for 6.3% of total new vehicle sales, up from 0% just a few years ago, putting BEVs on track to hit 1 million in sales for the year. Starting to be real numbers!

Where’s the government stimulus everyone is waiting for?

In China, the government runs the show. So if sales fall across an industry the size of China’s auto industry, by far the largest in the world, everyone looks to the government to do something, and come up with some big-fat stimulus package that will put sales back on track, as it had done so miraculously during the Financial Crisis. Everything revolves around incentives. And consumers are well-trained by now to play the game.

Many industry voices, including the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, have exhorted the government to come up with incentives.

And those well-trained consumers waiting for incentives have been disappointed. There are no new incentives on cars with internal combustion engines (ICE). The government has not relaxed the limits on the issuance of license plates for ICE vehicles. And car buyers have to grapple with new emissions standards that 15 cities and provinces – accounting for 60% of new-vehicle sales in China – are implementing ahead of the government-imposed deadline in 2020.

While the government is spurning incentives for ICE vehicles, it is heaping incentives on New Energy Vehicles. Yang Jian, managing editor of Automotive News China, explains that this is the government strategy going forward, and the industry needs to come to grips with it:

The days are gone when China’s leaders pursue economic growth at any cost. When it comes to describing economic policies, the catchphrase used by government officials these days is “switching from old to new economic drivers.”

Under the new approach, traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, in general, are deemed an “old” economic driver that results in air pollution. While they support economic growth, they need to be improved to reduce emissions, the thinking goes. That’s why the central government is pushing China’s cities and provinces to upgrade vehicle emissions standards, ahead of schedule, regardless of the cost to carmakers and dealers.

By contrast, the electrified vehicle sector is seen as a “new” economic driver capable of boosting economic growth without inflicting damage on the country’s environment. Electrified vehicles have won key support from the top echelon of the Chinese government.

The incentives for NEVs, that were adopted in 2016 for a five-year period to encourage innovation and build the industry, are going to be phased out at the end of 2020. These incentives are under a carbon-credit program with quotas for electrified vehicle sales. To get the carbon credits, an automaker has to reach NEV sales equal to 10% of its annual sales in 2019, and 12% in 2020, after which the credits were supposed to end.

Now there are fears that sales of NEVs will plunge after 2020. So this week, the government proposed a new carbon-credit quota program for 2021, 2022, and 2023, with sales targets for NEVs of 14%, 16%, and 18% respectively, along with other changes.

“The proposed changes to the carbon credit program, once implemented, will force automakers to keep ramping up electrified vehicle output beyond 2020,” says Yang Jian.

And the government is unlikely to come to the rescue of overall auto sales “with a heavy dose of incentives,” Yang Jian says, “as long as it can continue to prop up electrified vehicle sales.”

In other words, this is not the era of the Financial Crisis, where the guiding principle was growth-at-all-cost; instead the government will likely let the overall market slow down as long as NEV sales boom. This fits into China’s long-term strategic decision to become the dominant global leader in NEVs and auto-battery systems. And ICE vehicles are left to fend for themselves.

Shadow banks provided 40% of new loans for vehicle purchases in India. Read…   Vehicle Sales Plunge amid India’s Shadow-Bank Debt Crisis & Contagion Fears

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  80 comments for “China Auto Sales Spiral Down, But This Time It’s Different: Government Refuses to Bail Them Out with Big-Fat Incentives

  1. Iamafan
    Jul 11, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    Are we actually in a recession already? So much bad news, really.

    • Jul 11, 2019 at 7:55 pm

      The auto industry is in a recession globally. But the auto industry is only a sliver of the overall economy.

      • Ravi Uppal
        Jul 12, 2019 at 1:34 am

        You are correct to a certain extent . The problem is that negative auto sales have a cumulative negative effect on the upstream industries i.e steel ,rubber ,plastics, glass ,upholstery(textiles) etc and has a disastrous effect on it’s ancillary suppliers who have increased their capacities in view of optimistic projections from the majors . Anyway the world is now already in a recession ( yes the authorities will not say so . The world is now a a ^ bail out ^ economy . The following industries are dead and are never coming back ;
        1. Ship building (Hat Tip MC01)
        2. Commercial aircraft building
        3. Mining (Declining or negative EROEI)
        4. Oil and gas ( Burn cash to produce shale oil)
        Now add to this the auto industry and the world is looking to be bailed out on every front . The financial sector was bailed out in 2008 with TARP and has been under continued bail out with ZIRP and QE . How much and how ling can you keep this up is the question ?

        • Iamafan
          Jul 12, 2019 at 6:07 am

          That’s exactly why the “experts” are crying for a rate cut. They are louder than the Unions asking for a pay raise.
          It’s time we have Democracy again. That’s what America is truly great for. Rights and the opportunity to be at least middle class without going into spiraling debt.

        • Ravi Uppal
          Jul 12, 2019 at 11:20 am

          Continuing with my bailout’s , I live in Belgium .9 out of 10 diamonds pass via Antwerp . Today they give the figures for the 6 months 2019 . Turnover down by 28 % . Who is going to bail these guys out ? May be Elon Musk ? ;-)

        • Ed C
          Jul 15, 2019 at 9:32 pm

          Even despite Boeing’s royal and unforced screw-up the ‘commercial aircraft building’ industry is alive and well. Backlogs go out for years. Try finding an empty seat on any flight you book.

      • drg1234
        Jul 12, 2019 at 10:07 am

        It is assuredly not just the auto industry. Global trade is back down to GFC levels. I would post a chart if I could.

        • Ravi Uppal
          Jul 12, 2019 at 11:24 am

          Iamafan, their is a problem with rate cuts . In the oil industry is a saying ^ Oil above $ 70 per barrel bankrupts the customer and oil below $ 70 per barrel bankrupts the producer ^ . The same is now true for interest rates ^ High interest rates crash the economy and low interest rates crash the banks ^ . Mr Powell is caught between a rock and a hard place .

        • Jul 12, 2019 at 2:43 pm

          drg1234,

          Global trade is NOT “back to GFC levels.” That was a nutty chart that started circulating among people who like to spread the word gospel-like that everything is collapsing. The chart used something like a third-degree derivative or something… I can’t remember, but it looked impressive until you tried to figure out what it said. So for your edification, here is a chart of the CBB’s World Trade Monitor. Note the difference between the true collapse during the Financial Crisis and the slowdown currently underway:

    • Lemko
      Jul 11, 2019 at 10:20 pm

      Singapore just said the global economy is… With a extremely loose credit environment and majority of Central Banks in QE or equivalent to make things even more trippy

      Maybe AT&T can achieve north of 200 Billion in debt after QE5! LOL

      • Paul Goldsmith
        Jul 12, 2019 at 6:24 am

        Just as Governments can go into debt with no repercussions if defaulting…big corporations have shown the same…ATT can file for bankruptcy and still operate…

        • Eustis Beauregard Lee
          Jul 12, 2019 at 12:51 pm

          Yes, but what happens to equity investors in a co that is undergoing bankruptcy, and what are the derivative impacts for equity valuations? Second order derivative impact on pension underfunding? EPIC blowup coming. Only question is whether it is the individuals (hyperinflation) or the nation states (fiat currency crisis leading to .gov employees walking off jobs) that get hit the hardest.

        • char
          Jul 12, 2019 at 10:30 pm

          AT&T is not a normal company. Infrastructure needs to be run

  2. Lance Manly
    Jul 11, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Kind of goes with rethinking cars as appliances to do stuff for you. Obviously the way things are headed.

    • alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit
      Jul 13, 2019 at 4:50 pm

      I’m pretty sure that was Henry Ford’s original idea. A car was a thing that could get you from the farm to downtown or to church, etc. An appliance.

      • Ed C
        Jul 15, 2019 at 9:36 pm

        An appliance does the work for you after you turn it on or hit a button. I suppose a self driving car might qualify as an appliance. My Rav4 is not an appliance.

  3. Gorbachev
    Jul 11, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    Cars as an appliance.I used to buy Kenmore,

    now I drive a Rav but wouldn’t be nice to own a jag.

  4. James
    Jul 11, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    1920: Ford ICE automobiles start becoming popular, makes America a mega automobile manufacturer for the rest of the century

    2020: BYD EVs start becoming popular, makes China a mega automobile manufacturer for the rest of the century

    • 2banana
      Jul 11, 2019 at 10:30 pm

      1910. EVs are extremely popular in the United States and outsell ICEs. Battery charging and range are the major issues that ICE steal most of the market.

      2020. EVs are popular in the United States with massive subsidies and tax credits. Battery charging and range are the major issues that ICE steal most of the market.

    • Jul 11, 2019 at 11:34 pm

      That’s how China’s government sees it. The “critical technology” in EVs is the battery. China, Japan, and South Korea dominate the EV-battery sector. US automakers are going to buy this “critical technology” from them :-]

      • RD Blakeslee
        Jul 12, 2019 at 8:38 am

        … and critical to using the battery is charging it. Does not China’s policy substitute electrical grid powerplant emissions for pollution from ICE vehicle exhausts?

        • Jul 12, 2019 at 9:24 am

          RD Blakeslee,

          See my comment below on China’s efforts to build out its power generating capacity with nuclear, renewables (hydro, solar, wind), and natural gas.

        • Craig
          Jul 14, 2019 at 12:22 am

          Powerplants with their large chimneys push the noxious emissions further from the ground level where people are breathing and dilute them over a larger volume of air. (This is why steam locomotives are exempt from some of the more stringent air quality measures)

          Plus power plants tend to be away from major residential areas,whereas cars have to drive about in those in order to function properly.

          Since China gov pays for healthcare,they will benefit from the savings of an electric transition with lower asthma rates and the like.

      • Prairies
        Jul 12, 2019 at 2:32 pm

        I can’t wait, it will be weird watching China slap tariffs on USA for IP theft of battery tech. There always has to be something to fight over.

        Just a hunch, but I think we will see it happen.

    • Iamafan
      Jul 12, 2019 at 6:58 am

      I wonder who is truly getting hurt more.

      China builts cars for itself. I’ve never seen a Chinese car outside Chinese- sphere. Not even around Southeast Asia. Otoh, Japan and So. Korea relies on exporting cars.

      Considering the ugly global trade conditions and carmaggedon in the USA, should Japan and So. Korea be hurting more? China probably has the largest domestic demand and their debt shows it. China is the only country that can produce a miracle yet the whole democratic world is now fast to bash China and the China story.

      I have a simple test. Drive to your airport and compare that to China, Japan, So. Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. Now tell me what third world means.

      • Nicko2
        Jul 12, 2019 at 7:26 am

        Plenty of Chinese cars in Africa…..and China is busy signing cooperatives agreements, opening Chinese car factories in several key African countries.

      • quack
        Jul 12, 2019 at 10:13 pm

        Russia is buying Chinese cars in big numbers.

  5. nick kelly
    Jul 11, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    I am skeptical about China’s EV push being based on pollution concerns.
    Electricity in China is mostly from coal and its claims to have banned new coal plants are a fabrication. In 2018 it created coal- fired generation equivalent to the US installed base. There is no such thing as an environmental impact study.

    China has lots of low- grade thermal coal. It does not have much oil and imported 30 billion from Saudi Arabia alone in 2018. SA was the largest source but all Gulf producers contributed.

    But there is one pollution advantage to using coal to supply EVs: you can produce the electricity a long way from the capital and other cities, step it up to 150 K volts and ship it hundreds of miles to those cities.

    Problem solved?

    • Paulo
      Jul 11, 2019 at 10:02 pm

      “Exactly”, said the observer on the other side of the aquarium. Kind of modeled on the reduction of C02 by western corporations/countries (the two words are interchangeable) by offshoring industry to China in the first place.

    • char
      Jul 11, 2019 at 10:52 pm

      Aren’t the coalfields near Beijing?

      I think you are right that oil is the most important reason why EV’s are so pushed but pollution is also a major reason

    • Philo Beddoh
      Jul 11, 2019 at 11:39 pm

      Sorta like NYC, rushing to replace scores-of-thousands of mob #4 oil boilers with PA fracked gas, to artificially export carbon footprints for slumlord DNC superdelegates, to leaky well-pads across the Delaware River (soon to be abandoned).

    • Jul 11, 2019 at 11:43 pm

      nick kelly,

      China is exerting a HUGE effort building its natural gas, renewables (solar, wind, hydro), and nuclear power generating capacity. No one in the world comes even close in how much capacity it is adding with these technologies. However, the transition takes a long time. In the US it took 30 years to go from 55% coal to 28% coal because power plants last decades, and they’re not retired when they’re new. But China is into long-term thinking. And when it comes to a national fleet of EVs, you’ve got to work both sides because it also takes decades to create a national fleet that consists largely of EVs. Neither one can be accomplished overnight.

      • caradoc_again
        Jul 12, 2019 at 1:44 am

        Expect they will be working heavily on UCG – underground coal gasification. Still use coal but left in situ and extracted as methane.

        It needs to be done properly else introduces other environmental problems.

        One way to put a wall round your market, be first big mover to EV and tax ICE heavily.

    • RD Blakeslee
      Jul 12, 2019 at 8:42 am

      …and, just as here and elsewhere in the world, the dispersed voices in the countryside are not to worry about.

    • Ed C
      Jul 15, 2019 at 9:44 pm

      Remember ‘acid rain’ in the US from coal and oil burning? The effects are very wide spread so burning coal 100 miles from a city still blankets a wide area. Maybe instead of building up islands for military installations in the seas off China they should be setting up wind farms at sea. I’m rooting for China to make progress with renewable / clean energy generation.

  6. roddy6667
    Jul 11, 2019 at 10:15 pm

    Living in Qingdao now for over 6 years, I have been constantly asking myself (and anybody who will listen) “Where will they park all the cars?”
    All the on-street parking is used up. It’s a major project to find a spot now. Most people in urban China live in mid- and high-rises. Every newer building has an underground parking garage, but it is limited. When parking spots became available for our home under construction in 2010, they were $22,000 US. Just for a parking spot. Now they are over $50,000 US. This is typical. You can pay for parking by the month, but it won’t be near your home.
    I don’t see the huge future for individually owned EV’s that many outsiders see. More likely they will be sold to rental companies that are springing up everywhere. There are rental plaza’s in residential areas, at gas stations, hotels, etc. You rent an EV by the hour or day with a phone app like ZipCar. You return it to the same plaza. Parking problem solved.

    • Jul 11, 2019 at 11:58 pm

      roddy6667,

      When we moved to Manhattan nearly 20 years ago, we faced the same problem and sold both of our cars. In a big dense city like that, you’re better off without a car. And if you want to get out over the weekend occasionally and need a car, you can rent one.

    • Nicko2
      Jul 12, 2019 at 7:28 am

      Self-driving tech is progressing rapidly, combine with ride-share tech….no need to ever ‘own’ a vehicle again.

      • nick kelly
        Jul 12, 2019 at 12:24 pm

        IF you live in one of these super dense hives which I would not do if you gave me the condo.

    • alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit
      Jul 13, 2019 at 5:03 pm

      A huge factor in my plans to move back home, to Hawaii, is that there are places near the university that are cheaper because there is just utterly no parking. The listings will say “street parking” but everyone else is looking for that “street parking” too.

      It’s funny, people are really averse to walking and bike-riding there. I think it’s a combination of the warm, damp weather, and that people don’t know how to pace themselves. Setting out to ride somewhere, or walk somewhere, they’ll ride, or walk, faster than they need to and get all sweaty.

      I’ve become really expert in both walking and bike riding here on the mainland and timing myself, I find that a leisurely pace isn’t that much slower than a hurried one. Knowing times helps too. If I know it takes me 15 minutes to get to the post office, 12 minutes to get to Japantown, etc. on the bike, or 25 minutes typically to walk from here to the light rail, I can plan.

  7. William Smith
    Jul 11, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    China has a problem with air pollution degrading solar cell performance: https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/07/air-pollution-costs-china-1-9-billion-in-solar-electricity-each-year/ Those electric vehicles will present a huge load to the power grid. If they are still using coal fired power, then any vehicle emissions savings will simply be emitted by the power plants and renewables will still suffer. EVs are good but Lithium Ion technology is horribly polluting and those batteries will end up in landfill. Hydrogen fuel cell tech alleviates some of those issues (at the risk of your car becoming a bomb). I personally don’t see any of it making much of a difference without reducing overall miles traveled by the populace. But their EV industry will suddenly become very competitive against those of other countries.

    • caradoc_again
      Jul 12, 2019 at 1:51 am

      Aged batteries are being repurposed for energy storage and grid balancing.

      By mid-late 2020’s many GWhr/yr of batteries will be available for 2nd life.

      The challenge is matching batteries as they age differently to each other and mismatched 2nd life cells create complexity when used together.

      Fuel-cell + battery will be very useful on emissions and range. Clean H2 can be created, at a cost, but alternative fuels like Ethanol also available.

      Pure battery EV will probably dominate city. Longer distance and heavy payload = FC and cleaner diesel.

    • Olivier
      Jul 12, 2019 at 7:48 am

      “emissions savings will simply be emitted by the power plants and renewables will still suffer”. One hears that argument often but it is nonsense. Only on paper is it equivalent to burn 1M oil barrels in a single plant vs. one in each of a million cars. In reality it is much easier to monitor and capture (or mitigate) pollution at a handful of power plants than at millions of ICE-powered cars, not to mention that some expensive mitigation technologies can be economically justified for a big plant but not for individual cars.

      What is true is that you still have to extract burn roughly the same amount of coal, oil or whatever. But pollution-wise it can make a big difference to centralize the burning at a handful of sites and we should definitely go for it!

      • Juanfo
        Jul 12, 2019 at 2:58 pm

        Down here cars receive little to no maintenance, the fuel quality is abhorrent. Vehicles emit clouds of toxic smoke. People are sick and dying from the pollution. Epidemic rampant respiratory infection. Children are the most severe victims. Healthy adults start off with a common cold and a few months later drowning of a flood of collapsed lung fluid. A dense gray brown haze perpetually chokes the sky. I would subjectively prefer the contaminants to be relocated far beyond the urban core.

        • California Bob
          Jul 13, 2019 at 9:19 pm

          Where is “Down here?”

  8. MCH
    Jul 12, 2019 at 2:46 am

    So Xi is living the dream of the green new deal. And he is just an old fart. They need to have AOC take over, she will show what a real government backed NGD can do.

    It is interesting though is that China is busy doing an all out approach on energy, they don’t particularly disfavor good ol fossil fuels.

    • Iamafan
      Jul 12, 2019 at 5:36 am

      We have funny leaders, too. Like the one I listened to that called LIBOR the Facebook LIBRA. I wonder who wrote that speech or question for him? A lobbyist for big banks maybe?

      Actually AOC had one of the intelligent questions. Wonder why Pelosi can’t stand her.

      • MCH
        Jul 12, 2019 at 12:38 pm

        Honestly can’t stand the current batch of politicians. The sides doesn’t matter much. Don’t like AOC either, but may be we should embrace her ideas, even though good parts of it seems crazy. She is the classic tear it all down and rebuild type… gives me a feeling she doesn’t care about who it hurts in the interim.

        • Ed C
          Jul 15, 2019 at 9:55 pm

          Embrace her ideas? She doesn’t have any. She has an agenda to ditch anything that emits CO2 or pollutants. She has no idea how to replace that energy. Oh, by the way, she fears and hates Nuclear energy like the rest of her liberal crew, so that option is off the table. She’s just a looney sh^t disturber with a loud mouth and a teeny tiny brain. She’s all emotion and no cognition. I call her ‘Occasional Cortex’.

  9. raxadian
    Jul 12, 2019 at 5:36 am

    Is anyone making money selling electric vehicles without subsides? Well, besides the battery makers that seem to be doiing okay.

    • Anon
      Jul 12, 2019 at 6:36 am

      Batteries are toxic waste. At some point politicians will turn on them like they did cigarettes.

      Investors-be-nimble
      investors-be-quick.
      Investors-guard-your-wealth
      from government-candle-sticks.

      • Iamafan
        Jul 12, 2019 at 7:05 am

        Neither cigarettes nor EV batteries are banned in China. China has its own problems to deal with. I don’t think there’s a good comparison between the communist party and US politics. Just ask one of those Hong Kong protesters.

        Most of the problems we are facing now is economics morphing to fairness.

        • Anon
          Jul 15, 2019 at 6:14 am

          Cigarettes and batteries aren’t banned in the US. They are regulated. (I’m sure both could be instantly regulated in China if the CCP decided it was necessary.) Batteries are a toxic waste. Can’t see much upside if China doesn’t regulate batteries. Cigarettes are a huge tax, bootleg, and social signalling item in the US. Just a cheap drug in China. I have the impression that in China cigarettes are used similar to US pre-1960. Tobacco will probably be phased out as China moves upscale.

      • Nicko2
        Jul 12, 2019 at 7:30 am

        Battery tech is still in it’s infancy…progressing rapidly. Soon we’ll have solid state batteries in wide use, perhaps in a decade. The recycling problem is being dealt with. Battery efficiencies are increasing 5-15% a year!

        • Adam
          Jul 12, 2019 at 12:47 pm

          We’ve been working on batteries for more than 100 years, do you consider that infancy?

        • Buddha
          Jul 12, 2019 at 1:39 pm

          Battery tech has stalled out. There are a few new innovations coming around efficiency, longevity and safety but they are all have serious technical issues moving into production. Questionable if any will make it. It’s also unclear if they will ever get past a reasonable energy/mass ratio.

  10. David Hall
    Jul 12, 2019 at 5:48 am

    One in four people own a car in China. Some cities restricted car ownership. They have been making electric buses and light rail for public transport. With clusters of urban residential towers there is not as much parking space.

  11. Anon
    Jul 12, 2019 at 6:30 am

    Unlikely innovative solutions will be found in a country that requires all success to be scripted. What does China want? Seemingly the same thing as Turkey, Iran and others. To regain past glory. ie Make China Great Again. Chinese Emperor. Russian Czar. Persian Satrap. USA President.

  12. Iamafan
    Jul 12, 2019 at 6:45 am

    Most tourists who visit Beijing have to wear a mask. It’s too dirty and polluted due to Chinese pollution. China is dealing with this problem. Electric cars and producing electricity with gas is their approach.

    On the other hand, if you go to Singapore and parts of lower Southeast Asia, you also get pollution. The air is too dirty from Indonesia burning forests to plant palm oil fields.

    Japan has an interesting way to solve their own problem. Traveling by road from Nagoya to Kyoto, you go through the industrial valley that has Toyota and Honda “cities”. You don’t see oil or coal fired smoke some stacks. You see about 2 massive electrical high tension wires winding in and out of the hills and mountains. Japan electrified a long time ago. Just look at their trains. JR is so good that it really is a good substitute to driving a car especially between far towns. The towns seem to be built up around JR stations. You can visit great places like Kyoto and Hokkaido without go too far away from the JR stations.

    Japan is so clean. Yet people still wear masks for pollen allergies. Nevertheless, dense Asia who can afford it is on the way to electric cars. Breathing is not an option.

    • Prairies
      Jul 12, 2019 at 12:48 pm

      Japan has clean air while using a majority of Coal and NG power plants. Ever since the Tsunami in 2011 the water pollution from nuclear became the main concern.

    • alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit
      Jul 13, 2019 at 5:10 pm

      If you have a cold, wearing a mask is the polite thing to do, in Japan. I’m pretty sure, if you’re Japanese, and you go out coughing and sneezing, people will tell you to put on a damn mask.

      Masks are also worn by people in food service often, again to keep droplets from getting into the food.

      What I really like is the Japanese system of ordering food from a kiosk, that spits out a ticket and a ticket goes to the kitchen so they know what to cook up, then you hand in your ticket for your food, the result being you don’t have the people fixing up your food, handling money.

  13. Tom Pfotzer
    Jul 12, 2019 at 7:14 am

    I’d like to draw more attention to this aspect of Wolf’s article:

    The Chinese have a long-term, coherent, well-designed economic, technical and social policy. And they are executing it brilliantly.

    There are parts of China’s methods that our culture isn’t comfortable with, but China’s performance is demonstrably the best in the world, especially at its scale.

    The key question for our “democracies” is “can a democracy conceive and execute a coherent, stable, effective long-term civilization?”.

    Before you offer up all the warts that China has – and there are several – take time to put them into context, and ask “can this wart be addressed over time?”

    How are we – the U.S. – doing? Are we frittering away our time and resources trying to nail jelly to the wall (ref to our foreign policy), or are we tackling the big problems?

    • Nicko2
      Jul 12, 2019 at 7:35 am

      China has the APPEARANCES of being a resounding success….but they have HUGE internal, long term problems. Distorted demographics, a fast aging society, non-existent social care system, huge wage inequality, slowing growth. Democracies are messy, but they’re flexible, whereas dictatorships are anything but flexible.

      • roddy6667
        Jul 12, 2019 at 8:18 am

        I can tell from your remarks that you have never spent time in China.

        • Escierto
          Jul 12, 2019 at 9:25 am

          You are exactly right. All this knotheads chanting USA! USA! have never spent time anywhere else. If they did they would realize that a lot of Third World countries have a better quality of life than the US. When I come back to the US and it’s corroding infrastructure and lack of public transportation it’s like returning to some primitive country.

    • Paulo
      Jul 12, 2019 at 7:44 am

      Adding to Tom P’s comment: People/countries with a coherent plan do better than people with none.

      The primary aspect I see in our western situation is constant electioneering and finger pointing. Meanwhile, China plans and executes, step by step. It’s a little bit scary, to say the least.

      On right wing sites I see constant reference to ‘plastic Chinese crap’. I remember the same thing used to be said about Japanese products back when I was a kid. Then along came Japanese cameras, electronics, and cars. I look at it this way…China does make plastic crap and does it very well (and look who buys it). They also make excellent electronics, all our appliances, barbecues, summer umbrellas…………. Like I said, they have a plan and a product for every tier of consumer, while we squabble, point fingers, and line up to buy their stuff.

      • Kevin
        Jul 12, 2019 at 10:10 am

        There is a playbook written by Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea to take a safe country with ethnic homogeneity, stable family life, and Confucian work ethic and turn a very poor country into a first world country in about 30 years through government guided industrial policy leveraging low-wage workers first in low value-added manufacturer of clothing and cheap goods all the way up to high-end electronics and specialty high tolerance equipment. China is ramping up that well worn ladder and will likely reach a similar level as those other countries, although they will in the long run be greatly hindered by the costs of excessive borrowing and malinvestment steered by poor government directed industrial policy.

        But it is fair to say that many of these countries have struggled as their per capita GDP approaches that of the industrialized West. I’m not convinced the government motivated industrial policy can successfully move a country from a manufacturing base to knowledge economy.

        • char
          Jul 12, 2019 at 11:09 pm

          Taiwan is not ethnic homogeneous nor is China.

          Confucian work ethic? Is that drink to much after work?

      • Nicko2
        Jul 12, 2019 at 11:40 am

        ” They also make excellent electronics, all our appliances, barbecues, summer umbrellas…”

        My Blackberry Smartphone is made in Mexico
        My Miele Appliances are German (10 warranty!)
        My Weber Barbecue is made in USA (also 10 year warranty)
        My patio Umbrellas are locally made by hand out of solid wood and cotton fabrics.
        My TV is made in Malaysia.

        A lot of my computer hardware originates from Thailand/Taiwan/Japan.

        Plenty of alternatives aside from Chinese crap. ;)

        • Bobby
          Jul 13, 2019 at 8:04 am

          Unfortunately most of the materials to make this crap is being sourced from China, such as the rare earths, lithium, etc.. If we can only develop EV battery technology that doesn’t use lithium but instead more common elements such as zinc, it would be better for the global economy to not have a need to rely on a select few countries for supply.

      • alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit
        Jul 13, 2019 at 5:14 pm

        Paulo – I, too, remember the “chintzy” stuff from Japan. But I also remember when Germany was the source for cheap little handicrafts, and we had tons of glass Xmas tree ornaments made in Germany, hand-blown.

        I remember really cheesy quality plastic stuff made right here in the US of A. There’s a survivor’s bias …. the cheezy stuff gets thrown away, while the nicer stuff is kept and then held up as an example of “American made quality”.

    • IdahoPotato
      Jul 12, 2019 at 9:49 am

      Spot on, Tom Pfotzer.

      I was having this conversation with a Malaysian many years ago. While discussing the role of Mahatir Mohammed as a dictator she said: “Even if he runs in a democratic election he will win. What’s the point of democracy if you can’t achieve anything but feel-good brownie points?”

    • yerfej
      Jul 12, 2019 at 9:18 pm

      Whahaha you have bought into the lies and distortion, nothing out of China is as it seems.

    • sierra7
      Jul 14, 2019 at 8:39 pm

      Tom Pfotzer:
      “The key question for our “democracies” is “can a democracy conceive and execute a coherent, stable, effective long-term civilization?”. ……based on economic greed. I say NO.

  14. tommy runner
    Jul 12, 2019 at 10:28 am

    key ans.. yes, democracies have proven to be more than capable of ‘executing coherent, stable, effective long-term civilizations’.

    • IdahoPotato
      Jul 12, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      All those “democracies” that have a long track record gave voting rights only to propertied males. Switzerland gave voting rights to women in national elections only in 1971.

      If you don’t give voting rights to over half the population, it is not a democracy.

      • dsharmon
        Jul 12, 2019 at 1:44 pm

        And if you turn those voting rights over to a population that will only vote in socialist policies you don’t have a democracy.

  15. Jul 12, 2019 at 11:25 am

    NEV? How old is the material that constitutes the fossil fuels from which all this is made?

  16. tommy runner
    Jul 12, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    you only missed my point by a bunch..

  17. Chenow
    Jul 13, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    So, on one article this site says that the Fed needs to fine-tune the stats that it uses in order to be able to properly control the US economy.

    In another article, it complains that everything in China is government controlled.

    The main question is, if you are not a billionaire, which system works better for you? I know how poorly having government appointed and confirmed bankers run the system has worked out for me.

Comments are closed.