China to set up recall system for polluting cars

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s market regulator will set up a system to recall vehicles that violate the country’s pollution and emissions standards, it said on Wednesday, with cars now the biggest source of smog in major cities.

Pedestrians cross a road amidst smog on a polluted day in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT.

China’s air quality is going to come under even further pressure, with another 100 million vehicles set to ply its roads in the coming five years, the State Administration for Market Regulation said in comments posted on its website.

The nation’s newly revised air pollution law includes provisions to recall vehicles that fail to meet state emissions standards, it said, and it has already studied similar product recall systems in the United States, Europe and Japan.

The regulator is currently studying key issues like the identification of equipment defects and the quality of key components used in reducing engine emissions, but it will work with the environment ministry to draw up new legislation and aims to implement the new system as soon as possible.

Though China has been cracking down on factory emissions and curbing the consumption of coal, vehicle pollution remains a growing problem, increasing lung-damaging, ground-level ozone levels in many major cities.

China’s total vehicle fleet reached 310 million last year, and cars were responsible for about 45 percent of air pollution in the capital, Beijing, and nearly 30 percent in Shanghai, according to figures from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment earlier this year.

China eliminated more than 20 million old and substandard vehicles from its roads last year to cut pollution, and it has also banned the sale of low-grade, high-emissions diesel.

Its “China VI” fuel standards, which are tougher than those used in the European Union, have already been introduced in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region - known for its heavy smog - and will be made mandatory nationwide at the beginning of next year.

Top refiner Sinopec is upgrading its refineries to produce fuel to comply with the new standards.

But enforcing the standards has been a challenge, with fraudulent practices believed to be widespread. Some garages have been found selling equipment to cheat fuel quality detectors, and the environment ministry said in July it had shut as many as 639 substandard vehicle testing stations last year.

The ministry also fined two truck makers late last year for manufacturing and selling vehicles that failed to meet environmental standards.

Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue