The Chinese government will invest up to 2 billion yuan yearly to develop alternative-energy vehicles aimed at cutting fuel usage, Vice Finance Minister Zhang Shaochun said in a statement. The Chinese government will also promote the use of buses powered by hybrid engines in major cities in the country.
According to Zhang, the government will also encourage agencies and companies providing public services, like car-rental firms, to use alternative-energy vehicles in 25 trial cities. It is projected that the vehicle population in China will triple by 2020, thus increasing the country’s demand for fossil fuel and worsening its air pollution.
China is currently the world's second-largest importer of oil next to the United States, buying more than half of its crude oil needs from abroad. Air quality in all 32 cities in China that track pollution has failed to reach World Health Organization standards. In fact, Beijing is considered as one of the most polluted cities in the world.
The Chinese finance ministry wants cities to excuse alternative-energy vehicles from restrictions imposed on the issue of license plates as well as from restrictions that limit the use of cars on certain days. The ministry also urged municipal authorities to introduce preferential policies for parking, electricity rates and highway tolls, while accelerating the building of charging stations.