On China Shifts Gears: Automakers, Oil, Pollution, and Development

Volume 02, Issue 2

For several decades those who follow the automobile industry have been speculating as to what will happen when the Chinese people begin to build and drive automobiles in large numbers. The issue has generated both excitement and concern. While automobile executives have fantasized about a potentially large and lucrative market, others worry about the local and global environmental effects of hundreds of millions of new drivers.

The ultimate economic and environmental consequences of China's motorization are still not known, but the process is well underway. Moreover, the forces that will largely determine the outcome have been in motion for some time. In China Shifts Gears, Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Energy Technology Innovation Policy at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, examines one particular segment of this process. The book explores the role that foreign manufacturers have played in the development of the Chinese automobile industry in an effort to discern whether or not these relationships can help create vehicles that are environmentally responsible. Gallagher's hope is that with the help of foreign direct investment (FDI) China can leapfrog past older automotive technologies that consume more fuel and produce more emissions than those available in the United States today.

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