Growth of a Giant: A Historical and Current Perspective on the Chinese Automobile Industry with an Insight into Its Global and Local Impacts
Yuan Gao, Curtin University, Jeffrey Kenworthy, Curtin University
This paper aims to provide a synoptic overview on the Chinese automobile industry.
The automobile industry in China has marched into its 5th decade since 1956 and in 2009 surpassed the U.S.A. as the giant of the global automobile market. Rapidly increasing motorization in China exerts unprecedented effects at home and abroad. The growth of the automobile in Chinese cities has created massive impacts on Chinese urban transport systems including major congestion, widespread environmental problems and the destruction of urban public space, leading to liveability problems and many cultural changes. More positively, it has also been a major factor in the unprecedented investment in urban rail systems in Chinese cities as a way of coping with the problems caused by cars. China’s push towards cars also has major implications for the global environment, as well as many other matters concerned with global finance and economics. This paper aims to provide a synoptic overview on the Chinese automobile industry, classifying it into four distinct phases, which are characterized by the prevailing institutional environments. These four phases are theStart-up Phasefrom 1956 to 1978, Growing Phasefrom 1979to 2001, Prosperity Phasefrom 2002 to 2010 and finally the Stationary Phase from 2011 until the present day. It analyses China’s national political, economic, trade, international relations and other factors and how these affected the development of the overall Chinese automobile industry, with a specific emphasis on private motor vehicle ownership and use. The paper also provides a brief description of some key local and global impacts from this unprecedented growth in the automobile industry in a country, which up until even the mid-1990s, had cities that primarily functioned with walking, cycling and public transport and had extremely low car ownership.
Association for European Transport