Fear the Chinese Vehicle Fleet

by: Tim Iacono

Links to this story last week by Stuart Staniford have been popping up in a number of places in recent days, most likely due to the rather disturbing graphic below that shows what happens if the 23 percent annual growth rate of China’s vehicle fleet continues.

[Click to enlarge]

Click to enlarge

Yesterday, I posted a graph of the relative size of the US Interstate and Chinese Expressway systems, and pointed out that they are now of roughly equal size. Commenter Joel noted, based on personal experience, that the Chinese system is comparatively empty. Statistics on the size of the two vehicle fleets bear this out. The graph above is based on FHWA data (via the Transportation Energy Data Book), and the Chinese NBS Table 16-25, and includes both trucks and passenger vehicles for both countries.

Absent a sharp slowdown in growth in China, I’d say there is good reason to fear the growing number of gasoline/diesel-powered vehicles in the Middle Kingdom.