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China about to unleash massive anti-clunker policy

05/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Legislation and Policy, Asia, China

Some of the world's most notoriously smoggy cities are hoping for relief in a new plan taking aim at what's coming out of their tailpipes. In response to serious air pollution problems and an attempt to meet emissions standards, China plans to decommission more than 5 million aging vehicles by the end of 2014. 330,000 of the cars being retired will come from Beijing, which sees some 31 percent of its PM2.5 particulate matter coming from vehicle emissions. In all, 20 percent of the vehicles being scrapped will come from Beijing, Tianjin, and the surrounding Hebei province. China also plans to remove up to 5 million additional cars next year.

Exactly how China plans to remove the offending vehicles remains unclear.

China's State Council says that due to failing to keep up with pollution targets, the country now needs to work even harder to cut emissions over the next two years. The problem is quite serious, after all. A big part of this plan is removing the "yellow label" vehicles that don't meet China's fuel standards. Exactly how China plans to remove the offending vehicles remains unclear, but past projects suggest the possibility of offering cash subsidies to some drivers. Previously, Beijing has paid drivers who voluntarily gave up their older vehicles, but the incentives weren't given to owners of the yellow label cars. China has trouble enforcing emissions standards, and Li Kunsheng, an official at the Beijing municipal environmental bureau doesn't see fining drivers as a viable option for solving the pollution problem. It'll be interesting to see how China decides to implement this new plan to get rid of old clunkers. Similar, smaller scrapping plans have been tried before.

In addition to controlling the number of cars on the road and scrapping the worst polluters, China will focus on upgrading fuel quality, closing coal-powered heating systems, updating power stations, steel mills and cement plants, and reducing energy consumption in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions and alleviate its pollution problems.

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Hyundai admits 'error' in KDM Sonata fuel economy announcement

03/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: MPG, Hyundai, Legislation and Policy, Asia

2014 Hyundai Sonata

Stop us if you've heard this one before: Hyundai is going to have to reduce the officially announced miles-per-gallon number for its 2014 Sonata. While there's a lot of similarity between this new situation and events that transpired in 2012, there are some important differences. For one, the new mileage mistake, which Hyundai says was once again caused by an error at its test centers, is only applicable to cars in the Korean Domestic Market. Secondly, it's not so much mpg as kilometers per liter.

"We are very sorry for causing confusion to reporters" - Hyundai

According to Reuters, the numbers for the Korean Sonata were originally announced as 12.6 kilometers per liter (29.63 mpg), a six-percent increase over the previous model. The automaker has just announced that government verification showed an actual result of 12.1 kpl (28.46 mpg), which is only a two-percent increase. Since these numbers were done using the South Korean economy test, they are not equivalent to the US EPA numbers, the latter of which say the 2014 Sonata gets 36/40/38 miles per gallon. The correction came before the new Sonata went on sale in South Korea. In an official statement, Hyundai said, "We are very sorry for causing confusion to reporters." Hyundai Motor America's Jim Trainor, product public relations senior group manager, assured AutoblogGreen that the Korean error will have "no effect" on US ratings.

In 2012, Hyundai and Kia faced a media and consumer firestorm after being caught up in exaggerated mileage claims for vehicles like its 2013 Accent, Veloster and Elantra. The sister companies agreed to compensate buyers to the tune of $395 million for what they said were "honest mistakes" and "human error" during in-house fuel economy tests. There is no word yet on whether similar customer satisfaction actions will follow this domestic market snafu.

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Kia Soul EV starts production next month amidst modest sales projections

03/14/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Kia, Asia

Kia Soul EV

The hamsters in those Kia Soul commercials? Looks like they'll be riding real quiet and quite clean a little sooner than we thought. Kia is now saying it will start production of the 2015 Soul EV next month, and sales will start later this year in the company's home country of South Korea. Additionally, according to Reuters, Kia is keeping sales expectations low, suggesting it should sell about 5,000 Soul EVs a year at a price of around $39,000, though the out-of-pocket costs should be cut in half because of South Korean government subsidies.

Kia's taking a somewhat conservative approach to its early sales target as it focuses largely on the US and Europe during its first phase, said Kia spokesman Michael Choo. "We are currently conducting launch feasibility studies for the secondary phase of Soul EV introduction and plan to expand sales to other countries at a later stage," he said. "Hence, we believe the sales volume of the Soul EV will steadily grow following our initial full year of sales."

As for the US, Kia spokesman James Hope tells AutoblogGreen that while the company hasn't set a definitive debut date, "we are targeting Q3 of this year." Hope says Kia isn't providing Soul EV sales guidance for the US, so we'll just have to see where the EV chips fall come September or so.

Reuters also notes that sister company Hyundai will start selling its own battery-electric vehicle in 2016, a timetable confirmed by Hyundai Senior Vice President Lee Ki-sang. Both Kia and Hyundai are shooting for a South Korean electric-vehicle market that they hope will expand exponentially from a total of just 713 sales last year. The front-wheel-drive Soul EV will have a 81-kilowatt electric motor, and its single-charge range will be about 120 miles. The model was first shown off at the Chicago Auto Show last month, but Autoblog scored an early prototype test drive ahead of the reveal - check out our feature drive report here.

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