China: Light-duty: Fuel Consumption


As of January 2016, Phase IV standards set a fleet average target of 5.0 L/100km for new vehicles sold in 2020, equivalent to a 27.5% reduction from the previous target of 6.9 L/100km in 2015.

Standard type

Fuel consumption limits

Current Standard
Phase IV
Light-duty passenger vehicles <3,500 kg, both domestic and imported


Phase I and II

China’s first-ever fuel consumption standards for passenger vehicles were adopted in 2004 (National Standard GB 19578-2004). The standard established “Phase I” and “Phase II” fuel consumption standards, which were phased-in from 2005-2006 and 2008-2009, respectively. The China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC), a semi-governmental organization, drafted the regulations during a two-year process involving multiple agencies of the Chinese government.1

The Phase I and II standards required that each individual vehicle model comply with fuel consumption regulations prior to entering the market. This contrasts with policies in the US, the EU, and Canada, which permit auto manufacturers to meet targets by averaging emissions over their entire fleet of models. Phase I applied to light-duty passenger vehicles weighing under 3,500 kg, and entered into force in July 2005 for all new vehicle models (2006 for continued models).2 The targets were broken down into 16 weight classes (see below), with limit values differentiated by manual and automatic transmission. By the end of 2006 all new vehicles had successfully met the targets.3

Phase II tightened the fuel consumption limits by approximately 10 percent from Phase I. This second round of regulations came into effect in January 2008 (2009 for continued models). 4 The completed Phase I and II contributed to a combined overall reduction in fleet fuel consumption of approximately 10 percent, from 9.11 liters per hundred kilometer (L/100 km) in 2002 to 8.06 L/100km by the end of 2008.

Phase III

In August 2009, China announced the development of Phase III of its fuel consumption regulation program, to be phased-in from 2012 to 2015. The Phase III program has some important differences to Phase I and Phase II. Most importantly, in addition to specific fuel consumption limits by weight class, the Phase III standards establish a corporate-average fuel consumption (CAFC) target which manufacturers are required to comply with.

The Phase III fuel consumption limits are established in National Standard GB 27999-2011. This standard sets the per-vehicle limit values, and indicates that the standard will result in a fleet average fuel consumption for new vehicles of approximately 7 L/100km (equivalent to 167 gCO2/km) by 2015. It also establishes a timeline for compliance with the CAFC requirement. However, detailed implementing regulations, especially related to the specific CAFC target and how it shall be enforced, are not included in the standard.

In 2012, China’s State Council released the Energy-Saving and New Energy Vehicle Industrialization Plan, which states an expected fleet average target of 6.9 L/100km by 2015 (slightly below that estimated in GB 27999-2011) and 5.0 L/100km by 2020.

In March 2013, five government departments issued the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency Accounting Method for Passenger Cars, which confirm the expected fleet fuel consumption targets.

Phase IV

Phase IV fuel consumption standards for passenger vehicles (GB19578-2014) were released in December 2014 to take effect starting on January 1, 2016. Similar to the previous phases of standards, the Phase IV standards set maximum fuel consumption limit values indexed to vehicle kerb weight and have two sets of limit values for regular cars and special cars. Compliance will be determined by the corporate-average fuel consumption (CAFC) of manufacturers for a given year. A fleet average target of 5.0 L/100km for new vehicles sold in 2020 is expected if all manufacturers are able to meet their specific CAFC targets. The standard has a phase-in schedule to provide manufacturers with flexibility to comply. Another important compliance flexibility to manufacturers is the fuel consumption credit for adopting off-cycle fuel saving technologies. Proposed technologies include start-stop, tire pressure monitoring systems, gear shift indicators, and efficient A/C systems. Manufacturers may claim up to 0.5 L/100km if all certified and proven off-cycle technologies are adopted on their cars.

Light-Duty Commercial Vehicles

China has released Phase III light commercial vehicle standards GB 20997-2015. They take effect on Jan 1, 2018.

Technical Standards

Per-Vehicle Standards

China uses a weight-based standards system and tests vehicles using the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). Fuel consumption data are reported to the government by auto manufacturers, and a sampling of data is verified in third-party laboratories certified by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Chinese fuel consumption standards for light-duty vehicles are summarized in the following table. The effective dates refer to new models. The dates for models in production (all sales and registrations) are 1 year later.

Fuel Consumption Standards, L/100 km
Curb Mass (CM), kg Phase I: 1 Jul 2005 Phase II: 1 Jul 2008 Phase III: 1 Jan 2012
M/T A/T M/T(1) A/T(2) MT AT(3)
or 3 rows of seats
CM ≤ 750 7.2 7.6 6.2 6.6 5.2 5.6
750 < CM ≤ 865 7.2 7.6 6.5 6.9 5.5 5.9
865 < CM ≤ 980 7.7 8.2 7.0 7.4 5.8 6.2
980 < CM ≤ 1,090 8.3 8.8 7.5 8.0 6.1 6.5
1,090 < CM ≤ 1,205 8.9 9.4 8.1 8.6 6.5 6.8
1,205 < CM ≤ 1,320 9.5 10.1 8.6 9.1 6.9 7.2
1,320 < CM ≤ 1,430 10.1 10.7 9.2 9.8 7.3 7.6
1,430 < CM ≤ 1,540 10.7 11.3 9.7 10.3 7.7 8.0
1,540 < CM ≤ 1,660 11.3 12.0 10.2 10.8 8.1 8.4
1,660 < CM ≤ 1,770 11.9 12.6 10.7 11.3 8.5 8.8
1,770 < CM ≤ 1,880 12.4 13.1 11.1 11.8 8.9 9.2
1,880 < CM ≤ 2,000 12.8 13.6 11.5 12.2 9.3 9.6
2,000 < CM ≤ 2,110 13.2 14.0 11.9 12.6 9.7 10.1
2,110 < CM ≤ 2,280 13.7 14.5 12.3 13.0 10.1 10.6
2,280 < CM ≤ 2,510 14.6 15.5 13.1 13.9 10.8 11.2
2,510 < CM 15.5 16.4 13.9 14.7 11.5 11.9
(1) M/T – Manual transmission
(2) A/T – Automatic transmission
(3) After 31 Dec 2015, all AT vehicles must meet MT limits

The following figure shows the weight-class limit values for Phase I, II, and III Chinese fuel consumption standards.

Corporate Average Fuel Consumption (CAFC) Standards

The Corporate Average Fuel Consumption (CAFC) is a metric that describes the average fuel consumption of all cars produced by a manufacturer. The Phase IV Standard includes both vehicle-maximum fuel consumption limits and a corporate-average fuel consumption (CAFC) standard for each manufacturer based on vehicle curb weight distribution across the manufacturer’s fleet. Manufacturers and importers must meet both standards; that is, for each model year, each vehicle produced must meet its own weight-based maximum fuel consumption limit, and each manufacturer’s passenger car fleet must meet its corporate-average fuel consumption target.

Flexibility Schemes

1) Passenger car models with a pure electric range of 50km or more are allowed to be counted five times, and models with a combined fuel consumption lower than 2.8L/100km are counted three times. In other words, these cars are assigned a heavier weight in the CAFC calculation and therefore are able to disproportionately drive the CAFC down for a given company that produces these vehicles. This flexibility is intended to incentivize the production of fuel cell, electric, and plug-in hybrid vehicles. However, it also allows for the production of gasoline vehicles that are less efficient while still meeting requirements.

2) If the CAFC of a car manufacturer is lower than the limit value for a given year, the manufacturer is allowed to relax its requirements by an amount equal to the surplus for the following year or within three years.

CAFE and NEV (Electric Vehicles) Policy Mandate

A draft proposal of this policy was released in September of 2016. This proposal would add a new NEV credit system (similar to Californiaʻs ZEV mandate policy) to the existing CAFC regulation for passenger cars overseen by MIIT. The NEV target score of an auto company is defined as a percentage of its total annual conventional-fuel passenger car production or import in each year. The percentage requirements for 2018-2020 is 8%, 10%, 12%, respectively. Please note that the percentage requirements mentioned above (8%, 10% and 12% in 2018, 2019 and 2020) does not mean that the market share of NEV in China in 2018-2020 will be 8-12%, because the per-NEV score is higher than ((e.g., 2 scores for BEVs with 80-150km electric range, etc). For example, if all the NEVs produced by SAIC are 2-score NEVs, they can achieve their NEV score target in 2018 if their NEVs production equals to 4% of their conventional fuel car production.  The second draft of this policy was released in Juna 2017 and the policy as a whole has entered a substantial development phase as of mid-2017.

Show 4 footnotes

  1. Zhao Wang, Yuefu Jin, Michael Wang, Wei Wu. 2010. New fuel consumption standards for Chinese passenger vehicles and their effects on reductions of oil use and CO2 emissions of the Chinese passenger vehicle fleet. Energy Policy 38 (2010) 5242–5250. pp. 5242.
  2. Yuefu Jin, Wei Wu, Bamin Xu and Zhao Wang, Dongquan He and Charlotte Pera, Michael Wang, Feng An and Michael Walsh. 2005. Development of Fuel Consumption Standards for Chinese Light-Duty Vehicles. SAE Technical Paper Series, 2005-01-0534.
  3. Olivia Nugent and Bob Oliver. Canadian Automobile Association (CAA). Primer on Automobile Fuel Efficiency and Emissions. Pg. 102.
  4. Oliver, Hongyan H., Kelly Sims Gallagher, Donglian Tian, and Jinhua Zhang. “China’s Fuel Economy Standards for Passenger Vehicles: Rationale, Policy Process, and Impacts.” Discussion Paper 2009-03, Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, March 2009

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