China's Dumb Solution To Its Pollution Problem

This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place at 9:00 AM. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?

1st Gear: China Would Rather You Didn't Buy A Car, Will Happily Sell You A Car

China's Dumb Solution To Its Pollution Problem

Per the AP, China is the biggest car market in the world but the Chinese would rather not have their cities all descend into post-Industrial polluted madness.

There's already a lottery for cars in many cities and this policy apparently expanding to eight more, including Shenzen, Tianjin, and Chongqing.

Sounds like a good idea, right? It's estimated this could cut vehicle sales by about 400,000 units.

But, as the article points out, restricting purchases only slows the growth and doesn't deal with the basic problems: poor city design, lack of basic transportation, congestion.

Zhao Jian, a transport expert at Beijing’s Jiaotong University’s School of Economics and Management said extending restriction-on-ownership policies to other cities was unlikely to have much effect on pollution because there were already too many cars on the roads.

“The restrictions on car ownership in Beijing failed to achieve what the government wanted to see because the restrictions only slowed the growth in the number of cars. They didn’t reduce the numbers of cars,” said Zhao.

“Even with proper enforcement, the policy still won’t solve the air pollution problem, neither will similar measures in other cities.”

There will still be more cars on the road and China hasn't embraced hybrids, EVs, or many other reasonable solutions. You can sell ZERO more cars, but the streets and highways will still be full of vehicles idling in traffic, spewing pollution into the atmosphere.

2nd Gear: The Focus Electric Joins Fellow EVs In Price Drop

China's Dumb Solution To Its Pollution Problem

There's not a ton of demand for electric cars right now (that aren't named Tesla) as consumers are less than enthusiastic about paying the $10,000 premium over similar gas versions. One way they've reversed this trend is by lowering the price or offering attractive lease terms.

The Fiat 500e offers a cheap $199-a-month lease and 12 days of rental cars.

Ford's EV the Focus Electric has seen weak sales since its introduction, so they're joining the mainstream and slashing $4,000 from the price, bringing it to a still kind of ridiculous $35,995 (with $10,000 in tax credits that's a more reasonably $25,995).

According to The Detroit Free Press, Ford sold 693 cars in 2012 but produced about 1,000 more they didn't sell. This year they've already sold 900 and built about 890, thus making up some of the gap.

3rd Gear: If Sergio Gets His Way, Serbia And The U.S. Benefit

China's Dumb Solution To Its Pollution Problem

Sergio Marchionne is threatening Italy with shifting some Fiat production away from Italy to places around the globe. Who benefits the most from this? Serbia, says Automotive News, who breaks down what goes where.

The Alfa Guilia could go to the United States, the Maserati Levante could be built alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee in Detroit, and the new Jeep crossover/Fiat 500x could go to the new plant in the U.S.

Once again, Marchionne is probably bluffing, but I'm betting the Serbian government wishes the Italian unions would force his hand.

4th Gear: Hillary Clinton To Keynote Dealer Convention

China's Dumb Solution To Its Pollution Problem

What's the most important lobby in the United States? Is it the defense industry? Is it the NRA? Is it Big Tuna?

I'd argue the automotive dealers, as they're not only a huge group that spends money, they spend money locally and have good relationships with members of state legislatures and the U.S. House. Just ask Tesla.

Therefore it should come as no surprise that former Secretary of State/Senator/First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will address the National Automotive Dealers Association convention in New Orleans next year.

She joins Gerald Ford, George W. Bush and Margaret Thatcher as former convention keynote speakers.

5th Gear: Here's the Volkswagen XL1 In England

China's Dumb Solution To Its Pollution Problem

The Volkswagen XL1 gets 261 MPG and looks like the future. Here it is in England for the Coronation Festival. Not much news, I just liked the photo.

Reverse: So It Begins

Serious consideration of a federal road program began in early 1916. There were two competing interest groups at stake: Farmers wanted sturdy, all-weather post roads to transport their goods, and urban motorists wanted paved long-distance highways. The bill that both houses of Congress eventually approved on June 27, 1916, and that Wilson signed into law that July 11, leaned in the favor of the rural populations by appropriating $75 million for the improvement of post roads. It included the stipulation that all states have a highway agency staffed by professional engineers who would administer the federal funds and ensure that all roads were constructed properly.

[HISTORY]

Neutral: What would it take to get you into a Focus EV? Lower price? Good lease? ST version?

Photo Credit: Getty Images