Barriers and opportunities for improving long-haul freight efficiency in China

While heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) are just 5% of vehicle sales in China, they consume nearly 50% of all on-road transport fuel. Unsurprisingly, then, the Chinese government has gone to considerable effort to improve the fuel efficiency of the HDV sector, and the ultimate goal is to create a clean, efficient, and economically sound freight system. But significant inefficiencies still remain. This briefing is the result of a review of literature, desktop research, and expert interviews with government and industry stakeholders in China. The authors find that the barriers for improving freight efficiency fall into three broad categories—institutional barriers, technological barriers, and financial barriers—and that these barriers are interrelated and jointly impact freight efficiency. Several key policy measures for improving efficiency are identified, and among them are enforcement of fuel efficiency and emissions regulations, enforcement of weight limits and safety regulations, government subsidies for green technologies, and ensuring that only compliant trucks and qualified carriers can enter the market.