China Shifts Gears

From Urban and Industrial Environments

China Shifts Gears

Automakers, Oil, Pollution, and Development

By Kelly Sims Gallagher





Chinese production of automobiles rose from 42,000 cars per year in 1990 to 2.3 million in 2004; the number of passenger vehicles on the road doubled every two and a half years through the 1990s and continues to grow. In China Shifts Gears, Kelly Sims Gallagher identifies an unprecedented opportunity for China to "shift gears" and avoid the usual problems associated with the automobile industry—including urban air pollution caused by tailpipe emissions, greenhouse gas emissions, and high dependence on oil imports—while spurring economic development. This transformation will only take place if the Chinese government plays a leadership role in building domestic technological capacity and pushing foreign automakers to transfer cleaner and more energy-efficient technologies to China. If every new car sold in China had the cleanest and most energy-efficient of the automotive technologies already available, urban air pollution could be minimized, emissions of climate-altering greenhouse gases would be lower than projected, and the Chinese auto industry would continue to flourish and contribute to China's steady economic development. But so far, Gallagher finds, the opportunity to shift gears has been missed.

Gallagher looks in detail at three U.S.-Chinese joint ventures: Beijing Jeep, Shanghai GM, and Chang'An Ford. These case studies are based on original research, including interviews with 90 government officials, industry representatives, and experts in both countries. Drawing from the case studies, Gallagher explores the larger issues of the environmental and economic effects of technology transfer in the automobile industry and the policy implications of "leapfrogging" to more advanced technology.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262072700 216 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 12 illus.


$22.00 X ISBN: 9780262572323 216 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 12 illus.


  • China Shifts Gears is an excellent roadmap for those seeking to analyze the complexities of China's economic performance. It critically explores new avenues for understanding the dynamics of technological innovation in emerging countries. An inspirational resource for policy makers, scholars, and international policy students.

    Calestous Juma

    Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

  • This is an extremely important and timely book. Gallagher's account of the three major China-U.S. joint ventures will not only shed light on the current debate in China about foreign direct investment and indigenous technological capabilities; it will also contribute to effective public policies to address the monumental challenges of pollution and oil consumption presented by the tremendous growth of the Chinese auto market. I enjoyed it thoroughly!

    Xue Lan

    Director, China Institute of Science and Technology Policy, Tsinghua University, Beijing

  • I am very impressed with this book. Gallagher addresses the extremely important question of whether foreign direct investment can be an effective vehicle for transfer of clean energy, in particular in the automotive sector. The question has enormous implications not only for China (air pollution, cancer rates) but for the world (oil prices, climate change). The importance of this book is therefore very great.

    Judith Shapiro

    School of International Service, American University, author of Mao's War Against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China