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China The Almighty Buck Transportation Technology

China Car-Tracking Scheme Could Allow Higher Fuel Prices For Gas-Guzzling Cars (thestack.com) 150

An anonymous reader writes: In the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, traditionally a test-bed for nationwide infrastructure and technology schemes, 200,000 vehicles have been experimentally hooked into a real-time traffic-monitoring system based on RFID and roadside monitoring stations. China's state-owned Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASC) claims that such intense monitoring will be necessary for the driverless cars of the future, and to foil license-plate forgeries. On Monday the general manager of Chinese auto manufacturer Great Wall Motor suggested that a monitoring scheme of such scope could also be used to introduce a wide range of usage-based levies, and to easily ensure that less efficient cars could be charged more for fuel at gas stations.
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China Car-Tracking Scheme Could Allow Higher Fuel Prices For Gas-Guzzling Cars

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  • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @02:04PM (#51666963)

    why not use the car's odometer and charge them more at license renewal time?

    • It's china. They're big on the whole Orwellian "BIG-DATA" tracking and analytical oppression for maintaining a political grip on power and maintaining relevancy for the next 10,000 years. The CCP has a mindset of a dynasty. It's structured to protect its own interests first and foremost. Once you understand that, everything else they do makes perfect "harmonious" sense.

    • by vakuona ( 788200 )

      Maybe because the odometer doesn't measure fuel use?

      • Neither does a RFID tag.

        /greger

      • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

        If your car gets 25 mpg and your odometer shows a change of 7,500 miles at renewal time, how much gas did you use?

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          If your car gets 25 mpg and your odometer shows a change of 7,500 miles at renewal time, how much gas did you use?

          The naÃve answer is 300 gallons.

          But if you lived in the city, that could easily be 3000 gallons because being stuck in a traffic jam hurts mileage. Or maybe you're one of those people who keeps their car running 24/7 even when it's parked at home so you come to a nice cool car in the summer and a warm one in the winter.

          The amount of gas consumed varies greatly. You can't even say 25mpg was

          • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

            But if you lived in the city, that could easily be 3000 gallons because being stuck in a traffic jam hurts mileage.

            So the government gets less gas tax revenue when people are stuck in traffic? That sounds like a good incentive for the government to end traffic congestion.

            • by phorm ( 591458 )

              Sounds like a great idea. How do you propose doing so (other than the obvious answer of reducing the number of vehicles on the road)?

              It's easy to say "the government should do X" but not so much when you actually have to come up with a sane method for doing so.

              • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

                How do you propose [ending traffic congestion] (other than the obvious answer of reducing the number of vehicles on the road)?

                That's like asking how to get rid of mosquitoes without eliminating standing water.

        • If your car gets 25 mpg and your odometer shows a change of 7,500 miles at renewal time, how much gas did you use?
          Simple answer: we don't know. Fuel usage depends on speed. It also depends on the gear you are in. With a manual transmission and cherry picking speeds the difference between minimum fuel usage and maximum is certainly a factor of 3 or 4.
          My car e.g. indicates its fuel usage. If I run 50km/h in gear 5 at 30 degrees outside it claims I'm using 2.9l/100km. If I run uphill a mountain in gear 2 with

      • by pla ( 258480 )
        Maybe because the odometer doesn't measure fuel use?

        Okay, so why not just charge more for the fuel, no tracking required whatsoever.

        We already have plenty of passive ways to calculate whatever we decide counts as a "fair share" of transportation infrastructure to its users. Anyone pushing for more active, GPS-based tracking has zero legitimate interest in allocating costs and every interest in having a readily available record of citizens' every movement.
        • Okay, so why not just charge more for the fuel, no tracking required whatsoever.

          Because the owners of gas-guzzlers are ALREADY paying more for fuel. The inherent value of the fuel does not change depending on how much it takes to go from A to B, but they use more to do that so they PAY more. And they pay more in gas taxes so they pay a disproportionate amount of the road maintenance fees.

          Anyone pushing for more active, GPS-based tracking has zero legitimate interest in allocating costs and every interest in having a readily available record of citizens' every movement.

          You know, I had a hard time convincing an engineer working on such a project that tracking people was going to be a natural use of her efforts. She just didn't believe it could happen. "But they won't

          • Because the owners of gas-guzzlers are ALREADY paying more for fuel.

            There are already many use cases for tiered usage pricing to drive an economic situation, i.e. bulk discounts, or high use penalty for scares resources.
            Why should fuel be protected from government policies?

    • Because it's easier to roll back an odometer dial than to spoof telemetry data?
  • by nebaz ( 453974 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @02:05PM (#51666969)

    They already pay more for gas. They use more of it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by willy_me ( 212994 )
      gas is subsidized
    • Exactly. If they wanted to, they could raise the price of gasoline to the point where the externalized costs (i.e. pollution) are taken into account. The result would be a system which charges people in proportion to their consumption & environmental harm without the need for Big Brother. I suspect they want to track all cars anyway and are fishing for reasons to justify it.
      • Pretty much this. You could also achieve the goal of specifically penalizing the egregious polluters by charging a higher yearly registration fee for gas-guzzling models/years, or even base the fee on mileage with the data from the smog check inspection, also payable at registration time. Either option would be significantly less intrusive than the tracking scheme. But I don't think "non-intrusive" is a concern in China.

      • Exactly. If they wanted to, they could raise the price of gasoline to the point where the externalized costs (i.e. pollution) are taken into account.

        Yeah. They could do the same thing for labor, too, to the point where the externalized costs (i.e. health care, pension, fair treatment of labor, etc.) are taken into account.

        Like the United States does.

        And then it would cost the same to manufacture in China as it does in the U.S., instead of being vastly cheaper in China.

    • So? Why should gas have a linear scale for use? We have plenty of cases where various tiers of usage result in various usage charges. Some bulk discounts, some bulk penalties, some to promote over use, and some to promote the reduction of a scarce resource. Why not add climate and a pollution penalty to the mix?

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      There is a far easier solution. Quite simply hugely inflate the registration fee of all infernal combustion engines and reduce registration costs for electric vehicles. This will drive electric vehicle use and hugely reduce the use of polluting infernal combustion engine vehicles of all description. We approaching that tipping point, so twiddling about at the edge of fossil fuel consumption makes little sense at this stage better to focus on planning to hugely reducing it's use where ever possible. There i

  • by The Eight-Bit Link ( 2447312 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @02:09PM (#51667003)
    Wouldn't this just end up punishing the poor more than people with big cars? People who do not have a lot of money might not be able to get the most efficient/clean cars, and those who can afford more efficient cars would just pay the fees and keep their nice big car anyway.
    • pretty much all these new energy requirements hurt the poor more than any other group

      people seem to forget that the modern world runs on power, and if power gets to expensive, then a large number of people are going to be screwed
      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        the modern world runs on power

        Tell me about it. You should see the contributions I have to pay the local politicians just to stay in business.

        Oh, that wasn't the power you were talking about? Never mind then.

      • Except when they don't. For example, many carbon tax proposals call for simply dividing up the revenue and paying it back out to the public again. The poor tend to use less energy than the rich, so most of them would end up receiving more money back than they paid.

        Incentives for energy efficiency are not about increasing government revenue. They're about encouraging certain behaviors while keeping revenue unchanged.

        • how about....we simply stop taking money from people to give to others???? is that REALLY so much to ask???
    • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

      That's why we have mass transit.

      • really we do???? because unless you live in a big city (which a good number of americans dont) there really isnt

        also forgive me if i dont like going places as if im a head of cattle daily
        • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

          unless you live in a big city (which a good number of americans dont) there really isnt [public transportation]

          Could the low price of gasoline be part of the reason?

          forgive me if i dont like going places as if im a head of cattle daily

          That's fine. You lose the ability to adjust to civilized life as you get old. This is not your fault, it's a normal part of aging.

          • im 30 dude, I get that im not hip anymore, but not old

            i dont care what caused it (the auto dealers buying up small transit lines in the 20s) but i have to live with it. so i need my car, my impala gets 20-30MPG, and is big enough for 5 comfortably. i will continue to need a car for the foreseeable future and i cant think of anything i would ever do that would lead me to give it up

            there are a 100 million other americans who think just like me
          • Could the low price of gasoline be part of the reason?

            No. The high cost of infrastructure (buses, trains, employees) to provide mass transit, combined with the low usage rates of less dense areas.

            You simply can't get the number of riders to make a bus system pay off in a city of as large as 50,000, and when you consider the vast areas of this country where you don't have even that density of population ... mass transit is nice where it works, and it is usually highly subsidized even then. We have a tax on our water bill to pay for free bus rides for everyone,

            • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

              You simply can't get the number of riders to make a bus system pay off in a city of as large as 50,000

              This city of 8,738 [wikipedia.org] has bus service [sctransit.com].

              People who never set foot on a bus and aren't close to any of the limited number of lines pay for others to ride.

              That's fine because people who live in the city heavily subsidize people who live in the suburbs [streetsblog.org].

              You lose the ability to adjust to civilized life as you get old.

              What a completely asinine and insulting argument you just made.

              You don't think young people are

              • they do? depends on where you live i guess. in NY for example the hudson valley pays more in taxes and gets less in return than albany or NYC. see my argument about the MTA 2 comments up
              • This city of 8,738 has bus service.

                This "city" service is run by the county, so there is a huge amount of taxpayer subsidy going into it. This system is not "paying off", it is sucking money. I didn't say a city of that size can't have bus service, I said it cannot have bus service that 'pays off' -- i.e., is sustainable and self-funding.

                That's fine because people who live in the city heavily subsidize people who live in the suburbs.

                Umm, people in the suburbs who have no or little access to the bus service are not being subsidized, they are the ones who are subsizing the city dwellers. And city dwellers who have little to no access to t

                • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

                  You said "You lose the ability to adjust to civilized life as you get old." That's patently absurd and outrageously ageist.

                  And yet it's true [forbes.com]:

                  Here's how the geography of aging works: Americans are most likely to move to the core cities in their early 20s, but this migration peters out as people enter the end of that often tumultuous decade. By their 30s, they move increasingly to the suburbs, as well as outside the major metropolitan areas (the 52 metropolitan areas with a population over a million in 2010)

                  • That's more about gaining wisdom and appreciating the more important things in life as you age, and nothing to do with "losing the ability to adjust to 'civilized' life as you get old."

            • I pay an extra 50 bucks everytime i register my car to pay for the MTA in NY....eventhough i think ive been on a train down to NYC about 3 times in my life (im a good 2 hours from manhatten)

              Why i have to pay for them is beyond me
              • Why i have to pay for them is beyond me

                Because the people in NYC have learned that they can vote taxes onto the backs of others to pay for things they want, or elect people who will create such taxes for them. de Tocqueville:

                The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.

                A corralary: a democacy can survive only until the have-nots learn they can tax the haves for things they want.

                It happens everywhere. In parts of Michigan outside Detroit metro, it was a common complain

      • Except for when you need to get across town in a reasonable time, if you need to get somewhere on the weekends or after five on weekdays, or when your bus runs late and the next bus doesn't come for half an hour, or when service gets rerouted due to construction. It may work for many people, but for many others it's insufficient.
  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @02:12PM (#51667031) Homepage

    For those that aren't aware: the license plate can cost more than the car itself [bloomberg.com]; hence the forgeries.

    • Shanghai officials have put in place a complicated—and expensive—process to purchase the right to add a car to the often-gridlocked roads of this city of 23 million people. To register for the license auction, prospective car buyers must put down 2,000 yuan as good faith money. In exchange, they get a disc loaded with software they can use to bid online. After a couple of rounds of offers, the government figures out the highest price it can charge to completely sell out the year’s new allotment of licenses. Lottery participants who had bid at least that much then get to pay for their plates.

      for communism, it sure seems a lot like capitalism at it's finest.

      • The only thing communist in china is the communist party.

        The rest is 1750 capitalizm at its finest.

        Ah, well and a few health care and education related issues ... are still "communist".

  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @02:19PM (#51667075)

    and to easily ensure that less efficient cars could be charged more for fuel at gas stations.

    Because driving a gas-guzzler (usually older as the only thing poor folk can afford) isn't punishment enough. It's like winning the lottery: you beat the stratospheric odds and you end up having to pay ridiculously high tax rates on the winnings even for a state-based game. I'm far from a libertarian, but that has always struck me as total bullshit^.

    And yes, I'm also terrified of this coming to the US (Oregon is seriously considering real-time monitored mileage-based taxation).

    ^ - Back when they were first considering the national lotteries, David Brinkley observed: "The mob used to have something similar called the Numbers game. But the odds were better, and you didn't have to pay any taxes on the winnings."

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )

      It's like winning the lottery: you beat the stratospheric odds and you end up having to pay ridiculously high tax rates on the winnings even for a state-based game. I'm far from a libertarian, but that has always struck me as total bullshit

      I apologize for moving OT here, but I am genuinely confused by this attitude. In the case of lottery winnings, it's already free money anyways.... it's not like one had to work particularly hard for it, and if the prize is running into the many tens of millions of doll

  • Over the long haul, as one of the first IPO investors in China back in the 90s, I've learned a few things.

    One is that you need to verify and then not trust. Keep verifying.

    I predict license plate fraud will be endemic in wealthy fuel stops and in remote regions.

    Is this a good idea? Possibly, but it needs to be closely monitored, as up to 50 percent of the Chinese supply chain has fraudulent materials, and people will politely pretend to do something and then not do it.

    A better method would be to disincentiv

  • Increasing tax on fuel will have a similar effect.

    This idea is stupid - it's a technological solution looking for a problem. What if I buy an efficient car and tweak the engine to make it faster and less efficient. Does it still count as an efficient car?

    Tax vehicles by weight if you have to - the heavier they are, the less efficient they tend ot be.

    And tax the fuel. The more fuel you use, the more you pay.

    And this does not involve any fancy tech.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      And tax the fuel.

      Electric cars. Plug in anywhere and dodge the tax.

      And this does not involve any fancy tech.

      One could apply a per mile charge only to alternative fuel (like electric or bio diesel) vehicles. But then you'd get a 'No fair!' whine. And the thought of charging per mile or per zone (like central London) based upon GPS technology make politicians moist.

      • you don't think like a government in the large corp/banking cartel's pockets, now do you.

        Electric cars - tax the "less efficient" ones too.

        Nevermind the person with 10 person van actually is hauling 8 people, tax that poor bastard to death!

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      Well, as someone else said, this was a small car manufacturer who was basically asking the government to tax his competition. You need look no further than that.

      The only question is whether this owner has more pull with the Party than the big car makers.

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      Yes, but increasing the fuel tax doesn't allow us to track where citizens are every moment of the day. That's really what they're getting out of this. The extra revenue is just gravy.
  • Don't less efficient cars already pay more for fuel because... ya know... they use more fuel?

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