In a landmark international collaboration on clean vehicle adoption, the University of California, Davis, and the China Automotive Technology and Research Center will work together to help speed the commercialization of plug-in and fuel cell electric cars in China and the U.S. under an agreement signed Sept. 6 in Tianjin, China.

The five-year memorandum of understanding establishes the China–U.S. ZEV Policy Lab, a partnership between UC Davis, the world’s leading university on sustainable transportation, and CATARC, the administrative body that oversees and regulates many activities of the auto industry in China, the world’s largest new-car market. Primary UC Davis partners are the Institute of Transportation Studies and the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy.

The California Air Resources Board, the world’s leader on clean vehicle policies, and the National Development and Reform Commission, a major Chinese government agency, have supported the agreement and will co-chair the new entity’s advisory board. Major international and Chinese automotive and energy companies will also be invited to participate.

The memorandum of understanding was signed during the 2014 International Forum on Chinese Automotive Industry Development.

“Given the great importance the Chinese government now attaches to the development and commercialization of new energy vehicles, the establishment of the Policy Lab is extremely timely,” Gang Li, the department chief in charge of vehicles at NDRC said at the ceremony. “As a platform for Sino-U.S. exchanges and cooperation in the field of new energy vehicle policies, I believe that the Policy Lab will play an important role in promoting EV-related policy design and EV development in both countries.”

The collaboration will help expand the global market for zero-emission vehicles, or ZEVs, by providing intellectual support for design of ZEV policies and analysis of consumer markets, including demand for charging stations, different types of ZEV technologies, and effectiveness of incentives. The China–U.S. ZEV Policy Lab will strengthen cooperation between California, the current leader in ZEV sales and the United States’ largest new-car market, and China, the global leader in new-car sales.

“This agreement is an important milestone in coordinating global efforts to accelerate clean vehicle commercialization,” said Daniel Sperling, director of ITS-Davis. “We are honored to join forces with CATARC, whose important leadership in this area will allow California, the United States and China to promote best practices and policy initiatives that will bring new energy vehicles to market not only in China and the United States, but also around the world.”

In addition to policy research and studies of consumer behavior, the China–U.S. ZEV Policy Lab will train advanced vehicle researchers and leaders in California and China, inform Chinese regional and central government officials on California’s ZEV and related vehicle policies, and exchange information between California and China regarding lessons learned.

“We have been working with China on air and climate issues under a unique MOU signed by Gov. Jerry Brown and NDRC Vice Chairman Xie Zhenhua,” said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols, about the new initiative. “We commend China for its commitment to further reduce emissions by greatly expanding the purchase of battery electric and fuel cell powered vehicles.”

ARB policies such as the ZEV and Advanced Clean Cars program and the groundbreaking Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) have informed government action around the world.

Signatories to the MOU include UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and CATARC Director Hang Zhao. Yunshi Wang, director of the China Center for Energy and Transportation at ITS-Davis, signed the agreement in Tianjin on behalf of ITS-Davis, the UC Davis Policy Institute, and the Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center at ITS-Davis.

The lab will be led by ITS-Davis’ Wang and CATARC’s executive in charge of new energy vehicles, Deputy Director Zhixin Wu. Co-chairing the lab’s advisory board are NDRC’s Li and ARB Deputy Executive Officer Alberto Ayala, who was present at the signing.

The creation of the China–U.S. ZEV Policy Lab follows several recent measures announced by the Chinese government to fight the country’s hazardous smog and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In July, the central government mandated that electric cars make up at least 30 percent of government vehicle purchases by 2016. The Chinese government also recently announced new financial incentives for electric car purchases.

About ITS-Davis, C-CET, the Policy Institute, and the PH&EV Research Center

ITS-Davis is the leading university center in the world on sustainable transportation. Home to more than 60 affiliated faculty and researchers and 120 graduate students, the Institute’s interdisciplinary scientific research and policy analysis supports California state and U.S. government policy development on advanced clean vehicles, fuels and land use planning. ITS-Davis recently was awarded an $11.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and other matching entities to lead the National Center for Sustainable Transportation.

ITS-Davis established the China Center for Energy and Transportation in partnership with leading Chinese universities. C-CET specializes in China and transportation sector energy issues and is the only Chinese research center on transportation and energy in North America. C-CET is a two-way learning and research center, facilitating study and research in China for U.S. graduate students and faculty, as well as inviting Chinese researchers and students to visit and study at UC Davis.

The UC Davis Policy Institute leverages world-class university expertise and engages directly with decision-makers to deliver credible, relevant, and timely information and analysis to inform better energy and environmental policy.

The PH&EV Research Center At ITS-Davis collaborates closely with California utilities, the Electric Power Research Institute, automakers, and other research institutions on research aimed at developing a sustainable market for plug-in vehicles.


Created by the Chinese government to manage its automotive industry and provide technical support to the government, CATARC acts as an independent, impartial institution. It advises on the formation of automotive standards and regulations; conducts product certification and testing; certifies quality control systems; carries out industry planning and policy research; provides information services; and conducts scientific research.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

Additional information:
* ITS’ GreenLight blog and more information:
* Press kit: Read the MOU and download photos:
* Related: New center to prepare national transportation for extreme weather, climate change:
* Related: Blue Planet Prize awarded to UC Davis transportation expert:

1 Comment

  • Reply September 10, 2014

    Dean Hovey

    As encouraging as ZEV development may be, a wider impact on environmental health can be attained through development of mass transportation, including high-speed inter-city trains and intra-city light rail systems. If such systems are made widely available, take people where they want to go, and offer modern conveniences, people will use them.

    The contrary argument comes from a century of Motor City propaganda and effective efforts to undermine and eliminate intra-city rail systems. But it makes no sense to promote suburban sprawl and abandonment of otherwise viable communities by continuing to subsidize highway construction. Indeed, as highway infrastructure crumbles, it makes sense to shift investment to alternative systems.

    Here in Metro Detroit, a public-private partnership is slowly moving toward construction of a 3.3-mile streetcar connecting downtown Detroit’s People Mover with the railway station in the city’s New Center, which serves Amtrak. A more ambitious rail project was dropped in favor of a bus system connecting Detroit and the suburbs.
    Studies show that commuter rail transportation can work; furthermore, they show how they can be designed to work. Many cities have taken up transit planning along these lines. What’s missing is a robust federal initiative, with an equally robust information campaign to identify the many benefits to local and regional transportation and commerce.

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