Manufacturers reject bus rules
Domestic vehicle manufacturers are split on whether the mainland should adopt US standards on school buses, in the wake of several fatal accidents.
Premier Wen Jiabao has vowed to attach high importance to the safety of school buses, and ordered related authorities to complete legislation within a month.
There has been a public outcry for better bus safety after 19 kindergarten pupils and two adults were killed when their overloaded vehicle hit a coal truck head-on in Gansu in mid-November,
In response, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology posted draft technical regulations for school buses on its website on December 26 for a public consultation, which ended yesterday. The rules will be reviewed on Wednesday and Thursday, the 21st Century Business Herald reported.
At a meeting organised by 10 ministries in Beijing last week, car manufacturers complained the proposed standards, based on US regulations, were 'not suitable for the realities in China', the newspaper said.
The draft regulations say Chinese school buses should follow the US model, in the 'long-nose' shape, meaning that at least half of the engines protrude beyond the front windows. And bumpers must be at least half a centimetre thick.
Buses must be programmed to stay under 60km/h, have stairs that are at least 70cm high, and pass stringent tests on how safe they would be if they overturned.
Most car manufacturers said adopting the new standards would increase costs by 20 to 30 per cent, and some said they simply could not produce such high-quality vehicles.
They also complained the new regulations were drafted by the Yutong Group, China's largest bus producer, which specialises in big coaches. They accused Yutong of ignoring the limitations of small enterprises.
Zhou Huici, a senior manager at Yutong, told the meeting school buses should be double-deckers and 13.7 metres long.
But an official from the Ministry of Transport said the new standard should require buses be only five to 10 metres long, because there was more demand for school buses in rural areas, and big coaches could not cope with village roads.
Industry analyst Jia Xinguang said China needed 1.5 million to two million school buses, and it would cost hundreds of billions of yuan to buy new ones made to the specifications of the new regulations.
The number of students in the nine-seat minivan which crashed head-on with a truck in Gansu province killing 19 children and two adults