The bulk of the smog choking Chinese cities is belched out by commercial trucks, but authorities have put off enforcing tougher emissions standards to spare small businesses the burden of paying for cleaner engines.
‘‘It is not a problem of technology. It’s more about consumer affordability. Increasing the emissions standard greatly increases the cost,’’ said John Zeng, Asia-Pacific director for LMC Automotive Ltd., a research firm. ‘‘Most buyers are small business owners, and they are very price-sensitive.’’
Upgrading to cleaner engines would cost about 20,000 yuan ($3,200), adding about 8 percent to a typical sticker price of a vehicle, according to Zeng.
The haze even inspired a song parody, widely circulated online. ‘‘Thick haze permeates every street in Beijing, the pollutant index is worse than the charts can read. I'm surrounded by buildings in a fairyland and I see people wearing masks all over the city,’’ go the lyrics. ‘‘Who is traveling in fog and who is crying in fog? Who is struggling in fog and who is suffocating in fog?’’
Associated Press writers Louise Watt and Joe McDonald and researchers Flora Ji and Yu Bing in Beijing contributed to this report.