Although Japan still has nothing to fear from China’s new push toward gasoline-electric hybrid engines and other advanced technology, there is definite forward motion toward a greener car industry in China. Spurred on by decreasing energy supplies and a truly horrible pollution problem, the central government has made it clear they now support and promote strong energy conservation efforts.

To that end, they are encouraging local and foreign automakers to help them get into the fast lane. While this is providing U.S. companies including GM with some interesting business opportunities, there is also a note of understandable caution about just how companies will share their advanced technology with the Chinese.

Still, as I see it, the priority China is giving to what is ultimately our best hope for the auto industry should be a clear signal to other countries – including our own – that there’s no turning back. Come on U.S. policymakers and corporations – get out of the slow lane and take this on full force!

We should be at the vanguard of what is clearly the way the industry is being driven. Not only is this smart for the environment, it’s smart business.

For more on this from the International Herald Tribune:

Chinese Carmakers Veer to Green