China to ban sale of fossil fuel cars in electric vehicle push

BEIJING • China will set a deadline for carmakers to end sales of vehicles powered by fossil fuel, in a move to push companies to ramp up efforts to develop electric vehicles for the world's biggest car market.

Vice-Minister of Industry and Information Technology Xin Guobin said the government was working with other regulators on a timetable to end production and sales.

The move will have a profound impact on the environment and growth of China's car industry, Mr Xin said at an automobile forum in Tianjin last Saturday.

China, in an effort to meet its promise to cap carbon emissions by 2030, is the latest country to unveil plans to phase out vehicles that run on fossil fuels.

Britain said in July that it would ban sales of diesel- and petrol-fuelled cars by 2040, two weeks after France announced a similar plan to reduce air pollution and meet targets to keep global warming below 2 deg C.

A ban on combustion-engine vehicles should help encourage both Chinese and global carmakers to shift towards electric vehicles - a carrot-and-stick approach that could boost sales of energy-efficient cars and trucks and reduce air pollution, while serving the strategic goal of cutting oil imports.

The Chinese government offers generous subsidies to makers of new-energy vehicles. It also plans to require carmakers to earn enough credits or buy them from competitors with a surplus, under a new cap-and-trade programme for fuel economy and emissions.

Honda's chief operating officer for China, Mr Yasuhide Mizuno, said at the same forum that it would launch an electric car for the market there next year. The Japanese carmaker is developing the vehicle with Chinese joint ventures of Guangqi Honda Automobile and Dongfeng Honda Automobile, and will create a new brand with them, he said.

Meanwhile, Internet entrepreneur William Li's Nio plans to start selling ES8, a sport utility vehicle powered with only batteries, in mid-December. The start-up is working with state-owned Anhui Jianghuai Automobile, which is also in a venture with Volkswagen to introduce an electric SUV next year.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2017, with the headline 'China to ban sale of fossil fuel cars in electric vehicle push'. Print Edition | Subscribe