TOKYO • Japan may ban sales of new petrol-engine cars by the mid-2030s in favour of hybrid or electric vehicles, public broadcaster NHK reported yesterday, aligning it with other countries and regions that are imposing curbs on fossil fuel vehicles.
The move would follow Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's pledge in October for Japan to slash carbon emissions to zero on a net basis by 2050 and make the country the second G-7 nation to set a deadline for phasing out petrol vehicles in a little over two weeks.
The industry ministry will map out a plan by the year-end, chief government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said yesterday.
The likelihood of state interventions to lower carbon emissions is fuelling a technological race among carmakers to build electric cars and hybrid petrol-electric vehicles that will lure drivers as they switch from petrol models, particularly in the world's two biggest auto markets, China and the United States.
Measures already in place in Japan mean its automakers, particularly big ones such as Toyota Motor with greater research and development resources, could use electric vehicle technology they have already developed at home.
Nissan Motor's chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta last month said the company was ready to respond to Britain's decision to hasten a phase-out date for new petrol and diesel powered cars and vans by five years to 2030 because it was part of a global trend.
Japan's industry ministry is considering requiring all new vehicles to be electric, including hybrid vehicles, NHK reported earlier.
Toyota, Honda Motor, Nissan and its alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors declined to comment.
The share of electric vehicles in Japan is expected to rise to 55 per cent in 2030, Boston Consulting Group said in a report on prospects for battery-powered cars. Globally, "the speed of expansion of the share of electric vehicles will accelerate due to the fact that battery prices are falling more rapidly than expected", it added.