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China to ban fossil-fuel vehicles, push EVs

Deadline for end of gasoline and diesel car production expected for 2040

Published: September 12, 2017, 10:30 PM
Updated: September 19, 2017, 5:45 AM

Beijing traffic

Electric Vehicles Charging

China is apparently setting a plan in motion to ban the sale of fossil-fuel powered vehicles in the country, as it continues its push to corner the market on electric vehicle production, according to various sources.

The country has long dealt with poor air quality in its largest cities, and as it becomes the world’s top automotive market, improvements in air quality look as if they need radical measures to prevail. The government has thrown a lot of money into its auto manufacturers’ electric vehicle programs, as well as EV battery production.

Speaking at an automotive forum recently, China’s vice minister of industry and information technology, Xin Guobin, said his government is studying a timeline for the elimination of sales of vehicles that run on gasoline or diesel (and presumably also natural gas) but did not provide a deadline.

Gasoline pump

China would not be the first country to ban the sale of those vehicles. France has earlier this year announced its commitment to end fossil-fuel vehicle sales in the country by 2040, and the United Kingdom followed up with its own announcement of phasing out sales also by 2040. Most of the announcements come as a result of attempting to meet Paris Climate Accord targets.

“Some countries have made a timeline for when to stop the production and sales of traditional fuel cars,” announced Xin. “The ministry has also started relevant research and will make such a timeline with relevant departments. Those measures will certainly bring profound changes for our car industry’s development.”

tailpipe emissions

The country has announced, though, that sales of light vehicles in the country must include at least 20% plug-in models (EVs or plug-in hybrids) by 2025. China currently provides high subsidies for makers of what’s now being termed “new-energy” vehicles.

Many of China’s automakers already make electric vehicles, and foreign makers are coming to the country to launch their own electric models either as China-only models or ahead of releasing those models in other parts of the world. Usually, those ventures are partnered up with Chinese automakers.

General Motors, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen all have introduced or announced plans to introduce new EVs in the Chinese market.

Combined Charging System plug

The biggest hurdle to overcome is, and has been for some time, vehicle range, with strategies meant to address the challenge ranging from improved infrastructure, to investment in battery technology to improve energy storage.