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China to ban petrol and diesel vehicles; timeline in development

Sales of petrol and diesel cars are to be banned in China as the country follows similar commitments made by France and Britain.

The industry ministry is developing a timetable to end the production and sale of traditional fuel cars and will promote the development of electric technology, state media said.

The reports gave no possible target date, but Beijing is stepping up pressure on car makers to push on with the development of electrics.

Both the UK and France have set 2040 as the date to phase out combustion-engine vehicles, while France has also pledged to phase out oil and gas production by the same date.

China is the biggest car market by number of vehicles sold, giving any policy changes outsize importance for the global industry.

Xin Guobin, a deputy industry minister, told a car industry forum on Saturday that his ministry had begun “research on formulating a timetable to stop production and sales of traditional energy vehicles”, according to the Xinhua News Agency and the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily.

Communist leaders also want to curb China’s growing appetite for imported oil and see electric cars as a promising industry in which their country can take an early lead. China passed the United States last year as the biggest electric car market.

Sales of electrics and gasoline-electric hybrids rose 50 per cent over 2015 to 336,000 vehicles - 40 per cent of global demand. US sales totalled 159,620.

The reports of Mr Xin’s comments in the eastern city of Tianjin gave no other details about electric car policy, but cited him as saying Beijing plans to “elevate new energy vehicles to a new strategic level”.

Beijing has supported electric development with billions in research subsidies and incentives to buyers, but is switching to a quota system that will shift the financial burden to car makers.

Under the proposed quotas, electric and hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles would have to make up eight per cent of each car maker’s output next year, 10 per cent in 2019 and 12 per cent in 2020.

Car makers that fail to meet their target could buy credits from competitors that have a surplus.

Beijing has ordered state-owned Chinese power companies to speed up installation of charging stations to increase the appeal of electrics.

Chinese manufacturer BYD Auto, a unit of battery maker BYD, is the world’s biggest electric-vehicle maker by number of units sold.

It sells petrol-electric hybrid saloons and SUVs in China and markets all-electric taxis and buses in the United States, Europe and Latin America, as well as at home in China.

Volvo Cars, owned by China’s Geely Holding Group, announced plans this year to make electric cars in China for global sale starting in 2019.

General Motors, Volkswagen, Nissan and others have announced they are launching or looking at joint ventures with Chinese partners to develop and manufacture electric vehicles in China.

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