China is gearing up to ban the sale of combustion-engine vehicles in a move that would have a huge impact on the global auto industry. Government officials added, though, there was no date yet for such a measure.
A China ban on the sale of gasoline and diesel cars would be a boost to the makers of electric vehicles and shake up the auto industry not only in the world's second-biggest, but pollution-plagued economy.
The plan would follow decisions by France and Britain to outlaw combustion-engine vehicles from 2040 to clamp down on harmful emissions.
Xin Guabin, vice minister of industry and information technology, told a forum in the northern city of Tianjin that his colleagues had started "relevant research" and were working on a timetable for a ban in China.
While the government did not give a date for such a measure to be enacted, the announcement on Monday drove up the shares of Chinese automakers, with domestic e-car leader BYD seeing its stock soar by over 7 percent.
Long way to go
"These measures will promote profound changes in the environment and give momentum to China's auto industry development," Xin said in remarks broadcast by CCTV state television.
"Enterprises should strive to improve the level of energy-saving for traditional cars and vigorously develop new-energy vehicles according to assessment requirements."
The head of the National Passenger Car Association, Cui Dongshu, warned it would be hard to stop producing fuel-powered vehicles "for the next decade or two decades."
"We may make significant headway in passenger cars by 2040 or even earlier, but for other products like heavy duty trucks it would be difficult."
China produced and shifted more than 28 million vehicles last year. The sale of new-energy cars topped 500,000 in 2016, over 50 percent more than in the previous 12 months.
hg/jd (AFP, Reuters)