China could soon join the United Kingdom and France in pledging to ban the sale of cars powered solely by an internal combustion engine.
Unlike the U.K. and France which have set 2040 as a deadline, China is still deciding on its own date. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also recently revealed that non-electrified cars will be phased out in Germany but wouldn’t say when.
Given the size and diversity of the Chinese market, the date will likely be later than 2040, industry watchers estimate.
Officials are working closely with regulators to form a plan, Xin Guobin, China’s vice minister of industry and information, said Saturday at the 2017 International Forum on Chinese Automotive Industry Development in Tianjin, Bloomberg reports.
China is the world biggest market for new cars, by a significant margin, and all projections see sales only growing with time. It means any ban will have profound effects on most automakers’ lineups in the coming future.
Already we’ve seen automakers forced to add plug-in hybrid and electric cars just to maintain licenses to sell cars in China. The latest is Honda which used the Tianjin forum to announce a China-exclusive electric car.
The push for vehicles with low to zero emissions by the Chinese government is aimed at curbing pollution as well as oil imports. It’s also a way to help local automakers investing heavily in vehicle electrification by adding demand. Some of those automakers include Warren Buffett-backed BYD as well as startups Arcfox, Nio and Techrules.