China plans to ban cars that run on gasoline or diesel – Los Angeles Times
China plans to eventually ban vehicles powered by traditional fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, as the country looks to cast itself as a global leader of environmental initiatives and possibly become an auto-export powerhouse.
Xin Guobin, vice minister of industry and information technology, offered no clear timeline when he announced the plan over the weekend at a forum in the eastern port city of Tianjin. But he said the ban would greatly affect the environment and development of China’s homegrown auto industry, according to the state-run New China News Agency.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has become one of the most vocal advocates for the Paris accord, a 2016 global climate change initiative championed by President Obama. President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal this year.
China — which is the biggest investor in renewable energy, even as it’s still the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases — has vowed to cap its carbon emissions by 2030. The streets of Taiyuan, a manufacturing city in the heart of China’s coal country, already are filled with electric taxis.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, on a visit to China in June, rallied officials in private meetings and public events to focus on electric vehicles.
California aims to put 4 million to 5 million electric cars on the road by 2030, Brown said at a green tech event in Nanjing. “We aren’t going to get there until Chinese businesspeople, Chinese government leaders make it a priority to develop batteries and electric cars,” he said.
China, already the world’s largest car market, aims for annual sales of “new energy vehicles” — a category that includes electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles — to reach 7 million by 2025.
Some other countries have already announced bans similar to the one China is planning.
In July, Britain said it would ban the sale of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles beginning in 2040, though hybrids will still be allowed. France has said the same. India has the audacious goal of replacing or retrofitting all vehicles that have internal combustion engines by 2030. Mayors of cities including Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens have said they plan to ban diesel vehicles from their cities by 2025.
China’s decision is a boon for that nation’s industrial strategy, which seeks to bolster its economy with innovative technologies — often gleaned from foreign companies.
“The most important driver is not just environmental, it’s economic,” said Sophie Lu, Beijing-based China research head for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which analyzes energy markets. “Chinese regulators see the success of Tesla and other Californian companies, and want to promote the same success amongst Chinese car manufacturers.”
Global automakers also see their success in China. General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford Motor and Renault-Nissan are all expanding production of electric cars in Chinese cities or scouting out joint ventures to do so.
Tesla Inc. chief Elon Musk took a quiet trip to China in April, reportedly to push for a deal to make electric vehicles in Shanghai.
Last year, total vehicle sales in China reached 28 million, up 13.7% from the previous year, according to IHS Markit.
To tap into that market in a big way, U.S. automakers will need electric and electrified vehicles in their lineups, said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at AutoTrader.
“Regardless of what we do here in the U.S. on a federal level, U.S. automakers will continue to develop those vehicles because they can’t ignore the China market,” she said. “It’s huge, and it’s where their future growth and future profits will come from.”
Meyers is a special correspondent. Times staff writers Samantha Masunaga in Los Angeles and Russ Mitchell in San Francisco contributed to this report.
9:10 a.m.: This article was updated with comments from analyst Michelle Krebs.
This article was originally published at 8:35 a.m.