China mulls petrol auto ban

Xin Guobin, the vice minister of transport in the world's largest vehicle market, told China's official news agency Xinhua, "Those measures will certainly bring profound changes for our auto industry's development". The ministry will work out the timetable, Xin said.

More than a dozen cities, including sprawling Beijing and Shanghai, have already taken steps to encourage sales of electrified vehicles. However, if the world's largest market were to join the party, things would change significantly - and that's precisely what seems bound to happen. Increased demand in China from a top-down ban would only add momentum to a worldwide explosion in electric vehicles.

China produced and sold more than 28 million vehicles past year, according to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.

There are indications that China is setting a deadline for automakers to end sales of fossil-fuel-powered cars in the country soon.

The share of cars powered by electric, hybrid and alternative fuels in France is small - about 4% - but growing fast.

The government did not give a date for the ban, but the announcement drove up the shares of automakers and lithium battery makers in Asia, with Chinese electric vehicle leader BYD closing 4.07 percent up in Shenzhen and Toyota up 1.22 percent in Tokyo.

Xin said the domestic auto industry faced "turbulent times" over the years to 2025 to make the switch towards new energy vehicles, and called on the country's car makers to adapt to the challenge and adjust their strategies accordingly.

China is also planning to introduce a credit system for automakers.

China has already vowed to cap its carbon emissions by 2030, so a combustion engine ban is a likely mix with that plan as the country fights extensive air pollution problems.

The world's second-biggest economy, which has vowed to cap its carbon emissions by 2030 and curb worsening air pollution, is the latest to join countries such as the United Kingdom and France seeking to phase out vehicles using gasoline and diesel.

  • Eleanor Harrison