China ban on fossil fuel car sales to create seismic shift in auto industry

11 Sep 2017

Chery EVs on display at the Beijing International New Energy Vehicle exhibition. Image: testing/Shutterstock

With an enormous population and industrial output, China’s plan to ban fossil fuel car sales in the near future could be game-changing.

China’s biggest car manufacturers are facing a seismic shift, with the help of the government, in a bid to drastically reduce the country’s carbon footprint in the decades to come.

According to Bloomberg, China’s vice minister of industry and information technology, Xin Guobin, has begun discussions with regulators on creating a timeline for when the sale of fossil fuel cars would be made illegal.

While there is no estimated date, a senior figure in the country’s largest passenger car manufacturer, Chery Automobile, said the likelihood is that it will be sometime after 2040, to leave plenty of time for the company and others to prepare.

Already, electric vehicles (EVs) have experienced a surge in ownership in China with the country’s largest EV manufacturer, BYD, shipping almost 47,000 emission-free cars so far this year.

Another manufacturer, BAIC Motor, has shipped just over 36,000 EVs under its clean division, Beijing Electric Vehicle.

By comparison, US companies attempting to make inroads into the Chinese market are failing miserably, with just 738 of EVs sold so far this year out of a total of 2.1m vehicles, including fossil fuel cars.

Joins other nations in ban promise

Speaking with Bloomberg, the vice-president of an EV start-up called Nio, Zhang Yang, said the promise of a future ban on fossil fuel cars will give the country’s auto industry a much-needed shake-up.

“This will ask everyone, from energy and technology sectors as well as traditional automakers, to change to the lane to develop new powertrains,” Zhang said.

“It’s hard to say who can be the winners at the moment. All of us should stand the test of speed and endurance in this run.”

While China is still hashing out the details of when it wants to start the process, other nations have already begun setting dates.

The UK revealed in July that it plans to stop the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2040, but Scotland insisted it was going to one-up the central government in London by announcing a ban by 2032.

But these still fall short of Norway’s promise – as one of the highest owners of EVs per capita – to ban sales of non-EVs within the next eight years.

Chery EVs on display at the Beijing International New Energy Vehicle exhibition. Image: testing/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic