China has announced that—at some point in the future—it will ban the sale of cars with combustible engines powered by fossil fuels. No date has been set yet, but China would be by far the biggest market to make this kind of move.
"Some countries have made a timeline for when to stop the production and sales of traditional fuel cars," said Xin Guobin, vice minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, who by Chinese state media at an auto industry event in the northern coastal city of Tianjin on Saturday. Here, Xin was likely referencing the United Kingdom and France, which have announced they will ban new petrol and diesel cars starting in 2040.
"The ministry has also started relevant research and will make such a timeline with relevant departments. Those measures will certainly bring profound changes for our car industry's development," he said.
The announcement is only the latest dramatic move by the Chinese government, which for years has struggled with the in its major cities. The world's second largest economy has also taken a similarly direct approach with its coal power plants and green energy. The country is now home to and 12.4 gigawatts worth of coal projects in 2016.
The "profound" changes Xin speaks of would certainly be a boon to the Chinese electric car market, which has attracted foreigners like Elon Musk and Warren Buffet. The country, which has already announced a goal of capping carbon emissions by 2030, will likely want to see its local market start to emerge before it makes the drastic change. Recently, China aggressive sales quotas for electric cars to give global companies more time to prepare themselves.
"The implementation of the ban for such a big market like China can be later than 2040," Liu Zhijia, an assistant general manager at Chery Automobile Co., the country's biggest passenger car exporter, Bloomberg. "That will leave plenty of time for everyone to prepare."