The Chinese government has stated that it is looking at ending the sale of gasoline cars within the country. While no timeline has been established, the Chinese government is putting increased pressure on automakers to continue to develop electric vehicles.
China follows in the steps of France and the United Kingdom, both of whom announced earlier this year that they planned to phase out sales of gasoline and diesel automobiles by 2040. The ostensible reason for doing so is to improve air quality that is currently impaired by the gases emanating from automobile tailpipes.
China’s automobile market is the largest in the world in terms of numbers of cars sold, so any changes that affect the Chinese market will have worldwide ramifications. Foreign automakers that want to remain competitive in China will be forced to develop electric vehicles, which will allow them to sell those same cars in their domestic markets.
China is already the world’s largest for electric vehicles and hybrids, with more than double the number of hybrid and electric cars being sold in China as in the United States. Another factor behind China’s push for electric vehicles is to reduce the country’s demand for imported oil, reducing the impact of oil prices on the domestic economy and minimizing the country’s exposure to geopolitical events surrounding oil markets.
The Chinese government may also want to reduce smog levels within the country, something for which Beijing, in particular, is renowned. China is already the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide, producing 30% of the world’s total, double that of the United States.
The effects of electric vehicles on reducing greenhouse gas production may be minimal, however, as electricity production is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gases as well. In the United States, for example, electricity production accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas production. Countries that try to eliminate car tailpipe emissions may just end up shifting the production of pollutants further upstream from car owners.