China is following in the steps of many European countries in announcing its intentions to one day end the sale of new vehicles powered by fossil fuels. The country is speeding up the development of its own green car market by planning stringent quotas for carmakers and setting a longer-term aim to ban the production and sale of cars that use traditional fuels. This major shift won’t be easy, however, and General Motors CEO Mary Barra believes it will require support from the state government.
As it combats air pollution, China’s objectives for NEVs include that at least a fifth of auto sales by 2025 will be comprised of electric and plug-in hybrid cars. Barra commented on this timetable at an event in Shanghai, stating that she believes that the government will need to provide plenty of backing to win over consumers, according to Reuters. Although China is the world’s largest market for electrified cars, millions of consumers still choose cars powered by fossil fuels every year.
“While we are exploring all channels to boost NEV (new energy vehicle) sales, building raw consumer acceptance of NEVs will depend on continued joint effort between the government and automakers,” Barra said at a company event in Shanghai.
Countries with long-term plans to phase out the sale of fossil-fuel powered cars include Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France.
Although GM recently withdrew from the mainstream vehicle segments in Europe by selling its European Opel-Vauxhall unit to France’s PSA Groupe, it does have a significant presence in China. Barra said that China’s upcoming plans surrounding NEVs have caused it to make large investments in the future electrification, and GM is planning for 10 new electrified cars in China by 2020.
Barra exuded caution on moving too quickly, however. “It’s best when, instead of being mandated, customers are choosing the technology because it meets their needs.”