Say goodbye to gasoline. The world’s slow drift toward electric cars is about to enter full flood. China, one-third of the world’s car market, is working on a timetable to end sales of fossil-fuel-based vehicles, the country’s vice minister of industry and information technology, Xin Guobin, told an industry forum in Tianjin on Saturday. That would probably see the country join Norway, France and the U.K. in switching to a wholly electric fleet within the lifetime of most current drivers.
The announcement is important because the most influential players in the global auto market have always been not companies, but governments. Diesel cars make up about half of the market in the European Union and less than a percentage point in the U.S., largely because of different fuel-taxation and emissions regimes.
Carburetors have been regulated out of most developed markets because fuel injection — originally a more costly technology — results in less tailpipe pollution. Moves toward electrification of the world’s cars have been tentative.