China announces an End to Fossil Fuel in Cars…or Did They?

Once upon a time, Automologist MAC lived in China. And now he brings news from that part of the world that rocked the automotive world. 

World headlines this week announced the impending end of combustion engines in cars as China, the world’s largest car market, seemingly announced that it would follow the likes of the UK and France in naming a date when there would be no more combustion-powered new cars available. Or did they?

Read also: UK announces Ban on new Petrol and Diesel Cars.

In fact, Chinese officials told the audience at a motor show in Tianjin that the government was working on a timetable to end the production and sales of traditional energy vehicles, and that the regulators have begun the “relevant research” on how they could go about this. So hurry up and wait, right?

So, even though this is not really a definitive announcement like the press seems to think, and although the details are currently sketchy at best, and there is no firm policy yet, we have to look past that and consider that this is an announcement made by the world’s largest passenger vehicle market, and it is declaring its intention to move away from fossil fuel. That is a very big deal indeed.

The trumpet blasts and clarion calls of the alternative power movement have been sounding ever louder as they trumpet the end of fossil fuel, and now they seem to be reaching a crescendo, somewhat sooner than many analysts predicted. It would seem that the nay-sayers have very much underestimated the ability of EVs to overcome the myriad of pitfalls that were predicted, but there is still a long way to go before EVs can truly replace combustion.

There are many countries that have announced timetables for the end of the sale of cars powered by fossil fuels—Holland, Norway, France, Britain and Germany, all have done it. But now, China has joined in and that may be the true tipping point. There is after all a big difference between encouraging the use of green technologies and actually announcing a timetable for the end to fossil fuel power.

In Europe, EVs are the hot thing, with announcements from the big automakers about the electrification of their product ranges coming thick, fast and furious, and all having HEV or BEV or PHEV programmes in place. The big three in the US, though, have been lagging behind with just a handful of options and no big announcements. Crucially, the big three have shifted much of their development work into China and it is now safe to say that the People’s Republic is clearly leading the US in the development of non-combustion powertrains.

So, the EV transition is with us and momentum seems to be building rapidly. And for those that can find ways to drive the cost of the batteries down, get charging networks into place, stop range anxiety and improve cyber-security, they are going to make a truck-load of money.

I am optimistic about it. For the sake of our children, we cannot go on burning fossil fuel or eating as many cows as we do. So, once people work out that there is a lot of money to be made out of it, even more brainpower and money will be put behind EVs and they will be with us probably a lot sooner than we would have previously believed.

Read also: China To Get Tough On Air Pollution, But The Cows Keep Farting!

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