By Norihiko Shirouzu
BEIJING (Reuters) – China is likely to delay implementing tough new sales quotas for electric plug-in vehicles, giving global automakers more time to prepare, four automaker and industry officials told Reuters.
Based on their conversations with Chinese policymakers, the people said a final scheme for sales quotas on electric plug-in cars could be introduced within days or weeks.
But they would not be enforced until 2019, a year later than initially planned, said the people, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, cautioning that things could still change.
Global automotive manufacturers wrote to the head of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in June, urging a softening of the proposals for so-called new energy vehicles (NEVs), which cover all-electric battery vehicles and mainly electric plug-in hybrids.
Keen to combat air pollution and close a competitive gap between its newer domestic automakers and their global rivals, China wants to set goals for electric and plug-in hybrid cars to make up at least a fifth of Chinese auto sales by 2025.
Under latest proposals, 8 percent of automakers’ sales would have to be battery electric or plug-in hybrid models by next year, rising to 10 percent in 2019 and 12 percent in 2020.
Automakers have sought to delay bringing in the quotas, a more flexible system of credits, and want China to reconsider penalties for not reaching the quotas.
China would most likely introduce NEV sales quotas for 2018, but not implement them until a year later, the four people said, indicating automakers would not be penalized if they fail to meet the new quotas straightaway.
The MIIT did not respond to requests for comment.
The final version of the sales quota scheme could be unveiled “soon, as the public comments phase is over and the draft has been reviewed a final time by the NDRC, MOFCOM and AQSIQ,” one of the officials said, referring to the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top regulator, the Ministry of Commerce, and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, a regulatory agency.
“That ‘soon’ could for all I know be as soon as this week or by the end of September,” the person said.
(Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu, with additional reporting by Cheng Fang in BEIJING; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)