The government is closer to a decision to ban sales of new gasoline-only cars in Japan in the mid-2030s, officials said Thursday, as part of efforts to reduce climate change-causing emissions in line with the global trend.
The goal, which would promote a shift to all-electric, fuel cell, and gasoline-electric and plug-in hybrid cars, comes as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pushes forward with his campaign to make Japan carbon emissions neutral by 2050.
A panel at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is set to include the target in its report to be compiled by the end of this year, they said.
The government views the promotion of low-emission vehicles as indispensable to achieving Suga's zero carbon target, as greenhouse gases emitted by vehicles in Japan comprised 16 percent of the total of such emissions in fiscal 2018.
Domestic sales of lower- or zero-emission cars, including hybrids, made up around 35 percent or some 1.51 million units of all cars sold in 2019, according to data by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.
Major Japanese automakers are already shifting their strategy to greener vehicles, with Toyota Motor Corp. planning to make more than 5.5 million units or over half of its vehicles sold globally partly or fully electrified, including hybrids and fuel cell vehicles, around 2025.
Honda Motor Co. is aiming for zero- or low-emissions vehicles to account for two-thirds of its global lineup by 2030.
Japan's initiative comes amid the global trend to reduce sales of gasoline-powered cars, notably in China, the world's biggest vehicle market, and Europe.
China is set to phase out sales of conventional gasoline cars by 2035. Britain last month moved up its target to ban sales of new gasoline and diesel cars by five years to 2030, while France aims to achieve it by 2040.
In the United States, the state of California is set to phase out sales of new gasoline cars by 2035.
The Japanese government said Tuesday in its action plan for growth strategy that it will boost investment in technologies to tackle climate change, including promoting zero- and low-emission vehicles and developing competitive automotive batteries.