Tokyo, Dec. 3 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government is considering banning sales of new gasoline vehicles in the mid-2030s, informed sources said Thursday.
The ban on new gasoline-only vehicles is expected to be a key measure to realize Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s goal of achieving effectively zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
After the introduction of the ban, however, the Japanese auto industry will still be able to produce gasoline engines because sales of new gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles will be permitted, the sources also said.
If gasoline engines are to be made extinct, a huge number of people involved in their production, many of whom are workers at small and midsize companies, will inevitably lose their jobs.
The Suga administration hopes to protect their jobs while reducing heat-trapping gas emissions, the sources noted.
The administration decided to leave hybrid vehicles intact also because it wants domestic automakers to maintain their technical advantage for combustion engines against their foreign rivals, they added.
If biofuels from plants become widely available for vehicles in the future, the makers can contribute to substantially reducing the burden on the environment by producing engines that use the eco-friendly fuels.
“Various technical options should be kept open,” a senior official of the industry ministry said.
The ministry is expected to hold a meeting with experts and officials of automakers to explain the proposed gasoline vehicle sales restriction and consider how to incorporate the measure into a carbon neutrality action program the government plans to draw up later this month.
Currently, the government is trying to increase the share of hybrid, electric and other next-generation models in the new passenger car market to 50-70 pct by 2030.
But given the fact that the share remained at about 40 pct last year, the government has found it necessary to adopt a tougher measure to boost efforts to meet the 2050 goal, people familiar with the matter said.
Moves to restrict sales of gasoline vehicles are accelerating overseas. But methodologies vary.
Britain and California are set to ban sales of new gasoline vehicles including hybrids by 2035.
Meanwhile, China plans to terminate sales of gasoline models and bring up the sales share of what it calls “new energy autos” including electric vehicles to over 50 pct in and after that year. But it will keep allowing hybrid sales.