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"Some countries have made a timeline for when to stop the production and sales of traditional fuel cars", said industry vice-minister Xin Guobin, quoted in an article on official news website Xinhua and reported by Reuters.

Banning the sale of petrol- and diesel-powered cars would have a significant impact on oil demand in China, the world's second-largest oil consumer. The ministry will work out the timetable, Xin said.

Chinese authorities plan to ban the production of cars with petrol and diesel engines.

Shares in electric and new-energy vehicle makers rose following the report.

China is the biggest auto market by number of vehicles sold, giving any policy changes outsize importance for the global industry.

The push for vehicles with low to zero emissions by the Chinese government is aimed at curbing pollution as well as oil imports.

It is also the largest producer of and market for new-energy vehicles, with more than 500,000 built and sold a year ago.

Last year, China accounted for more than 40% of the 753,000 electric vehicles sold worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency.

China has already proposed a plan by which manufacturers have to increase the share of electric and hybrid petrol-electric vehicles to 12 percent by 2020. Nicolas Hulot, France's ecology minister, stated that "the conditions are there", even though he didn't elaborate on how this plan would be enforced.

The world's second-biggest economy, which has vowed to cap its carbon emissions by 2030 and curb worsening air pollution, is the latest to join countries such as the United Kingdom and France seeking to phase out vehicles using gasoline and diesel.

China will soon unveil a mandatory cap-and-trade credit programme for electric cars, starting the countdown for carmakers to be in compliance with stricter rules on emissions and fuel economy, according to the country's state-backed auto association. Volvo announced that all its cars will be electric or hybrid from 2019.