TOKYO -- Japan may ban sales of new combustion-engine cars by the mid-2030s in favor of hybrid or electric vehicles, public broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday, aligning it with other countries and regions that are imposing curbs on fossil-fuel vehicles.
The move would follow Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's pledge in October for Japan to cut carbon emissions to zero on a net basis by 2050 and make the country the second G7 nation to set a deadline for phasing out gasoline and diesel vehicles in a little over two weeks.
Japan's industry ministry will map out a plan by the year-end, chief government spokesman Katsunobu Kato told a news conference on Thursday.
The likelihood of state interventions to lower carbon emissions is fueling a technological race among automakers to build electric cars and hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles that will lure drivers as they switch from pure combustion models, particularly in the world's two biggest auto markets, China and the U.S.
Measures already in place in Japan mean Japanese automakers, particularly big ones such as Toyota with greater research and development resources, could use electric-vehicle technology they have already developed at home.
Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta last month told Reuters his company was ready to respond to Britain's decision to hasten a phase-out date for new gasoline and diesel-powered cars and vans by five years to 2030 because it was part of a global trend.