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China eases green rules for petrol-electric hybrids, giving makers space to manoeuvre

BEIJING (Reuters) – China re-classified petrol-electric hybrid vehicles on Monday so they get more favourable treatment than all-petrol or diesel counterparts under new clean car rules, making it easier for automakers to meet environment quotas and offer more choice.

China has some of the world’s strictest rules regarding the production of fossil-fuel vehicles, as it battles unhealthy levels of air pollution in its crowded cities.

Those rules have pushed both domestic and international automakers including Tesla Inc and Volkswagen AG to spend billions of dollars on the development and production of new energy vehicles (NEVs), such as all-electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Plug-in hybrid technology differs from that of petrol-electric hybrid vehicles.

Automakers in China are obliged to manufacture NEVs to win “points” to make up for a portion of the negative points they incur when they produce internal combustion engine vehicles.

However, the system has been

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