TOKYO—Japan said it planned to stop the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by the mid-2030s, bucking criticism by Toyota Motor Corp.’s chief that a rapid shift to electric vehicles could cripple the car industry.
The plan released Friday followed similar moves by the state of California and major European nations, but it has faced resistance from auto executives in a country that still makes millions of cars annually that run solely on gasoline engines.
Japan would still permit the sale of hybrid gas-electric cars after 2035 under the plan. Many models from Japan’s top car makers—Toyota, Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. —come in both traditional and hybrid versions.
Earlier this month, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said that if Japan banned gasoline-powered cars and moved to electric vehicles too hastily, “the current business model of the car industry is going to collapse.” He was speaking on behalf of Japanese auto makers in his role as head of a local industry association.
Mr. Toyoda said the electricity grid couldn’t handle extra summer demand and observed that most of Japan’s electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels.
Government officials said car makers needed to revise their business models. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pointed to a different portion of Mr. Toyoda’s comments in which the Toyota chief said he backed the government’s goal of making Japan carbon-neutral by 2050. Reducing carbon emissions “should be tackled as a strategy for growth, not as a limitation on growth,” Mr. Suga said.
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