China’s government is reportedly considering a relaxation of its rules applying to foreign inward investment in order to boost the EV market and sector in the country.

Bloomberg reports that Beijing is discussing a plan to allow foreign carmakers to set up wholly owned EV businesses in its free-trade zones. It would be a major change as China has insisted, since the 1990s, that foreign automakers operate with local partners in joint ventures.

The report said that the change could take place next year, although the final decision has yet to be made. Bloomberg cited anonymous sources in the report.

Such a policy relaxation could be good news for companies such as Tesla who may be looking to set up operations in China; under the new policy they would have much more control with wholly owned subsidiaries. Earlier this year it was reported that Tesla was in talks over a potential manufacturing site in Shanghai. However, some commentators have suggested that China’s free-trade zones are heavily geared to encourage exports and that operating from them to supply China’s domestic market may still require partnering with a local firm. The details accompanying any change to regulations will clearly need to be closely scrutinised by potential overseas investors.

A number of Western OEMs are working on EV partnerships with local partners in China.

China is planning a big push in EVs and plug-in hybrids and wants to quadrouple so-called New Energy Vehicle (NEV) sales to over 2m units by 2020.