Honda Motor plans to launch a new, purpose built, battery powered passenger vehicle in China next year in response to growing pressure from the government to promote sales of environmentally-friendly vehicles.

The Chinese government has indicated it may introduce minimum sales quotas for electric and electric hybrid vehicles as it tries to tackle the growing problem of air pollution in its main cities.

Honda's director of China operations, Yasuhide Mizuno, told reporters at the Shanghai motor show his company had stepped up its EV development programme and that a new electric vehicle was expected to reach showrooms towards the end of 2018.

Commercial production is expected to take place at a new plant owned by the Dongfeng Honda Automobile joint venture and currently under construction in the southern city of Wuhan. 

A range of purpose built, hybrid electric models is expected to follow. Honda also displayed a hybrid version of its CRV SUV at the show.

Other leading carmakers, including GM, Ford and Toyota, have announced stepped up EV and hybrid electric vehicle programmes in China in the last week in response to the expected government policy changes.