Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, has voiced concerns about China's plan to ban cars powered by petrol and diesel engines.

Speaking at an event to mark her inclusion in Most Powerful Women list by Fortune in Washington DC last week, she clarified earlier comments about plans to accelerate the adoption of electric and partially electric cars in China.

According to The Detroit News, Barra stated: "Clearly we believe that the Chinese market will have the highest electric vehicles most quickly because of the regulatory environment.

“I think the point I was trying to make, and it kind of got spun into something a little different, is at the end of the day you still have to make customers happy and you have to fill their needs."

She also noted GM is "very committed to an all-electric future", and is encouraging the Chinese government to "make sure we’re creating the excitement and demand for electric vehicles as opposed to it just being mandated".

Above: Traffic Near Andingmen by Indi Samarajiva on Flickr.

Barra's comments come after Xin Guobin, China's vice minister of industry and technology, told Xinhua, the country's official news agency, in September it had begun working on a timetable for banning the sale of new cars powered by fossil fuels.

It's not known when China begin enacting such a ban. France has already announced it will ban new petrol and diesel vehicle sales by 2040, while the UK plans to stop sales of non-hybrid petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

The Chinese government has already stated a desire to have electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles account for 20 per cent of new car sales by 2025.

Current proposals target EVs and PHEVs to achieve an eight per cent market share in 2018, and 12 per cent slice of the market by 2020. Draft regulation has already been written up to facilitate this via a complex mandatory quota system for each automaker.

China has started an incentive program for "new energy" vehicles. It claims around 500,000 such cars were built and sold on Chinese soil in 2016, with a total fleet of over a million on the roads.

Last year, according to figures from the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, the country produced over 28 million cars, most of which were for local consumption.

Not only would the increased uptake of electric and partially electric cars help to slow climate change, it would also address the country's dangerously high levels of air pollution and reduce its dependence on imported oil.