China will continue developing energy-saving and new-energy vehicles, with a focus on core technology and key components as the country plans to have 4.5 million energy charging stations by 2020, Premier Li Keqiang has said.

Growth in this sector will boost the upgrading of the automobile industry, enhance its competitiveness internationally, and promote sustainable development, Li said yesterday in a written instruction on a symposium about energy-saving and new-energy vehicles.

More improved policies should be rolled out, and innovative business models be explored to expand the market application of such vehicles, Li said.

Vice Premier Ma Kai said at the meeting that the government will build more charging facilities for new energy vehicles, and ensure fair competition, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

He said the auto industry should achieve breakthroughs in upgrading battery technology.

To promote greener growth, China has been encouraging the use of new energy vehicles with favourable policies, including tax cuts, price subsidies and free number plates.

In the first eight months of 2015, sales of such vehicles surged 270 per cent to 108,654, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

By 2020, China plans to have five million new energy vehicles on its roads as well as 4.5 million charging stations.