Volkswagen, Europe's biggest automaker, plans to launch its first pure-electric car in China next year as Beijing steps up pressure on the industry to reduce reliance on gasoline.

The announcement Tuesday comes on the eve of the Shanghai auto show, which showcases industry efforts to create with consumer appeal. General Motors Co.'s Buick unit and Ford Motor Co. also have announced plans this year for new electric models in China.

The head of VW's China unit, Jochem Heizmann, said the electric car will be produced with a local partner. Heizmann said it will be the first in what VW plans as a full range of electric models.