By on October 24, 2008

“Brakes come off auto sales” the semi-official, English-writing Chinese newspaper China Daily headlines today. “Beijing car sales, which account for about a tenth of the national tally, are surging this month after the end of Olympic traffic controls and because of rumors about new caps on vehicle numbers, ” reports the newspaper, citing the head of China’s largest car dealer. Beijing Asian Games Village Automobile Exchange, an 80k unit megadealer in China’s capital, has seen sales increases of 30 percent this month, and there’s still another week to go. Beijing’s buyers are stampeding back to the showrooms, after half of the cars had been banned from Beijing’s streets during the Olympics. Following the Olympics, a Kafkaesque car ban on Beijing’s byways and highways was instated, driving demand for second cars. Or for two cars at a time. Rumors that Beijing’s city government could limit new vehicle registrations to 100k a year, about a third of the city’s average annual vehicle sales, also unleashed a storming of the showrooms. “We don’t know how the rumor started or whether it’s true, but it’s certainly working in terms of boosting sales,”  said Su Hui, General Manager of the megadealer.

So far, the only city in China which rations vehicle ownership is Shanghai, a.k.a. Gridlock-City. In Shanghai, each month 5k to 6k license plates are auctioned off. Shanghai plates are fetching higher prices than small cars. According to the official news agency Xinhua, the average price of a Shanghai plate is 47,711 yuan ($6253),. Chery’s QQ subcompact, one of China’s Top Ten sellers, goes for 39,800 yuan.  Shanghai’s scheme hasn’t done more than boosting the city’s budget: Motorists simply register in other towns. If America runs out of ideas of how to jump-start the auto business, maybe they could rip that page from China’s playbook. Or not.

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3 Comments on “Beijing’s 30% New Car Sales Surge Explained...”

  • avatar

    If the impending CAFE regulations were sped up, and the car buying public caught a glimpse of the offerings when it is in place, I could see sales going up 50%. That’s providing they made those cars ugly and itty-bitty, or hardly able to make it up hills loaded-up.
    “The citizens who insist on driving large, unnecessarily powerful cars must expect to pay more for that luxury.” Jimmy Carter, April 1977
    My dad said that statement alone probably increased car sales the rest of the year quite a bit… he bought when he otherwise wouldn’t too. Threats of taking things away and replacing them with things we don’t want do wonders.

  • avatar

    If anyone wants the gory details of the Kafkaesque auto ban, which blows even the minds of the mathematically superior Chinese, kindly peruse Bertel’s Brivate Blog …

  • avatar

    Disclosure: I’m a pig. A swine. A hydrocarbon oinker. My raceboat is powered by a MercuryRacing HP525, a marinized (marinated?) 502 CID version of the Chevy Big Block. At WOT (or what I call “on”,) it gets me a tad over a mile a gallon. (The F250 that pulls the trailer doesn’t get much more …) A cat? We need no stinking cat. In our world, a cat is a boat with two of those engines. And a super cat is a boat with two blown monsters that blow after two one hour races. Muffler? What? I can’t hear you. I confess, I should be taken out to the rainforest and shot. In the meantime, I pay a pennance of $100 just to get me to the gas dock and back …..

    But let’s face it: The Pickup/SUV exclusion from CAFE was a loophole as big as a barndoor. It led to automotive pornography: More than half of US auto sales were – until recently – “light trucks.” According to a belated, but nevertheless educational article in the WSJ, ” several years ago Ford even considered dropping cars altogether because they weren’t profitable, and focusing entirely on trucks.” That was when I had a subscription on an Expedition. Every two years in April, Otis Ford in Quogue, NY, drove a new black one on my driveway without even asking.

    In the meantime, fuel-sipping diesel engines are all the rage in Europe. And if you think those turbocharged little rascals have a hard time getting up the hill, try a Touareg V10 TDI with 553 lb-ft of torque – so much that they had to put a chip in the tranny that keeps it from being ripped apart by the engine. EPA fuel efficiency 23 mpg on the highway. You can have your SUV, and eat too.

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