By on May 12, 2010

Slowdown in Chinese car sales? Unheard of, as far as Beijing is concerned. In the beginning of the year, Beijing had 4m cars. By the end of the year, the Chinese capital is expected to have 5 million cars on the roads. That’s the educated guess of the government, as reported by Gasgoo.

In the first four months of the year, a total of 248,000 cars were registered in Beijing, the Beijing municipal taxation office, collector of auto purchasing taxes, says.

15,500 new cars go on the city’s roads every week. That’s twice the old rate of 1000 cars per day. In 1949, there were about 2,300 cars in Beijing. It took Beijing nearly half a century to reach one-million cars in 1997. The second million was reached in 2003. The third million was registered in 2007. When the fourth million was reached by the beginning of this year, the official estimate was that it would take until 2015 to surpass the 5 million mark. That estimation is out of the window.

When we reported the 4 million cars last October, we mentioned that Beijing has 17m people. That number is also out of the window. The number is now officially “more than 22 million.” Supposedly, the city is constructed for a maximum of 18m.

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10 Comments on “Beijing Adds Another Million Cars This Year...”

  • avatar

    No wonder GM, Ford, BMW and Mercedes are falling all over each other to pump out the cars for this incredible growth market. There were less ess than a million cars in Beijing in 1998. So much for the bicycle. Let’s see how China handles this car and people explosion.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    Is China adding the road capacity for all these new cars? It seems to me that there is no way to add capacity fast enough, especially in a dense, well-established city. Do people buy cars just to own them?

    I’m not sure Americans quite understand some of the cultural norms in China. I have a lot of Chinese friends that have lived in the US for long periods of time (a couple decades). They go back to visit from time to time and whenever they come back they always talk about how strange China has become to them. Keeping up with the Jones’ is taken to the illogical extreme over there. Or at least that is how the Americanized Chinese see it. We’ve got nothing on their desire to project an image of wealth.

    Which of course leads me to wonder how many of the cars being sold in China are actually being used on a day to day basis and how many are just sitting around so their owners can brag about owning them.

    • 0 avatar

      As for adding the road capacity for all these new cars, China seems to have enough authoritarianism left to keep NIMBYism from being an issue.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t get it. Americans have learned too well the folly of relying on the automobile for urban transport, yet China is merrily cramming millions of cars into Bejing. Can’t decide if the fact that they’re not smarter than we are is comforting or depressing.

    • 0 avatar

      These cars are being used, you can believe that. I was in BJ last year April, then went back this April, and you can tell the difference. Living day-to-day in Shanghai, it’s tough to tell, but you feel it in the busy spots. BJ traffic is legendary; these things ain’t sitting in underground lots. As for adding road capacity, not sure about BJ but SH has a whole slew of new tunnels and roads opened this year, with more to come.

    • 0 avatar

      China has poured some $700b into infrastructure projects instead of TARP programs. Buys a lot of blacktop and concrete.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe the technical term for $700b is “a metric shit-ton.” Two new tunnels and three new roads right outside my apartment (and right downtown) where 14 months ago there was basically nothing.

  • avatar

    Turnpikes and huge numbers of paybooths are needed. 2012 is getting closer.

  • avatar


    The meltdown is going to be spectacular.

  • avatar

    Nah, we Americans ought to be taking notice and preparing ourselves for $8 gasoline. Competition for the world’s raw materials ‘ya know?

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