By on December 24, 2010

China’s Capital Beijing received a largely unwanted Christmas present yesterday: Drastic curbs on new car registrations. “Under the new regulations, vehicles purchased starting today will be subject to strict new restrictions,” reports Global Times, “setting off a last-minute, car-buying spree last night.”

  • The city will license only 240,000 new vehicles next year, and buyers of new cars will have to apply for license plates by means of a lottery. This quota is about a third of the 700,000 new cars that have hit Beijing roads this year.
  • Only permanent residents of Beijing, as well as “military servicemen, foreigners, residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan” are eligible to apply for license plates.
  • Cars not licensed in Beijing will be barred from entering the main city area during rush hours on work days.
  • Beijing municipal government agencies and public institutions will not increase the size of their motor vehicle fleets during the next five years.
  • A Beijing driver will be permitted to own only one car in his or her name.
  • Car owners who replace their old vehicles will be automatically given new car plates and do not have to take part in the lot-drawing.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) protested, saying that the new restrictions are unfair, and that the limit on auto purchases will have a negative impact on the general economy in China. The resale value of my car in the downstairs garage in Beijing however exploded overnight.

Grouching Beijingers have themselves to blame: Earlier this month, the Municipal Commission of Transport released a draft plan on clearing traffic congestion, which was posted online to gauge public reaction from Dec 13 to 19. More than 3,000 responses were received from members of the public and only 5.8 percent of the respondents opposed the plan. However, the plan had mentioned nothing a bout a drastic limitation.

Even before the earlier draft plan was published, rumors of limits ran rampant in Beijing over the last two months, prompting a reverse effect: Sales of cars in Beijing reached 96,000 units last month, an increase of 24,000, or up 33 percent, says the CAAM. A total of 30,000 new vehicles were licensed in the past week alone, the Xinhua News Agency reports. Car ownership in the city has surged to 4.7 million vehicles this year from 2.6 million in 2005. Yet, this represents a car density of only 210 per thousand in China’s second most populous city. The average in China is 63 per thousand. The average in the U.S.A. is more than 800 cars per thousand.

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5 Comments on “Beijing Hands Down Harsh Measures Against New Cars...”

  • avatar

    It may be possible that predictions of huge growth in car ownership and use in China (and India) are going to turn out to be wrong simply because such countries have only so much space to accommodate cars. Their cities are relatively well-developed and were developed without “saving” the vast areas heavy car use requires.  Whereas our cities were developed with car use a top priority.
    Since they can also see how western nations cripple themselves by pouring wealth into private car use, perhaps they will soon decide to allocate their resources to far more efficient systems such as mass transit.  And ramp up sales of cars to the dumb North Americans just to seal the global power deal.

    • 0 avatar

      Limitations on car ownership are nothing new. Many cities the world over that found themselves suddenly swamped by cars have enacted them in the past, and they relaxed them when the infrastructure caught up.
      I lived in one of the world’s most car-hostile city – Manhattan – for a quarter century. My garage fee was higher than the lease payments. All of this did not keep the U.S. to get to more than 800 cars per thousand.
      In China, the city that had enacted strict car limitation measures long ago, Shanghai, also happens to be the center of Chinese car production, and the city itself owns large parts of that production.
      I see China and India get to the car ownership levels that are considered normal the world over:  400 to 500 cars per thousand. According to my very conservative model, China will be there in the year 2025, with 685 million cars on the road.

  • avatar

    Talking about New York. What car density does it have because i doubt that it is 800 cars per 1000.

  • avatar

    Singapore has similar rules and higher costs. This is what happens when reality catches up with the fantasy of private vehicle ownership. Japan requires a parking space to be proven to exist for a car before it can be registered in certain areas.  I paid 300 a month for a spot and it came with dimensions too,  lest I try to register something bigger than the spot.

    In Singapore the Certificate of Entitlement ( CoE) usually costs more than the car.

  • avatar

    Those horrific scenes of the haze can’t be because of the cars can it? The density isn’t there. And what of truck traffic? With the growth rates, economic development and migratory patterns I’d wager that the so called relief will be minor at best.

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