By on December 4, 2010

Beijingers who shop for a car increasingly find themselves SOL. Dealers report a shortage of cars. Especially scarce: inventories of Volkswagens, China’s largest passenger car brand. “I have to turn to another auto brand for not being able to get a single car of Volkswagen’s for five months,” a customer named Li Guang complained to China’s Global Times. The paper reports delivery times of 3 months for China-made Polos, Sagitars (formerly known as Jetta) and Magotan (known as the Passat B6 in other countries.) Now, Beijing’s car dealers are pouring more oil on the fire. The rumor mill is ablaze with talk that Volkswagen might postpone its car supply to Beijing’s auto market for January next year, because Beijing might launch new car registration limit policies at that time. The result?

A run on dealerships. Other auto brands in Beijing also face inventory shortages. Sales of GAC-Honda’s City in Beijing exploded in November, and local dealers had to get vehicles from other cities. On top of it, Honda, Dongfeng Peugeot and Dongfeng Yueda Kia are planning a dealer cull.

In order to reduce the traffic pressure in Beijing, there is one day in the week where my car must stay in the garage. This is based on a byzantine system that is based on the last digit of your license plate. It increased car sales even more: People bought a second car with a different digit. Beijing drowns in cars. Every day, more than 1000 cars are newly registered in the city. Last year, Beijing added more than 400,000 cars. Now the rumor is that Beijing will only register 100,000 car plates in 2011.

There is precedence: In Shanghai, there is only a set number of new license plates available (between 5000 and 6000 a month) and they are auctioned off. A plate can cost more than a small car: $5,000 to $6,000 a plate are not unheard of.

Not a peep from the city government on this. Usually, impending measures are being discussed for a while. It usually starts with a professor of a famous university to make a suggestion. Experts weigh in with interviews and op-ed articles. Chatrooms and blogs go back and forth. The pulse of the population is taken, and if there is too much opposition, the measure is quietly scrapped. Nothing of that kind on the radar screen. My contacts at Volkswagen Beijing likewise deny any knowledge of such a scheme.

Which brings the usually well informed Global Times to the conclusion: “Experts say the rumor might be auto dealers’ plot due to sales target pressure.”

Is it Snopes-material? Or is it true? We’ll know in January. My take: Snopes.

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21 Comments on “Beijing Runs Out Of Cars, Beijingers Mob Dealerships...”

  • avatar

    “In Shanghai, there is only a set number of new license plates available (between 5000 and 6000 a month) and they are auctioned off.”

    Couldn’t someone just buy a car in another city, or does the law require you to display plates from the city of your legal residence?

  • avatar

    An idea this elitist and punitive to the working classes is bound to find favor in the US left.

    • 0 avatar

      @ opened it, now here’s your reality check

      Wow, time to put the crack pipe down, you’re hallucinating again. Who’s holding our government hostage over insisting on tax cuts for millionaires? The “left”? Hardly. 

      If you can read, I beleive the article says that Bejing is “drowning” in cars…I’m not saying that this auction is the best solution, but isn’t it just like someone on “the right” to b*tch about ANY attempt to thwart their (self-proclaimed) God-given right to do exactly as they please (public good be damned, other’s needs be damned), cuz I wanna, I wanna…and I’ll hold my breath until I get to do whatever I want…you can’t make me, waaaah!!!!

      And as a byproduct of the license auction, it sounds like only the rich do*ches are going to get to drive… hey, just what the “right” wants, a world controlled by the well-connected “haves” while the have-nots are S.O.L and live in perpetual servitude….wow, China and the US really do have so much in common.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks Frisco for my reality check. I had almost forgotten that progressives’ puppets are brainwashed to learn only from rhetoric and ignore the obvious consequences of every left wing program. Who do you think is hurt the most by California’s automotive policies; from high registration fees, to expensive gas that delivers less mileage, to smog checks that drive up ownership costs, to scrappage programs that set a minumum price for functioning vehicles, to fine schedules that make moving violations more costly than violent crime convictions, to incremental emissions standards adjustments that make all new cars more expensive, and to abusive parking policies in many locales that make parking a luxury?

      You’re so illogical that you don’t even see the irony that you think this policy might have merit. You’ve proven my point by wearing your brainwashing as a merit badge. You’re hillarious in your failure as a rational being. Thanks for the laugh. Here’s my reality check? I already know about people like you, but perhaps some others will find my point more credible coming directly from an actual embodiment of totalitarian evil.

    • 0 avatar

      US left?  It would be favored by the FASCIST Republicans (AKA Neo-Conservatives).

      Anything to screw the little guy. Destroy collective bargaining so that large corporations can screw the workers. Gut any safety regulations so workers have fewer protections from abusive employers. Just my observation over the last 30 years…

      I could not let the jab at the US Progressive Left go unanswered.

    • 0 avatar


      Learn the meanings of words before you use them. The fascists and Nazis were progressive socialists from the exact same movement that fostered the FDRs and Hillary Clintons of the world. You’re basically insulting the Republicans by accusing them of being like you, which is admittedly a horrible thing to resemble.

    • 0 avatar

      Your advice can go both ways.  Since it’s not TTAC without a little political pedantry, it’s important to understand that Nazism wasn’t socialist any more than the Democratic Republic of Korea is a democracy.
      Socialism implies, in practice and in theory, collective ownership, general social welfare, a general lack of or hostility to corporatism and, in extreme forms, no wage system at all and no private property.  Fascism does the opposite: it promotes corporatism, generally has little truck with collective ownership and has absolutely no problem with wage.  Neither really say much about social policy beyond the welfare state, and say nothing about morality because they’re economic systems.
      Now, by that metric, Nazis were fascists (because the cooperated with industry) and the Soviets (and FDR, and similar movements, though to a much lesser degree) were Socialists (because they just took it over and had no private industry at all).   Both the American Republican and Democratic Parties are solidly corporatist and, again, much closer to Fascism than Socialism.  By textbook definition and excluding people like Barr and Paul, the Republicans are more corporatist, but not appreciably so, than Clinton or Obama.  Most non-corporatist Democrats were gone by Carter’s time, and the only non-Corporatist presidential candidate with an appreciable fraction of the vote is Nader.
      Interestingly, it also means that China really is a fascist nation—moreso every day—-and not a socialist one.  But most interesting is that while both you and forraymond are reaching a bit in your use of fascist—and why not, it’s such a great slur—it’s a bit much for you to suggest he/she learn the meaning of the words when you’re even more off-base.

      I’ll admit I’m not exactly unbiased, but I do like a little accuracy in my mudslinging. It probably comes from too many years of hearing “Fascist!” bandied about by academia and arts-council people and gritting my teeth when they did. It really lowers the level of discourse to label-drop.

  • avatar

    Just like a little bratty liberal parasite to demand that others live for it….
    Grow up.

  • avatar

    they could easily put a damper on demand. simply start having Red Toe Tag Sales…

  • avatar

    Can wingnuts please keep their insulting comments and irrational rants to themselves. I do my best not to be baited into tart replies, but it can be really hard to resist.

    Mr. Schmitt – Thank you for your fine writing about areas and topics that most of us are not well exposed to, and insight into international political, economic, and cultural issues that affect the automotive industry.

    • 0 avatar

      Hear, hear! I couldn’t of said it better myself.

    • 0 avatar

      +1.  The constant political flaming on an automotive site is most annoying.
      Incidentally, the Peking restrictions are essentially the same as those introduced by Mexico City back in 1989, and since then in Sao Paulo, Santiago and Bogota.  But matching Bertel’s observations above, there was a jump in new-car sales, and no drop in pollution levels.  Full details in the UChicago study here:

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      TTAC could do with heavier handed moderation.

    • 0 avatar

      Confucius say: Be careful what you ask for

    • 0 avatar

      Incidentally, the Peking restrictions are essentially the same as those introduced by Mexico City back in 1989, and since then in Sao Paulo, Santiago and Bogota.  But matching Bertel’s observations above, there was a jump in new-car sales, and no drop in pollution levels.  Full details in the UChicago study here:

      Exactly. And stupid consequences abound. If such a thing is done in my city (and rumors abound that it will), I’ll simply buy an old Beetle or Fiat 147 to drive on the days I canT drive my lovely Fiat Palio (which is more Earth-friendly than me…if I had the sudden urge to run down to the corner to buy a pack of cigs, and if I did that on my own 2 feet, I’d put more co2 into the atmosphere than if I did it in my Fiat. Now, if I did it in the 2 lovely old cars mentioned previously, no dubt I’d cause the death of all the Amazon forrest).

      Now, I have no place to park an extra car in my garage. So it’d live its miserable life out in the street in front of my bldg. Adding to the problem…And no, I can’t take public transportation easily and/or conveniently from where I live (and I live almost in the middle of goddam downtown).

      Talk about uintended consequences….

  • avatar

    Not really relevant but the model used in the Volkswagen ad has really muscular calves. To the point of masculinity

  • avatar

    Two of my employees in Shenzhen are buying cars before the end of the year.   They tell me it is because of government incentives that will end at the end of the year.   From their description of the incentives it is basically a program to entice purchase of a vehicle that gets good gas mileage & emissions over older models. 
    So this could be a factor on the run on dealerships. 

    About brands, both of these employees are buying VW and have the same opinion on cars.   That could be because of our collective.  (you will be assimulated)  

    Here are a few generalizations they gave me about their automotive opinions.
    * USA cars are very safe and well built, but use too much oil. (gas)  I have heard this same comment countrywide in China. USA automanufacturers need to debunk this in their marketing. 
    * German cars are safe, very high quality, and provide status. 
    * Japanese cars are not safe and the quality is now only so-so.   They mention the unintended acceleration issue with Toyotas as case in point. 
    * VW fits the bill with price, gas mileage, perceived status, and quality.
    * They would not buy a Chinese brand car, only a joint venture car.  (no Geely, no BYD, etc)
    * We drove in a Mazda 2 last week. I said I liked the way it drives. (my inner enthusiast talking) They said it was the worse car they ever rode in and hated the look. It gave no status.

    Myself I was suggesting the Cruze to them.   They said they considered it but the cost was too high. 
    They then said they would buy a Cruze to make me happy since I am their boss! Can you believe that? I told them not to do that, I just liked to talk about cars.

  • avatar

    My apologies if I offended your sensibilities by rebutting the snarky comment above.
    I do enjoy the comments almost as much as the articles.  The site continues to get better as it grows.  Thank you for this automotive news/opinion outlet.

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