Forbidden City: Not From Beijing? Get Outta Town!

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
forbidden city not from beijing get outta town

Want to belong to a really exclusive club? Own a car in Beijing. Don’t have one yet? Sorry, try your luck in the license plate lottery. Out-of–towner? Don’t even think of entering downtown during rush-hour. “Vehicles that are not registered in Beijing are prohibited from entering the urban area inside the Fifth Ring Road during the two daily rush hours,” reports China Daily. Even during off-peak hours, Beijing’s capital is full of surprises for outsiders.

Beijing police has started handing out 100 Yuan ($15) fines to country folk that ignores the rush hour rule. $15 lighter, and with a warning notice in their hand, they are being turned around and sent back to the farm. The only way to get around it is with a special, and highly prized permit.

Even off-peak times can be a matter of high suspense: The “leave your car at home on one day of the week” rule now applies to out-of towners also. It depends on the last number of the license plate, and rules keep changing often enough to confuse even the most sophisticated Beijinger. Breaking that rule costs 300 yuan ($45).

The new rules jump-started a business that had been languishing in China: Car rentals. “Car rental agencies have been enjoying a boom in business ever since new restrictions made it harder for people to buy an automobile in the capital,” reports China Daily.

Another market is in a total state of confusion: Used cars. If you already own a car, you don’t need to enter the lottery if you get another one. That looked like a great loophole, and used cars turned into a prized possession. Then, word got around that the plates are not transferrable, and used car prices plummeted. Now, the market is in limbo and waits for new regulations to be handed down.

“The license plate lottery may benefit from some tweaks,” said China Daily yesterday. Beijing’s administration is taking the admonition to heart – and tweaks the system daily.

Join the conversation
2 of 6 comments
  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Jan 11, 2011

    They were doing something similar 20 years ago in Naples, Italy when I lived there.

  • James Zu James Zu on Jan 17, 2011

    when I saw that Buick Minivan I was shocked. never seen one before here in Canada. They have the same rule in Shanghai, doesnt seem to help at all. too many cars + bunch of people who doesnt know how to drive + more who doesnt follow the rules = one traffic nightmare.

  • Bkojote I think it's a home run that VW is bound to bungle.For the anti-CUV crowd there's a cool factor here as pickup trucks have become so cartoonish. This will absolutely embarrass the neighbor with a GMC pavement princess pile in the driveway. Even better, the VW van fandom hasn't ruined these the same way it has the Sprinter, and honestly the design looks tight. And believe it or not there's huge demands for minivans- look no further than the unobtanium that is the Toyota Sienna.So here's what's going to go wrong-These are going to be priced on the premium end and they'll be hype for the first 3 years. The owners (whom The MKIV coil packs and dieselgate disasters a distant memory) trading in their post-college Rav4's and CR-V's are going to quickly discover the whole host of Volkswagen failures- bad sensors, glitchy software, leaking roofs, and hell it'll probably have an emissions scandal of its own somehow. This on top of the already terrible haptic controls VW has, the unreliable charging network, and terrible range. And they'll have the privilege of endlessly fighting with Sleazy Sam's VW dealership after the 4th flat bed tow.They're gonna make the same mistake the kids did in the 80's with the rabbit, the 90's with the Passat and Jetta, and the 00-10's with the TDI's- think VW finally turned the corner and stopped making garbage before doing the trade of shame back to Toyota and Honda.
  • Buickman the only fire should be in the board room.they just hired an executive from Whirlpool.that should help them go do the drain.
  • Mike Beranek I don't care about the vehicles. But I'd be on board for inspecting the drivers.
  • Art Vandelay Coming to a rental lot near you. And when it does know there is a good chance EBFlex and Tassos have puffed each other's peters in it!
  • Art Vandelay I doubt there is even room for EBFlex and Tassos to puff each other's peters in that POS