By on June 6, 2011

Beijingers who are lucky enough to win the license plate lottery may be punished severely – if they don’t buy a car. In the beginning of the year, China’s capital instated a rule by which new car owners must enter a lottery for a license plate. Only 17,600 plates are available per month. In the latest draw, some 530,000 people did compete for the 17,600 plates. Only one out of 30 applicants could win. And what are the lucky winners doing? Most of them do nothing. In April, only 3,700 exercised their hard-won right and bought a car. At least that’s up from 2,000 in January.  Now, the city is thinking about meting out harsh punishment.

At, the website where the carless Beijinger applies for a lottery ticket to ride, the city solicits public opinion about possible penalties for people who win, but don’t buy. (If you go to the site, many security services will warn you that it contains spyware – just take my word for it. It’s in Chinese anyway.)

One option is to keep the current policy. Currently, if the right is not used within six months, it is forfeited, but the prospective car owner can re-apply. Good luck. Another choice is to bar them from applying for a year. The third option is no lucky draw for two years.

Doing away with the lottery is not on the menu. Neither is transferring the right, which would create a frenzy of a market.

According to China Daily, “Beijing’s auto market has stagnated since car restriction regulations took effect.” Stagnated? Collapsed would be the appropriate word. A total of 71,900 cars were sold in the first four months of this year in the city, a 62 percent drop compared with the same period last year.

Last year, between 700,000 and 890,000 cars changed hands in Beijing, nobody knows for sure. Beijing’s population is 19.6 million. As of April, there were 4.9 million registered vehicles in the capital.



Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

9 Comments on “Lucky Beijing License Plate Winners To Be Punished Severely...”

  • avatar

    The facts and the headline do not match. Being barred from the lottery for a time is not a ‘harsh’ penalty; it’s merely saying that issuance of a license plate is a rare and costly event that the govt doesn’t want people to squander.

    When you speak of ‘severe’ punishment, I thought you meant a fine or imprisonment or something. Sheesh.

  • avatar

    A 62% collapse of the auto market in Beijing could possibly be the beginning of the end of the Chinese bubble.

    @gslippy: I agree this is no punishment.

  • avatar

    It sounds like the lottery is no longer needed. market forces took care of the car buying problem. But there are limits to the PLA acceptance of capitalism. After all, the right to own a car has GOT to be regulated and once granted it’s insulting not to exercise it. Especially when new car sales are tanking and that hurts the government in other subtle ways.

    • 0 avatar

      How much is having a car, in Beijing, really worth?

      • 0 avatar

        To a generation that craves material objects and another generation that did without,

        Quite a bit.

      • 0 avatar

        Depending on who you ask. If you are mid-aged, married, and have a nice apartment close to a subway station, you really don’t need a car there.

        But if you are a single man that can afford a car, any car, it will greatly help you get laid. Something cute like TT or Z4 can let you literally pick whoever you want to f*ck tonight.

        P.S. The above statement holds true for Chinese men. If you are an OK looking Caucasian man, you don’t even need that TT.

  • avatar

    I find it ironic that in the west where cars have never been cheaper to buy that people just don’t want car ownership any more… rising cost of ownership and oppressive govt. is putting paid to that

    and kids seem to want iphones don’t they? this has been a popular topic on TTAC in the past… phones. vs cars

    getting kids to buy cars etc.

    And yet there is that pull in the old kingdom…

    • 0 avatar

      Please see my previous comment. Car ownership is attractive in China, because not everyone can afford it (thus causing the guy with a car to get more girls than the guy who doesn’t).

      In the US, a car simply doesn’t have that appeal any more. Just look at Weiner or Schwarzenegger. Man, their Chinese counterparts must pity them a lot.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • akcaptruth: Speaking of embarrassingly derivative, whole sections of this article are directly cribbed from the...
  • 28-Cars-Later: “Seems like Japanese cities would be a pretty compelling market” Perhaps the Japanese are...
  • 28-Cars-Later: Perhaps though if you are correct I’d say that’s it for the segment since those Teslas...
  • 28-Cars-Later: “The reason given is that Hyundai Motor Group (which includes Kia) is targeting annual sales of...
  • BSttac: The only reason EVs exist is because of mindless politicians. I want nothing to do with an EV

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber