China to auction number plates to restrict sale of new cars

The Beijing Municipal Government will limit issuance of new car plates to 240,000 annually in an effort to ease the capital city's traffic jams, according to the report.

Car buyers will have to obtain car plates by drawing lots before they drive their cars on road, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport (BMCT) said, adding the new policy will take effect on January 1 next year.

More than seven lakh cars were sold in Beijing this year, bringing the capital city's total number of automobiles to more than 4.7 million, according to BMCT.

The BMCT resorted to this move after its previous policy of barring cars of certain coloured number plates to ply during the day time of certain days.

The policy implemented from 2008 Olympics made people to buy more cars to over come the problem.

Shanghai city, which also suffered from same traffic woes, is already implementing the same policy.

The new policy was expected to have negative effect on Chinese auto industry which is the fastest growing in the world.

Automobile sales in China are expected to reach 18 million units this year. About 16.4 million units were sold in the first 11 months, according to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

The sales would exceed the forecast of 17 million units made in November, CAAM said.
China overtook the United States last year to become the world's largest auto market by selling 13.65 million vehicles, up 46 per cent year on year, while production that year jumped 48 per cent to reach 13.79 million units.

While Beijing's six lane infrastructure backed with well maintained metro rail network and bus transportation network drew praise in the past, it was proved to be woefully inadequate in the recent time with gridlocks lasting several hours not withstanding the fact that the road network which is backed by dozens of flyovers.

The state of traffic snarls reached such an alarming levels that the state media is carrying a debate wither the government should think of shifting the Capital from Beijing to ease congestion. The government is also mulling the idea of banning government vehicles from moving during peak hours.

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