Monday, November 10, 2008

License Plates...


It’s been a month since the latest government implementation of no-car days (a revised restriction of the ban during the Olympics). For the restriction that was first introduced on October 11th if the last number of your license plate was 1 or 6 you couldn’t drive on Mondays, with a license plate ending with a 2 or 7 you couldn’t use your car on Tuesdays and so on through Friday. Weekends are exempt. Starting today and until December 7th, the banned license plate are been shifted by one day: i.e 1 and 6 cannot drive on Tuesdays (instead of Monday), 2 and 7 on Wednesday (instead of Tuesday), etc…

But one interesting thing I read a couple weeks ago is that Beijing car sales (which account for about a tenth of the national tally) have increased by 30% this month. One of the reasons is that there is a rumor that Beijing’s city government could limit new vehicle registrations to 100,000 units a year; about a third of the city’s average annual vehicle sales.

So far, the only city in China which rations vehicle ownership is Shanghai, a.k.a. Gridlock-City. In Shanghai, each month 5,000 to 6,000 license plates are auctioned off. Shanghai plates are fetching higher prices than small cars. According to the official news agency Xinhua, the average price of a Shanghai plate is 47,711 yuan ($6253) while Chery’s QQ subcompact, one of China’s Top Ten sellers, goes for 39,800 yuan.

Chinese are the best at driving

Related news:
Since early last month (10/06), Beijing readopted a program allowing car owners to have personalized license plates.

A Beijing resident became the city's luckiest car owner when he secured the plate reading "NV8888" at 8:30 a.m. Monday after queuing for three days with his family at a car registration center of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau. He was followed by another Beijinger, Du Fei, who got "NA9999." Many Chinese have demonstrated their fervor over lucky numbers as usual, picking as many eights, sixes or nines as possible in their license plates.

Beijing introduced the "pick-your-own" license plates for the first time in 2002. The system lasted for only 10 days. About 23,000 plates were issued before it was suspended amid complaints over picks that were rude and crude, including "USA 911", "UFO," "SEX 001", "FBI 007" and "TMD" - representing the first letters in a common Chinese swear word.

The Beijing Traffic Management Bureau says such picks won't be possible under the new system, which limits car owner’s freedom to only four digits and one English letter.

The first two slots in the seven-digit plates are set with the Chinese character for Beijing, followed by "N" for automobiles in the eight urban districts, or "Y" for those registered in the outer districts and counties.

Rumors that Beijing was going to introduce a cap on car registration or sales have been quashed with an announcement on Wednesday (Nov. 19) that the city government would do no such thing. Despite the director of Beijing's Transport Department, Liu Xiaoming revealing that the government was seriously considering putting a limit on the number of vehicle registrations at a recent high-level transport conference, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform (BMCDR) unequivocally announced at a press conference on Wednesday that no such measures would be introduced. The deputy head and spokesman of the commission justified the decision not to impose a limit on the grounds of a need to maintain the long-term development of the country's auto industry and sustain general economic growth

In related news, despite the recent fall in global oil prices, gas prices in Beijing are not going down. China will take advantage of the slump in prices to introduce a new tax on petrol and do away with subsidies.