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Beijing Auto-License Lottery Sees Few Electric-Car Takers

Traffic in Beijing
Traffic moves along a road at dusk in Beijing. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Beijing’s aspiring car owners would rather brave the long odds of winning a license plate in the lottery than opt for an electric vehicle.

While the city received more than 90 bids for each available permit for conventional gasoline autos in the latest draw held today, only 1,428 people applied for the 1,666 new-energy vehicle plates offered, according to a statement on the municipal government’s website.

The lopsided demand underscores the challenges carmakers such as BYD Co., whose E6 electric car qualified for Beijing’s subsidies for the first time this month, face in selling electric vehicles in the world’s largest auto market. Consumers have been reluctant to switch to electric cars in China because of reliability concerns and a lack of charging infrastructure.

“This is really brand new stuff and people are still cautious,” said Lin Huaibin, a Shanghai-based analyst at researcher IHS Automotive. “This situation will last for some time because it takes time to build infrastructure.”

To manage worsening congestion and air pollution, Beijing will reduce the number of new conventional vehicles this year to 130,000 from 240,000 previously, while reserving 20,000 plates for new-energy vehicles. The city will also build 1,000 public quick-charging poles this year, covering the suburbs and city center, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.

The lottery results come as the Chinese capital remains shrouded in thick smog, with pollution stuck at unhealthy levels for the seventh straight day, drawing renewed scrutiny of government pledges to ease pollution around the country.

Car Subsidies

The central government said this month it will extend electric-car subsidies beyond 2015 to fight air pollution and support the promotion of new-energy vehicles in a second batch of cities and regions.

Tailpipe emissions have come under scrutiny as China became the first country to report annual vehicle sales exceeding 20 million units last year.

To combat air pollution, China’s State Council, or cabinet, released a national plan in September that called for a 15 percent to 25 percent reduction in particulate matter by 2017 in the three key manufacturing regions anchored by Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Tian Ying in Beijing at ytian@bloomberg.net; Alexandra Ho in Shanghai at aho113@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net

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