Beijing to Reduce New Vehicle License Plates by 38%, Daily Says

China’s capital will reduce the number of new passenger vehicles allowed on the city’s roads by 38 percent next year as part of efforts to ease pollution and traffic congestion, according to the Beijing Daily.

Beijing will cut the annual number of new license plates to 150,000 in 2014 from 240,000 now, according to the report posted on the city government’s website today. By 2017, 90,000 of the plates will go to conventional autos, with the rest reserved for new-energy vehicles, the report said.

China’s leaders are working to clean up its air and water to ease public anger over environment degradation, which has become the top cause of social unrest in the country. The latest measures are part of a plan to limit the number of vehicles in Beijing to 6 million by the end of 2017, and the most stringent to be introduced in a major Chinese city since Guangzhou capped the number of new license plates in July 2012.

“They have a target to control the total vehicle number to 6 million, so they have to reduce the number of vehicles registered every year,” said John Zeng, the Shanghai-based managing director of researcher LMC Automotive. “It will make sales in cities more difficult.”

Beijing will also formulate a plan to restrict the number of large commercial vehicles and study the mechanics of a traffic congestion charge, according to the newspaper.

The capital released a proposal last month to cope with severe levels of pollution. Under the plan, the city will order 30 percent of government cars off roads, close kindergartens, middle and primary schools, and halt some industrial production when such pollution is forecast.

Beijing introduced a license-plate lottery in January 2011, with a monthly quota of 20,000 new vehicle licenses. Shanghai and Guangzhou also impose restrictions on vehicle ownership, while another eight cities are also considering imposing restrictions, the state-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in July.

— With assistance by Alexandra Ho

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