Chinese Car Salesman Punished for Spreading Purchase Limit Rumor

A car salesman in China was punished for allegedly spreading rumors that Nanjing would be the latest municipality to introduce restrictions on vehicle purchases that have triggered panic buying among consumers.

The sales manager made repeated online postings since March 27 saying that the city will impose ownership curbs, the Nanjing public security bureau said on its verified weibo account on The salesman also said the traffic authority had bought a machine to administer a lottery for license plates, according to the government posting, which did not identify the person’s full name, his employer nor give details about the punishment.

Consumers in Nanjing rushed to buy cars at an auto show on May 1 on concern that the city will introduce purchase limits, China National Radio reported on its website. About one car was sold every three minutes during the exhibition and sales surged by as much as 40 percent in April at some dealerships, according to the state-backed radio station.

Panic purchases have been reported in cities including Beijing, Tianjin and Guangzhou, where people packed dealerships to place their orders and complete the paperwork before the quotas came into force. City governments are resorting to limiting car purchases to control tailpipe emissions after Premier Li Keqiang pledged to wage “war” on air pollution.

Six cities in China currently limit the number of new vehicle license plates issued per year. Hangzhou, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Nanjing, was the latest to do so, announcing measures overnight in March.