Deputy says restrictions hurting car sales

Chen Huizhi
Chen Hong, SAIC Motor's chairman, calls for reasonable solutions to city congestion as vehicle sales continue to decline due to restrictions mainly designed to tackle the problem.
Chen Huizhi

Plate restrictions are hurting car sales, and the traffic woes of large Chinese cities might be able to be addressed by new technologies, said Chen Hong, SAIC Motor’s chairman and a deputy to the National People’s Congress from Shanghai.

Such measures could be gradually replaced by restrictions of vehicles to enter certain areas in peak hours, Chen suggested.

The sales volume of passenger cars in China showed negative growth for the first time in 28 years in 2018, dropping 4.7 percent from the previous year, while 2019 saw a further drop of 9.1 percent due to the trade disputes between China and the US, Chen said.

In 2019, there were 147 cars for every 1,000 Chinese people, while the number was five times larger in the United States. But in seven cities and one province in China, measures are in force to restrict car purchases or obtaining car plates, in most part to deal with traffic congestion.

To support the automobile industry, the national government called for some local governments to gradually relax or drop the restrictions, and Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen cities have increased the number of plates available this year.

“These are not supposed to be expedient measures," Chen said. "We need to thoroughly review the results of the restriction measures and consider more reasonable solutions."

Due to the planning of Chinese cities, improving traffic management is the only solution to traffic congestion if no plate restrictions are to be involved, Chen said.

"Chinese cities have a high density of population and relatively low density of roads, and while large cities in other countries usually have open street blocks, residential complexes here are mostly closed to street traffic.”

Chen suggested the government establish a traffic database with detailed and accumulative data on the number of vehicles on the street and their distribution, identify congested areas and increase the costs of entrance at peak hours.

As difficulty in parking is another factor for city residents considering owning a car, Chen urged the government to use information technology to integrate and coordinate parking choices and to increase the number of vertical parking systems for old residential complexes.

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