China city caps car plates to control smog, congestion

Bloomberg News

China’s southern city of Shenzhen capped new car license plates at 100,000 a year, becoming the latest city to curb vehicle purchases to control smog and traffic congestion in the world’s most populous country.

The annual quota in the city of 11 million includes 20,000 for electric cars and can be adjusted to account for changes in traffic, air pollution and car demand, the Shenzhen traffic police bureau said on its official microblog. The city currently has at least 3 million vehicles on the road, according to the Yangcheng Evening News.

Shenzhen follows several other Chinese cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Tianjin, in setting quotas on new vehicles as the nation attempts to reduce air pollution.

Vehicle emissions are the biggest contributor to China’s smog after coal consumption, the China Youth Daily reported Dec. 8, citing Zhang Xiaoye, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences.

The city, which neighbors Hong Kong, will distribute half of the license plates for conventional cars by auction and the rest, including those for electric cars, through lottery.

The cap started immediately and will stay in place for five years, China National Radio reported.