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May 29, 2020

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Traffic reforms could lift car sales

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 restricting vehicles from entering certain areas in peak hours, Chen proposed at the 13th NPC.

Sales of passenger cars in China fell for the first time in 28 years in 2018, dropping 4.7 percent year on year, while 2019 saw a further drop of 9.1 percent due to trade friction 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.

And in seven cities and one province in China, measures are in force to restrict car purchases or obtaining registration plates, in most part to deal with traffic congestion.

To support the auto industry, the national government called for some local governments to gradually relax or drop the restrictions, and Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen 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.”

Improving traffic management is the only solution to congestion if plates are not restricted, Chen said.

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

Chen suggested that the government should establish a traffic database on the number of vehicles on the streets and their distribution. And congested areas should be identified.

As difficulty in parking is another issue, Chen urged the government to use information technology to integrate and coordinate parking areas and to increase the number of vertical parking systems for old residential complexes.


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