Beijing car market remains sluggish after first plate lottery

08:25, January 28, 2011      

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A moderate rebound in Beijing's car market looms ahead, after Beijing's license plate lottery program issued the first batch in its quota to 17,600 individual buyers on Wednesday.

Yet car dealers will have to wait to see sales really pick up, industry watchers said.

Sales remained sluggish for Beijing car dealers Thursday, a day after the city conducted its first-ever car license plate lottery, designed to restrict vehicle purchases and curtail worsening traffic jams.

Few customers visited the showroom of a Guangqi Honda dealer in Chaoyang District, a staff member who declined to give his name told reporters Thursday.

"The customers now have different attitudes, and they demand more discounts, even though they only call to inquire," he said, noting that competition among dealers became more fierce after the announcement of the lottery plan at the end of last year.

According to the plan, Beijing will allow new car registration for 240,000 vehicles this year, compared to last year's sales of over 800,000.

People swarmed into dealer showrooms at the end of last year to snatch any cars they could get, or signed purchase contracts before the new restrictive policy took effect.

For new buyers, they have to obtain license plates in advance through the lottery, which is conducted on the 26th day of each month.

Beijing's largest car dealer complex, the Yayuncun Automobile Trade Market, saw few customers on Thursday.

Guo Yong, director with the information department of the market, said those who secured license plates at Wednesday's lottery were not in a hurry to purchase cars, as they have six months before the quota expires.

"These potential customers are sitting on their cash and mulling over which brands they will buy," Guo said.

Beijing's car market is still in an abnormal state due to the introduction of the new policy, and it will take a while before it resumes to normal, Guo said.

Other industry insiders are more optimistic about the market.

Luo Lei, deputy secretary general with the China Automobile Dealers Association, said Beijing's new car sales are likely to hit 500,000 this year, as some cars will be sold to buyers outside of Beijing, while others will be purchased by buyers who are replacing their older cars.

Car owners who replace their old vehicles are not subject to the license plate lottery.

Source: Xinhua
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