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Auto Industry

Beijing curbs car sales in drive to cut pollution

China’s capital Beijing has announced it will impose restrictions on new car purchases next year in an effort to reduce air pollution. The new quotas are likely to hit German carmakers.

Beijing's car sales quota for 2014 would be slashed by almost 40 percent under plans to cut vehicle emissions and hazardous levels of pollution, the Chinese capital's official website announced Tuesday.

Beginning next year, the city would issue 150,000 new license plates annually for a period of four years, authorities said, down from 240,000 car ownership licenses granted this year.

In addition, city authorities decided to increase the quotas for so-called new-energy vehicles, meaning fuel-efficient and electric cars. The number of plates for such vehicles was planned to triple over the period from about 20,000 in 2014 to 60,000 in 2017.

At the moment, restrictions on new car sales are imposed in three other major Chinese cities apart from the capital Beijing. Curbs on sales were planned to be imposed in eight more cities, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in July. A license to buy a car in restricted cities is usually won in lotteries or through an auction.

Regarding Beijing, the new quota means that car sales will be capped at 600,000 units for the next four years, which is lower than the number of cars sold in 2010 alone.

The measure is likely to hit booming sales by foreign carmakers, notably from Germany. High-powered, luxury cars by German top-of-the-range manufacturers Audi, Mercedes and BMW have become status symbols for China's growing urban upper class. The new restrictions are likely to force them to put more resources into the markets of China's smaller cities.

uhe/rc (Reuters, dpa)