SHENZHEN announced a policy that restricts car purchases yesterday, requiring prospective buyers to acquire new license plates through lotteries or at auctions.
Shenzhen is the latest Chinese city to place restrictions on the sale of new cars, after Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Shijiazhuang, Tianjin and Hangzhou implemented similar measures in an escalating war against smog and swarming traffic.
Under the new policy, which took effect at 6 p.m. yesterday, Shenzhen will cap the number of new cars that can be sold in the city at 100,000 a year, including 20,000 slated for electric vehicles.
Car purchasers will have to obtain license plates for the cars they want to buy either through bidding in auctions or participating in lotteries starting from tomorrow.
The restriction will be implemented in the next five years.
Car dealers in Shenzhen were ordered by police to close by 6 p.m. yesterday to enforce the new rule.
Meanwhile, vehicles registered outside of Shenzhen will be banned from running in Futian, Luohu, Nanshan and Yantian districts during rush hour - from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on workdays - except on designated roads leading to the checkpoints in the four districts.
The restriction doesn't apply during weekends and holidays.
Emergency vehicles, such as fire engines, military vehicles and police cars, as well as vehicles with dual license plates for Hong Kong and Macao, are not subject to the limitation.
Drivers of vehicles bearing non-Shenzhen plates won't be fined for their first violation of the regulation in the one-month grace period after the regulation takes effect.
The city saw its number of registered vehicles expand to 3.14 million by Dec. 20. The city has recorded a 16 percent average annual increase of registered vehicles over the past five years and in 2014 alone, 550,000 vehicles were registered, a 20.9 percent increase from 2013.
The number of vehicles has created severe traffic congestion and parking space shortages in the city, where drivers have to compete for the existing 1.04 million parking spots.
Lastly, it has contributed to the city's deteriorating air quality, as exhaust from automobiles was responsible for 41 percent of smog, according to official statistics, causing the city's PM2.5 index to exceed a safe limit.