The number of vehicles in China's capital surpassed two million in September, putting more pressure on the already overburdened road system.
Beijingers have been accustomed to traffic jams though complaining frequently. Urbanization experts say the situation in Beijing is an omen for many other big Chinese cities.
Chinese auto manufacturers are expected to produce 5.6 million vehicles next year and 10 million before 2010.
Global auto manufacturers have entered the China market, and according to a Goldman Sachs prediction, global car manufacturers will invest US$10 billion in China in the next three years.
According to an AT Kearney prediction, sedan sales volume will reach 3.5 to four million by 2006, while production volume will rise to at least 4.5 million. Car prices are continuing to fall, which will further stimulate consumption.
The auto industry has spurred rapid development of the economy but also brings many problems.
At the beginning of this year, China announced that the total length of highway had surpassed 10,000 kilometers, second only to the United States.
Continuing road building is cutting into farmland and oil use is increasing rapidly, creating further environmental problems.
Imports of petroleum surpassed 80 million tons this year, setting a new record. If every car consumes 150 liters of gasoline every month, the current 24 million autos will consume 420 million barrels of crude oil. When the world base oil rises one dollar, China will have to pay an extra US$500 million.
Measures to increase energy utilization efficiency, strictly implement an annual exhaust inspection system, improve oil quality, store oil, and sponsor hi-tech auto research are urgently required.
(Xinhua News Agency December 29, 2003)