China on Wednesday demanded a nationwide canceling of restrictions on low-emission, economical cars, setting the end of this March as the deadline.
The move is part of its efforts to reduce oil consumption and air pollution, said a report issued by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) yesterday.
The report said that low-emission cars would be charged less parking fees, an attempt to attract more consumers to buy environment-friendly and energy-saving vehicles.
Small cars are also encouraged to be used as taxies and more investment will be made in low-emission, oil-saving cars, including research on engines, the report said.
To date, small autos are not permitted to run in more than 80 cities in the country despite Premier Wen Jiabao's call for doing away with restrictions on cars with low emission, low oil consumption and high efficiency last summer.
In Beijing for example, cars that have below 1.0-liter emission are not permitted to travel on the Chang'an Boulevard, the longest and most bustling street in the capital.
"If Beijing truly cancels (restrictions on small cars), my 0.8-emission liter Chery QQ (a Chinese domestic auto brand name) can take me directly to the office. I won't have to make a detour and it will save time and oil," said a man surnamed Gao, who works in an office building on the Chang'an Boulevard.
Signals favoring low-emission cars are being read in the market. According to statistics, the first nine months of this year witnessed the number of cars below 1.6-liter emission standing at 1,240,900, accounting for 64.17 percent of the total and the sale of cars below 1.0-liter emission rose by 93.69 percent year on year to 248,000.
Industrial statistics show that China imports 40 percent of its total oil consumption, one-third of which is used in car engines.
Owing to soaring world oil prices, China has seen its refined oil price rise five times last year.
The number of private cars is expected to reach 17 million by the end of this year from the 2000 figure of 6.25 million, more than double during the previous five-year period, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
(Xinhua News Agency January 5, 2006)