Want to Buy a Car in Beijing? You'll Need to Win the Lottery

Posted by Andrew Price

To deal with unbearable congestion, China is setting up a lottery to determine who gets to buy a car this year in Beijing.

The government banned all car sales in the capital from Dec. 24 until its new lottery system comes up with the names of the 20,000 lucky applicants who will have the right to buy license plates this month.

One hundred thousand wannabe car owners have so far put their names in the drawing, to be announced on Jan. 26.

The lottery system will authorize the purchase of 240,000 cars this year. Another 160,000 are expected to be bought by customers who have their existing cars destroyed, or who sell their vehicles to used car dealers – they will be allowed to keep their plates and will be exempt from the lottery.

Last year, car sales in Beijing totaled about 850,000. With the lottery in place, only around 400,000 cars will be sold in 2011. Whether the lottery will be fair, of course, remains to be seen.

photo (cc) from Flickr user Saad.Akhtar