More Chinese cities likely to curb auto sales: industry group

Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:57am EDT
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By Fang Yan and Norihiko Shirouzu

BEIJING (Reuters) - Eight more cities in China, the world's biggest auto market, are likely to announce policies restricting new vehicle purchases, an official at the automakers association said, as Beijing tries to control air pollution.

Shi Jianhua, deputy secretary general at the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), did not give details on the new measures and there has been no word from the government.

But the industry group warned the planned restrictions could cut vehicle sales by 400,000 units, equivalent to 2 percent of domestic sales in 2012.

"We shouldn't simply adopt restrictive policies as they have seriously dampened demand of the people," Shi told a news conference on Wednesday.

"It's not good for the healthy development of the Chinese auto industry or the formation of an harmonious auto society."

Kiyotaka Ise, president of Toyota Motor Corp's luxury Lexus brand, said he would welcome any measures that give incentives for the purchase of hybrid gasoline-electric cars.

"Given the size of the market, 2 percent is a lot," he told reporters in Tokyo, referring to the effect on sales of the possible restrictions.

"If the goal is to improve air quality there could be a business opportunity for hybrid cars," he added. "Perhaps there is a possibility that low-polluting hybrids could be exempt from restrictions."   Continued...

A statue of China's late Chairman Mao Zedong is seen in front of buildings during a hazy day in Shenyang, Liaoning province, May 7, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer