In 2009, China became the largest auto market on the planet, surpassing the United States. 2010 proved to be more of the same, as China cemented itself as the king of car sales. But while automakers are living the high life in China, the capitol city of Beijing is trying to slam the brakes on new vehicle sales.

The problem, according to a Christian Science Monitor report, is that traffic has become so bad in the densely populated metropolis that the government has banned car sales until an auto sale lottery takes place. That's right; if you're in Beijing and you'd like a new car or truck, you're going to have to put your name in a hat and hope for the best.

The first monthly lottery will take place on January 26. Each will give 20,000 prospective motorists authorization to actually buy a car. So far, a reported 100,000+ buyers have already entered the lottery. China will draw 240,000 names during the course of the year. Customers who sell their vehicle or lose it in an accident will be exempt from the lottery and they'll be able to keep their plate for a future vehicle purchase. The lottery is expected to help Beijing car sales in half this year, compared to the 850,000 units moved in 2010. To further free up the stifling rush hour traffic, the government has also banned cars with out-of -city plates from traveling on Beijing roads during peak travel times.

The lottery will doubtless slow the pace of car sales, but that won't do much to solve Beijing's traffic woes. Motorists and dealers alike tell The Christian Science Monitor that they hope the move to a lottery system will buy Beijing officials the time needed to improve the city's infrastructure and improve public transportation.

[Source: The Christian Science Monitor via Yahoo! | Image: Stan Wiechers via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0 License]

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