How many new cars are there each day in Beijing?

I ran across this article yesterday morning in the New York Times, and was excited by the headline: Beijing Stops Construction for Olympics. Since I live in Beijing, the prospect of construction stopping is rather exciting. I’d sleep better at night and breathe better during the day.

Unfortunately, after actually reading the article, I learned that construction won’t be stopping until June 20th, and even then only some construction will halt. So it seems like a more accurate headline would be, “Beijing Plans to Stop Some Construction for Olympics“. But headlines are limited, so I suppose that this is just a small quibble.

What really surprised me about the article was this sentence:

There are about 3.5 million vehicles choking Beijing’s roadways, with about 1,200 new cars joining the honking parade each week.

I was surprised because 1,200 new cars per week sounds very low. I’ve heard more than 1,000 new cars per day quoted regularly for several years. A quick search online found this from Xinhua:

With 1,300 vehicles coming onto the roads each day, Beijing has seen 120,000 cars added in the first three months of the year, the municipal Traffic Management Bureau said on Wednesday.

That was in early April. I forwarded my findings on to the Times(yes, the first time I’ve done this), and they promptly replied, saying that they would look into it immediately. But as of right now no correction has been appended.

The reason I’m writing this is because I’m curious whether the article is correct or not. Maybe they looked into it and discovered that the 1,200 new cars per week figure is accurate.

But that would imply that there will be 60,000 new cars added to Beijing’s roads this year, a yearly increase of 1.7%. And there’s not much in China that’s growing at 1.7%

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