BEIJING, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- The number of cars registered in the Chinese capital passed 5 million in February, 11 months later than previously predicted, said the city's traffic police Thursday.
Beijing's traffic police bureau attributed the slow-down to the car number plates issuance lottery that has been in place since last year.
There are 5.017 million cars registered in Beijing as of Feb. 15, with 173,000 new ones registered in 2011, according to the bureau.
In 2010, the average monthly increase in registered new cars was 66,000, so it was predicted that, without restrictions, the total number of cars would reach 5 million in March 2011, officials said.
As soaring vehicle ownership had caused traffic woes, the municipal government decided to limit the number of new cars on the roads by controlling the issuance of new license plates.
Since January 2011, getting a license plate has required participation in a monthly lottery process run by the municipal government. Last year's quota was set at 240,000, about a third of the number of cars registered in Beijing in 2010.
Given the annual quota, car ownership will hit 6 million in 2016, officials now expect.