Small models most effective way to use the limited space on the roads

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 June, 2006, 12:00am

Rao Ronggen, small-car sector

Smaller cars are the way to the future in big cities, if you believe Rao Ronggen, south China regional manager for the Jiangxi Changhe Suzuki Automobile Company.

Mr Rao said smaller cars were a necessary and effective way to ease traffic congestion in big cities but to some extent existing traffic laws and regulations on the mainland discriminated against smaller vehicles, in some cases by banning cars with smaller engines from major thoroughfares.

For example, since 2002 drivers of small cars have not been allowed to use Guangzhou's major roads and ring roads.

It would be impossible to widen major traffic arteries to ease congestion in the short term, but Mr Rao said greater use of small cars would quickly improve traffic conditions.

'Many people think there are traffic jams because the roads are too narrow, but in fact roads in most Chinese cities are wider than those in many other countries and regions,' Mr Rao said. 'So the major problem is the vehicle.

'A big sedan may occupy a traffic lane itself but the same lane is probably wide enough to accommodate two, or even three smaller cars. Smaller cars can also pass through narrow streets and alleys across the city but big cars can only run on major roads.

'Furthermore, the country should encourage the use of smaller cars, as authorities do in places like Japan and Italy.'

Mr Rao suggests the government could lower the consumption tax on smaller cars, while imposing heavier licence fees and insurance charges on bigger cars, depending on their size.

Traffic could also be eased by supporting traffic radio channels broadcasting reports on traffic conditions, allowing drivers the to avoid trouble spots.

'These kinds of programmes are very helpful and traffic authorities could give subsidies to these radio channels to provide better services,' Mr Rao said.