Transportation Deployment Casebook/2018/Private cars in Beijing (1949-2015)


Since the first motor car was introduced in Qing Dynasty, car’s history in Beijing has begun. After a hundred-year development and innovation of the cars, there are huge differences between now and the past. The total number of cars in Beijing have reached more than 561.9 million. In this assignment, the life cycle of Beijing vehicle will be exanimated including a slow birthing phase, a rapid growth-development phase, and a mature phase, based on both qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative AnalysisEdit

Private Car in BeijingEdit

In 2015, the total private car in Beijing reached more than 452.3 million. It increased 0.5% compared with the last year. According to the data from Beijing Transportation Institute, the average net increased rate of private car was 7.1% from 2009 to 2015. There was a noticeable declining of the increasing rate of motor vehicles since the control measurement of total numbers of private car in Beijing has been implemented in 2011. The details data of 2008 -2015 will be shown in the Table below[1].

The increased number of private car in Beijing
Year 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
the increase number(million) 33.5 49.3 72.3 11.9 16.4 19.0 11.7 2.4
the increased rate


14.2 18.3 22.7 3.0 4.1 4.5 2.7 0.5

Other transport modesEdit

Railway and BusEdit

The main optional transport modes in short distances range have railway, bus, taxi, bike and others. Both railway and bus are much cheaper and more environmental-friendly, comparing with the private car; however, they have fixed routes and fixed timetable, which are not flexible enough to travel from one point to another specific point. People who choose these transport modes are used to travel with multiple modes. For example, a person need to travel to his/her friend’s place. He/she need to check if there is any bus stop or subway station near the destination, otherwise walking or using sharing bike is necessary to arrive the place.


There are two main issues about the taxi, although it is one of the most flexible transportation mode. The first one is expensive. Taxi fee is much higher than driving a private car with the same distance. Another issue is that the concentration of taxi is uneven located in the city. Therefore, sometimes people will waster lots of time to catch a taxi[2].


Compared with the private car, bike has a few advantages. In functional perspective, bike is more flexible when people travel among the branch roads and even the path. It also need a smaller space to park. Furthermore, it has relatively fitness function and good for health. In economic aspect, the bikes is much cheaper than private cars both sell price and maintenance fee. As the bikes do not consume fossil fuel, it not only could save the energy consumption but also is totally environmental-friendly with no air pollution and noise pollution. However, there are three main constrains of the bikes. Firstly, the movement of bike is driven by human motion, therefore, it sensitively depends on topographic conditions and weather conditions. Some slopes of the road are too steep to ride, and it is dangerous to ride a bike during the extreme weather such as storm, snowy and strong wind. In addition, the most concerned problem is safety issues of the bike. When a traffic accident happened, the bike user is the most easy to get injured due to lack of protective equipment.

Invention of Private CarEdit

The first steam-powered vehicle was designed by Flemish member of a Jesuit mission in China around 1672. Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, a French inventor, built the world’s first automobile which it represented the mechanical engine start to replace the ancient transportation mode (powered by human, animal and sails). In 1807, Francois Isaac de Rivaz, a Swiss inventor designed his own internal combustion engine and installed it in the world’ first vehicle.  Later, the steam engine did not suit for the motor vehicle. The inventor searched for a more powerful and light engine for motor vehicle. In 1879 Benz applied his designed internal combustion engine to power a vehicle, and began promotion of the vehicle on 3 July 1886. In the following years, 25 Benz vehicles were sold.

The probable first assembly line style of mass production and interchangeable parts appeared in the U.S. by Thomas Blanchard in 1821. This concept was greatly developed and expanded by Henry Ford. He designed a new model of car called Model T, which is an unadorned, durable, easy to drive and maintain. It was affordable and well-functional car. In 1914, he applied Taylor’s massive production technology into assembling cars. This technology was also known as assembly line. It was not only good for assembling each component of cars in flow, but also easy to classify each manufacturing skills. The time of assembling a car was reduced from 750 minutes to 93 minutes. The production capacity of a single-shift was 1212 cars. This was the prototype for the mass production of automobiles that had been inherited by car manufactures around the world.

In 1930s, the performance and shape of the car were closed to the mid and high class standard. The car manufactures were focus on the practical aspects.

After the World War II, the car industry has rapid development in terms of appearance, performance and colour. The appearance in each stage was constantly developed in a new shapes, improved the car’s performance as well.

The oil crisis has greatly stimulated the car technology toward to energy-saving, especially the optimization of emissions-saving technologies such as the small sized car development, reduction of car self-weight, improvement of car transmission efficient, reduction of wind resistance, fuel supply and ignition and booster technology and diesel engines with higher thermal efficiency. They also investigate renewable energy for alternative type of engine, such as, methanol, electric, hybrid and solar.

The modern car development tends to electronic, intelligent, emerging electronic technology to replace the original pure mechanical hydraulic control system for meeting the increasingly requirements including safety, low emission and energy saving. In 1990s, intelligent engine control, automatic transmission, powering steering, active suspension, seat position, air condition, seat belt, airbag and other numerous intelligent automatic control system became commercial. There were also vehicle auxiliary information systems such as car audio and video digital multimedia entertainment systems, wireless network and GPS system   

Market developmentEdit

The initial market niche of car in Beijing is relatively small due to low domestic productivity and limited technology. The development stage of car industry started from 1953 to the end of the 20th century. During this period, the car productions were serving existing market better via improving the total production, enhancing the car performance and reducing the price. In addition, the planning economy was changed to a market economic system which allowed people freely trade the products, and the individual citizen could run their own business and factory. In a certain extent, these could expand the size of market. In the 21st century. After joining to the WTO, Chinses automobile industry expand rapidly to a large market scale ,and fully integrated into the world auto industry via globalization[3].

Birthing PhaseEdit

The birthing phase of car industry was a quite slow process due to several of factors. Firstly, China was under an unstable environment in the beginning of the 20th century. The Siege of the International Legations occurred in 1900 in Beijing, following by Xinhua Revolution, the first World War and the Second Word War. In addition, lack of the advanced technology and limited academic communications with other counties’ scientists, most of the cars were imported from western counties or assembled by Sino-foreign joint venture before 1957. Therefore, the prices were too expensive to afford for a average family. Furthermore, the poor infrastructures such as road network, gas stations and bridges are also at the early stage which bring plenty of inconveniences to car owners. Therefore, at the first half of the 20th century, bike industry had a rapid growth because people would like to ride a bike instead of driving car. In the meantime, the number of cars slightly increased. The road capacity was over the total traffic volume so that the traffic congestion condition was smooth and steady.

Growth PhaseEdit

The first car was made in China in 1958, which was a symbol that represented the start of car industry in China. The government of the People’s Republic of China invested over 1.1 billion yuan to step up five state-owned car manufacturers in 1966. After the reform and opening-up policy, Shanghai SH760 (also known as Phoenix) began to assemble 1.8L Santana sedan of the German Volkswagen. In 1985, it set up a Sino-German joint venture called Shanghai Volkswagen Co. Ltd. Its car became the model of Chinese official cars due to high production and domestication rate. In January 1984, the Beijing Automobile Factory and an American Automobile Company established Beijing Jeep Automotive Co., Ltd to produce a 2.5L Cherokee Jeep, also known as the four-wheel drive. The market scale became larger and larger because the car production rate and the quality of car have huge improvements while the price start to drop to a reasonable price. At this stage, Chinese government transited the planned economy to a market economy system. The car industry experienced rapidly development and formed a more complete industrial system.

Since China officially joined the WTO in December 2001, it accelerated the pace of the integration of Chinese car industry into globalization. In 2002, China’s per ca-pita GDP was close to 1000 US dollars, indicating an initial stage that the families could own their own cars. Therefore, the number of cars in Beijing has a significant increase instead of a gradually rise per year.

However, the limit investments in public infrastructures and an explosive increase numbers of car lead to an unbalance between the numbers of car and road network. The total volume exceeded the road capacity.  To mitigate this situation, Beijing government simply started to build more ring roads based on the centre, large scale of flyovers and tunnels. These measurements only can solve the traffic congestion in a short period because the numbers of car will increase shorty to reach the maximum road capacity. Therefore, they become a loop, appearing traffic congestion then building the roads. It become traffic congestion again then need to build more roads and so on. In addition, for the transport policy aspect, there is no restriction or limited policy to control the total numbers of cars increase because the government strongly encouraged the citizens to buy their own car so that this could boost the economic and increase its revenue.

The investigation report of the Beijing Municipal People’s Political Consultative Conference on motor vehicle aggregate control and demand management pointed out Beijing total motor vehicle number exceeded 2 million and 3 million respectively, which took six and a half months and three years and nine months respectively. Compared with Tokyo, it took those process with 5 years and 10 years respectively. In 2009, the net increase of one year was more than 515,000 vehicles which was roughly equal to the total amount of motor vehicles in Hong Kong[4].

Mature PhaseEdit

When people gradually realize that the transportation supply would never meet the traffic demand, and the traffic demand always tends to be greater than the maximum road network capacity.  The metropolitan cities have begun to recognise the urban development policy. Beijing has established the strategy of giving priority to the development of urban public transportation. Under the guidance of the policy for the development of public transportation priority, a large-scale rail transit construction plan has been customized, with rail transit as the backbone, regular traffic as the main, and other modes of transportation as supplements. In addition, it was also proposed that a comprehensive use of infrastructure with a reasonable structure should be integrated, priority should be given to the development of public transport systems, a combination of land-use transport-oriented urban development models, and various traffic demand management measures[5].

Quantitative AnalysisEdit


The result table[6] and S-curve was shown below, based on a three-parameter logistic function:

S (t) = K/ [1+exp (-b (t-to))]


·        S(t) is the status measure,

·        t is time (usually in years)

·        to is the inflection time (year in which ½ K is achieved)

·        K is saturation status level

·        b is a coefficient

In this particular case, K was chosen as 2000 with a range from 600 to 3000, and coefficient b was calculated as 0.1226822.

Result table
Year Market Size (mliion) Predicted Market Size(million)
1949 0.21 0.21
1952 0.47 0.30
1957 1.15 0.56
1962 1.55 1.04
1965 1.86 1.51
1966 2.04 1.71
1967 1.83 1.93
1968 1.84 2.18
1969 1.57 2.47
1970 1.74 2.79
1971 1.87 3.16
1972 2.25 3.57
1973 2.85 4.04
1974 3.5 4.57
1975 4.27 5.17
1976 4.97 5.84
1977 5.05 6.61
1978 7.71 7.47
1979 8.94 8.44
1980 10.38 9.54
1981 11.64 10.79
1982 13.03 12.19
1983 13.98 13.78
1984 16.7 15.57
1985 22.43 17.59
1986 26.67 19.87
1987 27.23 22.44
1988 31.22 25.34
1989 35.33 28.61
1990 38.45 32.29
1991 29.7 36.43
1992 34.1 41.10
1993 41.6 46.35
1994 48.13 52.24
1995 58.94 58.87
1996 62.18 66.3
1997 78.43 74.62
1998 89.85 83.94
1999 95.14 94.37
2000 104.12 106.00
2001 114.47 118.98
2002 133.93 133.41
2003 138.9 149.44
2004 154.7 167.20
2005 179.8 186.83
2006 206.5 208.48
2007 235.8 232.27
2008 269.3 258.34
2009 318.6 286.79
2010 390.9 317.74
2011 402.8 351.24
2012 419.2 387.36
2013 438.2 426.10
2014 449.9 467.43
2015 452.3 511.28
2016 557.52
2017 605.98
2018 656.43
2019 708.58
2020 762.11
2022 871.83
2024 982.41
2026 1090.52
2028 1193.17
2030 1287.95
2032 1373.21
2034 1448.16
2036 1512.70
2038 1567.30
2040 1612.81
2042 1650.27
2044 1680.78
2050 1741.01
2052 17453.55


Comparing the actual number and the prediction, they are roughly fixed well from 1949 to 2008. There were noticeable differences between the actual number and predicted number from 2009 to 2015. The data obtained from Beijing Transportation Institute reported that the total numbers of private car were 318.6 million in 2009, 402.8 million in 2011, 419.2 million in 2012, 438.2 million in 2013, 449.9 million in 2014 and 452.3 million in 2015. However the model predicted that 286.79 million in 2009, 317.74 million in 2010, 351.24 million in 2011, 387.36 million in 2012, 426.10 million in 2013, 467 million in 2014, and 511.28 million in 2015. The actual data indicated a slow increase in recent years while the predicted data demonstrated a rapid increase trend. This trend also can be found in the S-curve.


Expect the data from recent year (2009-2015), the theoretical S-curve is fix well with the actual curve. Simply analysing the S-curve, the birthing phase of private cars in Beijing can be determined as from 1949 to 1990. The growth-development phase is estimated approximately from 1991 to 2050. There a few possible reasons to explain why the predicted s-curve dose not fix the actual data in recent years. Firstly, the Beijing government implemented ‘limited registered car license’ policy to control the total number of private cars since 23rd, December in 2010. This control measurement would decline the increase rate of private cars. In addition, Beijing government invested a lot fund to develop the transportation such as buses, subway, and sharing bikes to encourage people choosing public transportation modes instead of driving private cars. Therefore, the increased rate had a sharply declined from 14.2% to 0.5%. In addition, the model could not predict a dynamic scenario because it analysis based on the equation, therefore, it can be affect the result as well.


  2. Tan, J., Huang, Y., Wang, L., Guo, W., Dong, L., Gao, J., & Li, L. (2017). The comparison of travel patterns between taxi and private car at beijing capital international airport area. Paper presented at the 10-13. doi:10.1109/YAC.2017.7967370
  5. Fan, J., & Yan, G. (2009). The system dynamics research on the private cars' amount in beijing. Paper presented at the , 4(1) 628-639. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-02466-5_61