But Shi Jianhua, deputy secretary-general of the state-backed China Association of Automovile Manufacturers (CAAM), predicts that in the next 10 to 15 years, that bumper number is set to rocket.
With an expanding middle class, the number of people who are learning to drive in China just keeps growing. As first reported by Bloomberg, the number of people with driving licenses will hit 1bn in the time period, says Shi.
Obviously having a licence doesn’t necessarily mean you drive, but with major cities putting quotas on new cars and trying to satisfy the need for clean air with the desire of first-time car owners, booming car numbers are causing a problem.
According to CAAM, the country’s roads could take 300m vehicles at most, and the number of vehicles on the road will hit 200m in 2020, from 127m last year.
Aside from it being indicative of people gaining wealth, the surging levels of new drivers could prove to be a big advantage for China’s nascent car rental industry, which currently accounts for just 10 per cent of vehicles on the road.