The congested metropolis of Beijing – which limits when vehicles can be driven – is creating an exemption for electric cars.

As the massive capital of China, Beijing struggles with traffic jams and poor air quality. To curb both, in 2008 the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau began limiting when vehicles could be on the road, alternating driving days between odd and even license plates.

Electric vehicles (EVs) will now be exempt from this restriction during rush hours, reported The Wall Street Journal. The benefit began this month and will last through April 10, 2016, though the newspaper didn’t specify which vehicles will be included in the program.

The rush hour exception comes only a few weeks after China announced a tax reduction for low and zero emission vehicles. Under the country’s Vehicle and Vessel Tax (VVT) program, consumers must pay an annual tax for their personal vehicles.

As part of its efforts to encourage residents to buy vehicles with lower emissions, China is waiving the VVT for plug-in hybrids, and cutting the tax in half for many other energy-saving vehicles.

“The latest step, however, illustrates Chinese authorities’ frustration with the uses of electric vehicles,” said The Wall Street Journal of the EV rush hour exemption. “Despite a series of favorable policies such as generous state subsidies and tax breaks, sales of electric vehicles are far short of expectations.”

SEE ALSO: China To Cut Annual Taxes On Hybrids And ZEVs

In the last few years Beijing has also been rebalancing the amount of license plates available for traditional and low emission vehicles to reduce the city’s smog problem. Beijing currently issues 150,000 license plates a year, cut down from its previous allowance of 240,000.

This year to date, license plate applications for gasoline-only vehicles have outnumbered low emission vehicles by more than 6-to-1. As part of its initiative to encourage more battery electric sales, starting in 2017 the city will issue only 90,000 plates to gasoline vehicles, saving the rest for low and zero emission models.


(Photo by Xiao Lu Chu/Getty Images)