BEIJING — China is lifting its April 15 ban on some hatchback cars, station wagons and sport/utility vehicles on Beijing roads. The cars are slowly reappearing on busy Changan Avenue, the city's main street. Reports in local papers say the ban was to encourage the development of low-polluting cars. Still the only “two-compartment cars,” as the banned vehicles are referred to, allowed on the street are those that pass the strict environmental emissions tests here and have engines larger than 1L.

The ban was modified, according to insiders, due to the strong reaction by car manufacturers and dealers. “Two-compartment” cars make up 30% of the vehicles in Beijing.

For most owners of the vehicles, however, the ban remains in effect until they invest in expensive catalytic converters and other emissions equipment.