Buyers bid up prices for plates
Updated: 2012-09-19 00:02
By XIE YU in Shanghai (China Daily)
Prices for Shanghai license plates keep surging, as peak car-sale seasons and the National Day holiday approach.
As the monthly auction ended last week, the average bid for a new plate reached a record 66,425 yuan ($10,540), which was 3,866 yuan higher than last month.
On the other hand, prices for secondhand license plates surpassed 71,000 yuan.
The city began auctioning plates in 2000 to control the number of cars.
"As there are so many people competing for the new car plates, you may not get them through the auction," said Xiao Ye, who works for Shanghai Hongchi Auto Sales.
Meanwhile, as China has just approved a plan to lift road tolls for passenger cars taking highways during major Chinese holidays, more people are interested in getting their own cars.
Xiao's company and many secondhand auto sales companies are selling old plates to anxious new car owners.
"It may be a little more expensive, but you can drive your car on the road as soon as possible. It is worth it," said Xiao. Her company charges a 1,000-yuan service fee for each deal.
A total of 19,114 people bid for plates in September, and 49.7 percent of them were successful.
Shanghai is the first Chinese city to use an auction to control plates. But prices keep surging. The city authority tried to curb speculative bidding in July, extending the holding period for a plate from one to three years.
The new regulation does keep some speculators out, but cannot change the upward momentum of the bidding price since so many people are still eager to get their own cars in Shanghai.
"I was hoping that the new regulation would help to push the high bidding price down. But clearly it did not work that way," said Chen Xiaolin, who plans to buy her first car in Shanghai.
Chen said she would consider getting a plate in her hometown in Jiangsu province. Cars with non-Shanghai plates are not allowed to use the expressway during peak times, but many car owners have to compromise because of the high expense of getting a Shanghai plate.
China is now the world's largest auto market and many of its big cities are struggling with recurring gridlock and other traffic-related problems.
Different from Shanghai, Beijing has imposed a cap on the number of plates issued each month and introduced a lottery system to distribute them among aspiring buyers.
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