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License plate bid success rate hits new low

A record number of bidders totaling 172,205 and a drop in nominal success rate to a historical low of 4.3 percent were seen at the monthly Shanghai car plate auction held today, which for the first time officially adopted a new bidding system promising improved experience.

A total of 7,441 car plates were up for grab among individual car buyers under a price ceiling of 75,200 yuan for the first-round bids, both the same as last month.

The lowest winning bid went up 1,000 yuan to 80,000 yuan while the average price increased 921 yuan to 80,020 yuan.

A new bidding rule has been introduced to allow more room for price guessing in the second round. 

The rule still stands that each one has only two chances of price proposals in the second round, and the maximum increase of bidding, 300 yuan, is based on the real-time average of others' bids. 

But the effective timing of making a bid increase is now dependent on when the auction server receives the bid rather than when one submits it to the system. 

This change means one can bid with fewer restrains, which is believed to calm down the public outcry about not being guaranteed a bidding chance in the last minute when data transmission congestion often spikes and leads to glitches. 

"In the past, every one waited till the last minute to make their final bet, which is the only way to use the bidding rules to their advantage. Now one is allowed to strategize on his own to some degree," said Eddie Zhang, a car dealer in Shanghai.

Though technical setbacks have been smoothed out by the new system, that the highest bid doesn't necessarily win remains a frustrating part of what is called an auction.

Hu Jun, who failed for a ninth consecutive time to win a Shanghai car plate today, said he doesn't feel the new system and rule can make much of a difference.

“This is still a lottery-like auction," he concluded. 

The whole auction system still runs under a conflicting idea of keeping the car plate price down at a “reasonablly high” level to curb speculation while making a car plate supply way short of demand to prevent city traffic deteriorating with surging car ownership. 

And the government’s insistence on letting the market force play a big role in achieving all these just adds complication to the conflict.


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