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July 19, 2009

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Bidding glitch hits plate auction

THE regular monthly private car plate auction in Shanghai yesterday was called off for the first time in its history due to a "network problem."

The bidding started at 10am as scheduled yesterday and bidders entered their prices through the online platform.

The first round of bidding ended at 11am with the number of bidders at 8,834, according to Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co, which runs the event.

The lowest bidding price remained at 100 yuan (US$14.64) after 11am.

However, network traffic suddenly became 10 times more than usual after 10:55am, which meant that hundreds of thousands of people were logging onto the platform at the same time.

Most of these were abnormal bids which disabled the system, the auction house later explained.

The number of bidders was only 361 from 10:55am to 11am while the average in the first six months of the year was around 8,000 bidders.

The company decided to cancel the auction and notified bidders through the Website and SMS at 11:20am.

The company will look into the issue with the city's notary office and the statistics of the bidding will be investigated.

A total of 8,000 private car plates were scheduled to be auctioned yesterday, the same as that of the last month.

The number of bidders was 17,433 last month and the lowest bidding price was 30,363 yuan.

A total of 72,581 private cars were licensed in the first half of the year, according to the Shanghai Economic Information Center.

The bidding price for this month is likely to drop as July and August are usually the low season for private car sales, according to earlier media reports.

This month's auction will now be held at 10am on July 26, the auction operator announced.

Shanghai is the only city in the country that charges private car owner a license fee, a policy implemented in order to control traffic levels.

The bidding process for car plates in Shanghai started in 1994 and the bidding rules were updated in 2003, restricting domestic and imported car buyers to gain their licenses through the public auction process.


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