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April 11, 2013

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Surging license plate prices erode willingness to buy car

THE willingness among locals to buy a car dropped by 12.4 percent in the last quarter due to the surging price for a Shanghai car plate, according to a report released by a local university yesterday.

The report surveyed 1,000 residents aged between 18 and 65, excluding college students, said Xu Guoxiang, director of the research center for applied statistics with Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, which did the survey.

"The rapid rise in plate prices has largely curbed the demand for cars among local consumers," said Xu said.

The "willingness to buy a car" declined to 69 points in the first quarter, compared with 81.4 in the previous quarter. The figure was also the lowest since 2012, the report said.

"In our survey, we have set 100 as a neutral point. If the points exceed 100, it means consumers are confident about buying. As for cars, the result is obviously not optimistic," Xu said.

One local media wag has dubbed Shanghai car plates as "the craziest and most expensive iron sheet in the history."

In March, the average successful bid for a Shanghai car plate soared to nearly 92,000 yuan (US$14,845), almost three times as expensive as the cheapest car on the market.

While car buyers can get a plate from another area much more cheaply, they would be subject to restrictions such as not being able to use elevated roads during the rush hour.

The city government has taken several measures to curb the surging plate prices.

The city will increase the number of car plates at the upcoming monthly auction by 2,000 to 11,000. Other measures will include reserving new car plates for new cars only and limiting sales of second-hand cars with local plates, authorities said.


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