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December 19, 2010

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Auto plate prices decline abruptly

CAR plate prices in Shanghai unexpectedly fell sharply at this month's auction yesterday despite blistering auto sales recently.

The average price for a private car plate plummeted to 15,970 yuan (US$2,383) in December, a drop of 29,321 yuan from November, according to Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co.

The average price was the lowest since 2003.

The lowest bid fell 34,500 yuan from a year ago to 10,400 yuan this month, the second lowest on record. The lowest bid ever was 8,100 yuan in January 2008.

The government offered 9,000 car plates this month, 500 more than in November.

Industry watchers were surprised by the decline as car plate prices had risen for four consecutive months and hit this year's high of 45,291 yuan at last month's auction. Car licenses on the second-hand market also increased to 47,500 yuan last month.

Meanwhile, passenger car sales increased 27 percent year on year to 1.28 million units in November.

Market watchers are expecting the momentum to continue through December as consumers rush to make purchases on speculation local governments will boost measures to control ownership of vehicles as the central government's stimulus policies expire at the year-end.

Netizens on an auto forum on Shanghai's popular electronic bulletin board KDS estimated early this month that plate prices would rise to 47,000 yuan on speculation the larger supply was not enough to meet demand.

"The plate price was far below expectations," said Lin Hao, a Peugeot dealer.

"Car owners may have been scared off due to the sales boom in the last two months and decided to delay their bidding to January," he added.

This month's auction attracted 11,224 bidders, the fewest this year and 2,205 less than in November. About 80 percent of bidders this month succeeded in getting a license plate.

The average price for a car plate in Shanghai was more than 40,000 yuan in seven months so far this year.


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