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March 16, 2014

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Car plate prices remain stable

THE number of bidders for Shanghai car plates yesterday leapt more than 35 percent from last month, yet a price ceiling helped ensure that prices were little changed.

The auction attracted 61,853 private buyers — up 35.2 percent from 45,758 in February and a six-year high for the second consecutive month. However, the number of plates on offer remained at last month’s level of 8,000.

These included 7,400 made available for individual buyers yesterday and 600 to be auctioned to organizations.

The surge in demand pushed the average price for a private car license up 515 yuan — 0.7 percent — on last month to 73,872 yuan (US$12,012), while the lowest winning bid was up 600 yuan, 0.8 percent,  to 73,800 yuan, said the Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co.

First-round bids were again subject to an upward limit of 72,600 yuan, which has been set as a price ceiling for the year.

This stabilizes second-round and final bids, which often take the earlier round as reference.

The fixed price ceiling mechanism, replacing a more variable one last year, is the main reason that big price fluctuations are seen less often now, Shanghai car dealer Eddie Zhang said.

“It helps reduce market speculation, creating an expectation that the final price will always end up a little above the upward limit,” Zhang said.

In January, when the fixed price ceiling took force, the price of a plate dropped 3.4 percent.

In contrast, in the last quarter of 2013, when a more flexible price mechanism was tried out, prices rose 6 percent a month.

Separate auctions for individuals and organizations, which are often less price-sensitive, also keep prices stable, Zhang said.

With the high season for car buying just around the corner, next month may see another price increase, Zhang added.

An additional 1,000 plates will be available then.


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