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June 30, 2014

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New rules to cool car plate demand

SHANGHAI’S government yesterday introduced two new rules in an attempt to reduce the number of bidders at the monthly car plate auction.

This came on the same day as the number of bidders reached 135,677 — dragging the success rate down to an all-time low of 5.5 percent.

From next month, only holders of driving licenses can bid, and those who are successful cannot take part in the auction again for three years.

“We want the car owners who really need the plates to get a better chance in the bidding,” said Huang Xiaoyong, spokesperson of the Shanghai Transport Commission.

“We’ve been studying policies for long time to try to find a way to better regulate the market. This policy should benefit those with a genuine need.”

Huang said the authority has no plans to remove the 72,600 yuan (US$11,672) first-round bid price ceiling for private plates.

The new rules follow a wave of panic bidding from April after the city raised its emission standards to the National V.

That led to a 50 percent increase in bidders, as April was the last chance for owners of out-of-town registered National IV cars to change to a Shanghai license plate.

Afterward, numbers continued to rise.

According to Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co, the number of bidders at yesterday’s auction was up 21,556 from last month.

This was even though for the first time the auction prohibited people holding temporary residence permits in Shanghai from participating — a group that usually accounts for 10 percent of bidders.

Declared invalid

Plate supplies remained at 7,400 for private owners, pre-set by the city government out of a 100,000 quota for the year.

Yesterday’s auction was in place of the one declared invalid last Saturday, after it was hit by the bidding system malfunctioning.

The average winning price this month was 73,896 yuan — down 607 yuan from last month. The lowest bid dropped 600 yuan to 73,800 yuan.

While prices have stabilized after huge hikes last year, the increasing difficulty in landing a car plate has seen agencies offer their services to desperate motorists.

Experienced bidders place bids for clients at times, they say, when data transmits better. Fees range from 4,000 yuan to 10,000 yuan.

Meanwhile, the fact that more than 100,000 bidders are failing to secure a plate each month has raised questions about how the auction entrance fee of 100 yuan — some 10 million yuan a month — is used.

The Shanghai Transport Commission said the money is spent on bidding software development and upgrading and maintaining the servers.


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