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Car license plate prices go through the roof

2012-03-18 10:52 Shanghai Daily     Web Editor: Su Jie comment

The price of a license plate in Shanghai reached an all-time high of 58,625 yuan (US$9,270) yesterday with the average cost rising 2,993 yuan from a month earlier, leaving some unsuccessful bidders wondering if driving a car will be a privilege only for the wealthy in the future.

The price beat the previous record of 56,042 yuan set in December 2007.

According to auction organizer Shanghai Commodity International Co, the lowest price for a plate hit 58,300 yuan, also a record, up 2,900 yuan from a month earlier.

"Such a high price is hard to believe," said bidder Feng Zhengqi, who gave up after seeing the price jump over 57,000 yuan.

"Does it mean that driving a car will only be for the city's rich class in the future?"

License plate prices have long surpassed the cost of some car models as a Chery QQ compact car is about 40,000 yuan.

The municipal government put 8,000 car plates up for grabs this month, the same as last month. The number of bidders rose to 24,897, compared to 23,391 in February.

Shanghai is the only city nationwide that issues car plates through a monthly auction.

The move was aimed to prevent the vehicle population from increasing too fast and help ease traffic congestion. Many cities shared the same goal including Beijing, which last year started offering car plates through a lottery.

In order to reduce fuel consumption and cut emissions to protect the environment, Shanghai will continue with the auction system, according to a recent government meeting.

The government is also studying charging traffic congestion fees and variable parking fees based on location to encourage the use of public transport.

On the second-hand market, a car plate now sells for around 58,000 yuan.

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