For Shanghai residents, the joy of owning a new car is quickly diminished by the complicated and expensive process required to obtain a local license plate.
Yolanda Dong, a manager at a Japanese firm who lives in Shanghai, paid 100,000 rmb for her Peugeot 307 and a whopping 77,000 rmb for her plate. “I had to buy the plate no matter what. I can’t have my car sitting there doing nothing,” said Dong, who purchased her car five months ago and has been bidding for a license plate since her purchase.
The average price for a Shanghai license plate soared to 75,000 rmb ($12,000) in January, a 2,000 rmb increase from the average 50,000 rmb last year.
Getting an out-of-city plate is a cheaper, but less appealing option because the city does not allow cars registered elsewhere on its elevated highways during rush hours.
To get a license plate, one has to endure the notorious plate auction system, which is designed to reduce traffic, pollution, and China’s oil use. An auction is held on the third Saturday of each month; about 8,000 plates are issued each time.
Anxious car owners have three chances to bid, at 100 rmb per pop in addition to the 2,000 rmb deposit they have to put down to register for the auction.
In China, owning a personal vehicle is still a luxury as is owning a Shanghai license plate.