Just Few Steps Away from My New Car

I am picking up the plan of buying a car in Shanghai again. I thought I have dropped the plan already when I started to seek for apartments in Puxi again. It is disappointing. I have to re-consider my plan. I visited some car stores. It seems my first car is only 100 meters away.

I started with Buick Sail. I only want to have the cheapest car as my first one to start with. Obviously, the Buick Sail at 78,000 RMB (9,390 USD) is the cheapest on the Shanghai market. I mean the cars with well known brand. I don’t consider cars like QQ.

Later, I found FIAT Palio and Siena is almost at the same price range as SAIL but looks much better. More importantly, it is bigger.

I checked the Internet (http://pcauto.com.cn, http://auto.sina.com.cn) regarding Siena. It sounds not bad. I want to have a test drive this week and maybe buy it within this week.

The reason I have to be rush to get a car is, I MAY re-consider to move to Pudong. Also, I can get a car plate in nearby areas if I am hurry. The door to get a non-Shanghai plate is closing soon. Last month, a car plate in Shanghai has risen to 40,000 RMB. That is more than 50% of the car price already. In contrast, a plate in Zhejiang is only 3500 RMB.

There are some limitations of foreign plate car – they cannot use the elevated high way in rush hours in working days. I don’t really care this limitation. This is a simple calculation.

Days of working day per year: 260 (days)

Times to use elevated high way per day: 2 (/day)

Years the high-price plate policy exists: 4 (years)

Price of the plate: 40,000 (RMB)

Cost of using elevated highway per times= 40,000 / (260 * 2 * 4) = 20 (RMB)

It means I have to pay 40 RMB per day for using the high way, which means it is among most expensive roads in the whole world.

Meanwhile, the road under the high way is typically less crowded. Sometimes it is faster to use the normal road than the elevated high ways. The elevated high way sometimes becomes the elevated parking lot. Why bother to pay the high price?

Control It or Encourage It

It is reported that the high price of a car plate has greatly changed the way people in Shanghai buying a car. KIA shipped a new model that is less than 10K RMB last year. However, people in Shanghai are less interested in it since the plate price is 3K+ already. Why not add a little percentage to buy better cars? KIA sold 5000+ cars in Beijing last year while sold only 1000- in Shanghai. That is the difference.

My personal view is, the high price plate policy will be abandoned in one year. The high price does not help on the transportation system too much while it hurt the automobile industry greatly. Shanghai is not Singapore. Shanghai has mess areas outside the outer ring. Without cheap cars, that areas can hard catch up.

Siena

I will go ahead to get a Siena if no strong reasons found in one week.

screen-face-siena.jpg

Image courtesy of Sina Auto. The dashboard of Siena

30 Comments

  1. Rogi

    March 8, 2004 at 12:17 pm

    Good luck. Owning a car is like having a child, only the best will do. It’s an expensive hobby. What is the warranty like on these cars? In the U.S., most now come with a 3 year warranty on almost anything that could break, plus a 7 year warranty on drive train parts (engine, transmission, axles,). These help a lot when something breaks.

    Also, do you happen to know the price of a license plate in Beijing or Tianjin? In addition, what fee’s and/or requirements are there for bringing a used car into China from abroad?

  2. Li Jingyi

    March 8, 2004 at 1:18 pm

    My friend, who is an expert in auto, suggests me consider SAIL, POLO and BORA only.

    I personally don’t trust Palio and Siena’s manufacturers.

  3. WilliamW

    March 8, 2004 at 1:52 pm

    I echo Li Jingyi’s viewpoint. If VW’s reliability is demonstrably better than Fiat’s (which is quite likely), then buying a slightly more costly VW now will save money in terms of maintenance & other running costs in the long run. Also, VWs may have a higher resale value.

  4. Rogi, the car plate fee in Beiing should be less than 200 RMB, which is almost free. In Tianjin, it should be the same. I never heard of bring a second hand car from U.S. to China. Maybe you can not do it as an individual. Some company may help but it should be more expensive. I remember there is a regulation that Chinese returnee from U.S. can redeem the tax…

  5. I see the argument of choosing SAIL, POLO and BORA only. Maybe from every perspective, BORA is better, but not price. SAIL is just too small. I left the SAIL store and directly entered FIAT store, and I don’t want to go back again. SAIL is not only small compared to FIAT, it is too small. The spare part price of FIAT is much cheaper than SAIL. Polo’s spare part is too expensive. I do believe FIAT’s quality is not proved yet. But look at the price. It sounds good.

    I will test drive Siena this week and then compare. Before FIAT comes into my sight, I only considered Polo, which is about 50% more expensive than Siena.

  6. I’m not so sure Shanghai will (or should) get rid of the high license fee. In a city with such a huge population and high density, it is absolute planning suicide to encourage everyone to jump in a private car.

    Sure, encouraging car use stimulates the automobile industry, but at what price? Many cities around here are already starting to resemble giant parking lots. How many more cars can they realistically let on these roads? People are always complaining about traffic gridlock and the number of vehicles, and yet fail to connect this to private car ownership. With 1.3 billion people, we are playing a whole new game here.

    Sorry Wang Jiang Shuo, just my little rant after sitting on a bus stuck in traffic for an hour :)

  7. If you consider VW, my recommendation is GOL.

    A GOL has all options (ABS, two air-bag, CD, 6 speaks) is cost 88,000 to 93,000RMB. It is reasonable cheap, yes you can find some other cars are lower than this price. But when you compared them fairly, I mean add the same options, you will find GOL is cheaper than most of them except small ones, like QQ and Spark.

    Of course there has two regrets for GOL. The engine is made in Shanghai, not like POLO which is imported from Germany. And there has only MT version.

    Besides that, GOL is the only model that produced in China that has 2-door version.

  8. A price of 20 RMB to use the road would be perfectly reasonable in some parts of the world. In Oslo, Norway that’s roughly what you pay to enter the city, and in western Norway I’ve had to pay as much as RMB 220 to use an ordinary road.

    Regarding which model to choose: I’d look at gas consumption, too. That’s going to be one of your major expenses anyway. Also, I’d visit used car dealers and see how the different brands fare there.

  9. rangew

    March 9, 2004 at 1:44 am

    I second Lars that the gas consumption would be a very important fact you may need to consider. Typical acceptable mile/gal would be 20-30 mile/gal for a highway/local way combination usage. US cars are known to be super gas consumption, but very safe, and Japanese/Korean cars are relatively good in gas consumption, but less safty.

  10. I think it is important when looking for a new car that you also consider what kind warranty they offer and what kind of dealer network exists for the car you are considering. It makes no sense to buy a car if there is no commitment behind the manfacturer to provide a network of dealers, service, and parts for your car should anything go wrong. Here in the U.S. Japanese brands like Toyota, Nissan and Honda have done well because they offer a very good product and a extensive dealer network throughout the U.S. Whereas some foreign manfacturers also have a very good product but limited dealer network, maybe only in the major cities. While most of the major American Manfacturers may exist even in the smallest towns.

    My wife is also looking for a new car to replace her Honda civic. There are 5 things I always tell her to consider.

    1. Price? – It does no good to look at a particular car if you cannot afford it.

    2. Manufacturer? – Are they a manfacturer offering a good warranty, extensive dealer network of parts and service. Is the brand reputable!

    3. Features? – does the car come with the features you need, some cars nowadays come with too many features that perhaps you don’t really need.

    4. Is it a first year model? – Often cars that are first year models have problems.

    5. Now what do you see yourself in? – Picture yourself on your favorite road with either your girlfriend or friends, your having a good time with the music playing on a cool sunny day driving to your destination. Now what car are you sitting in?

    Hope this helps!

  11. Jianshuo,

    Safety is the most important factor. Then consider other factors. You don’t want to lose your brake when you are at 100km/hour on highway.

    If you can’t afford 150K~200K for a car with reasonable quality, my suggestion is to take taxi, seriously.

    It’s definitely possible that you buy a Chery, Siena, Palio etc and have no problem at all. But think about the small possiblity, can you afford it?

    Lastly, you are really sensitive to price, consider Santana, Jetta or Fu-kang. Their quality are somewhat reasonable if not perfect.

  12. Safety is an important factor to consider. That’s kinda what I was saying in my last post is the manfacturer reputable, do they build safe cars or just affordable ones. Over here we have strict safety guidelines and cars are independently tested for safety by Consumer Reports.

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/fc?cid=34&tmpl=fc&in=Business&cat=Automobiles_and_Driving

    Surprisingly for all the “big” and expensive cars we have to choose from over here the manufacturer who consistantly places at or near the top as far as safety is concerned is Subaru.

    From my experience all cars will need work at one time or another saying one is more reliable than the other depends on a number of factors (the make, the model, how you drive, condition of roads, etc…). We have a saying here, “never buy a car made on a Friday” because that is when everyone’s work week ends and they are only thinking of one thing….the weekend. Even expensive supposedly reliable cars need maintenance and repairs, the difference is the cost for the parts and repairs. I used to own a BMW 320i and while it was a good solid car, when it came time for repairs it was very expensive. My 1985 Ford Mustang on the other hand is just as reliable but parts even High Performance parts are much more affordable.

  13. David

    March 10, 2004 at 5:59 am

    I remember reading sometime ago about a new Honda car called the Fit. It seems like it would be a great choice for a compact car. Great gas mileage, nice looks, roomy, and Honda makes very reliable cars. So do they sell the Honda Fit in Shanghai? If they do, maybe you should go check it out.

    David

  14. Here in California we have some of the tightest smog control laws in the U.S. Recently Honda and Toyota have come out with Gas & Electric hybrid vehicles which have done well. Particularly the Toyota Prius, http://www.toyota.com/prius/ it gets about 60 mpg and satisfies California low emissions standards. I don’t know if Toyota exports any vehicles to China but this is one car they should consider bringing in to the country. As soon as more cars become affordable to people in China, they will soon have to contend with the same issues (traffic, smog, safety, parking, etc…) automobiles pose in the U.S. Lucky for Shanghai that they have a very good public transportation system, this we lack here in California.

  15. STeF

    March 10, 2004 at 3:11 pm

    Jianshuo,

    I didn’t read all the previous posts, but will add a few comments based on my experience in europe. VW is a german brand well-known for the quality of their cars. Fiat is a italian brand whose quality is less, even in europe Fiat cars are less expensive than german ones, this implies for the same price a Fiat will be bigger.

    so you have to choose between a smaller car with a high level of quality and a big car. This does not means you’ll have problem with your car.

    Something else you may consider is the price of “the detailed part of the car” (sorry I don’t know the proper word).Sometimes cars are more expensives but the detailed part you’ll need to buy to repair it, will be cheaper, or it may be more easy to get thoses new parts.

    can you give me a direct link to some picture or the siena, i never heard of that model, and couldn’t read the chinese website.

    Stephane

  16. STef, thanks for your input. You just spoke out what is exactly in my mind – the choice between larger car or a small car with better quality.

  17. Trish

    June 23, 2004 at 4:39 am

    Hi there, Jianshuo. Congratulations on passing your driving test and I hope you are enjoying driving your new car.

    I live in Ireland and I am a driving instuctor here. I am curious about the driver testing system in China and have heard of new regulations there which will make it easier for a lot more people to drive.

    If you have time, could you let me know about these new regulations and their effects. Will this encourage more people to learn how to drive? How will this affect the road system in China? Also, currently, what percentage of the population drive and are car-owners?

    Are driving lessons expensive? And if a lot more people can now afford to have cars, is there a system in place to teach them all how to drive?

    Trish

  18. Trish, I am afraid I don’t know about the “newregulations there which will make it easier for a lot more people to drive”. In Shanghai, what I know is, the new regulation makes it more difficult to pass an exam. The new night exam is introduced and people will be picked randomly to pass the night test – to test the driver at night.

    To learn to drive is expensive. It costs about 4300 RMB, which is almost one month salary of most people.

  19. Carsten

    June 23, 2004 at 2:56 pm

    About safety :

    All people in China should be happy for every little effort the authorities do for the safety. More than 100.000 people get KILLED in the traffic every year in China (and nobody knows how many gets injured).

    It goes just SOOOO slowly to make even the slightest improvements.

    A couple of months ago Shanghai introduced a new traffic regulation that emphasizes the right for the pedestrians (walking people) to cross the street at the pedestrian crossings (the wide white lines in a band across the road).

    I can see now that the traffic assistants are trying to teach people to stop for the red lights, but it is difficult when every bus or taxi just plows through the masses, inside and outside these crossings. And they have no right to punish the violators.

    I hope that there soon will be introduced a 100 RMB fee to cars for driving through a not free pedestrian crossing, and same fee for the pedestrians crossing the streets outside of the crossings, or crossing for red light.

    The authorities can very well use all the advertisement TV’s there are put up everywhere to teach the people some traffic manners and of the punishment fee.

    In USA the cars can (like in China) turn right, BUT ONLY IF IT CAN BE DONE WITHOUT ANY DISTURBANCE.

    In Europe – NO way ! Wait until the green light turns on.

    That clearly avoids the “can I, or can I not…?” situations when turning right for red light.

    I can say, that a pedestrian in northern Europe always have the right, then follows the bicycles and cars. THE WEAK PART HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY.

    This is mainly because it is not even possible for pedestrians and bicycles to get a license to prove their traffic behaviour.

    But the ones with engines does.

    Jianshuo, 3 questions, how is the policy in China of this right turn business ?

    What did they actually teach you in the driving school about the relationship between you as a driver and the pedestrians ?

    And last, did they emphasize the importance of keeping distance ?

    I like to know this, because I like to KICK the F…… cars that nearly run me down from behind, even I cross for green light and inside the right zones !

    Anyway, I’m the lucky one, because I’m 191 cm, so the cars will get hurt if they hit me, and that makes most cars willing to stop for me, hehehe ;-) !

    And – put on the seat belt EVERY SINGLE time before you turn the key in your car.

    I have made it a demand for all passengers going with me to put on the belts before I put the car in gear. I don’t want to be responsible for their sudden death, even it’s not my fault.

    “I drive perfectly” as all says, but unfortunately all the others are driving with their head in another place than the traffic, so I have protect me and my dears against the lunatics that kills.

    Check this page : http://www.disastercenter.com/traffic/

    and to get more knowledge, download the WHO report (summary) in chinese or english : http://www.who.int/world-health-day/2004/infomaterials/world_report/en/

  20. Aster Lam

    December 16, 2004 at 1:55 pm

    Dear Brother,I will travel to Shanghai next week,could you please email me your worship timetable for the date 26th December 2004 and the church address in Chinese so I can show to taxi driver.awaiting your reply.Thank you very much.Aster

  21. David

    November 11, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    We bought our first used car in Shanghai through http://www.shangcar.com who are quite a reputable company, they did all the purchasing and insurance paperwork. The whole procedure took us about 1 week.

  22. oncerest

    November 12, 2007 at 9:30 am

    what kind of car you bought from http://www.shangcar.com? the website doesnt look so convincing as you said

  23. David

    November 21, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    Their site is under reconstruction, the guy from shangcar mentioned that they will have a new site soon. I got my Siena from shangcar.com , it’s a used car and actually it’s quite fast to register this car. It took me about 1 week to get everything done. I like my siena very much and drive the car almost everday here.

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    January 27, 2008 at 11:10 am

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    January 27, 2008 at 11:16 am

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  27. ecodelta

    January 27, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    About fiat cars. They are not too bad and the Italian have better feeling for style but reliability and repair costs may be a problem sometimes.

    When I was working in Germany a coworker told me a joke about fiat cars.

    He said to me

    “All fiat autos owners are very good friends, because the meet very often at the workshop for repairs.”

    Maybe my German colleague was simply defending German cars against Italian ones. ;-)

    Any way, my tow cents.

    PS:I personally prefer a Citroen with diesel engine. PSA group diesel engines are extremely reliable. Have one with almost 200.000k in the odometer and no problems whatsoever. Still consumes 6.5 L x 100 Km. Real measurement in most varied driving conditions.

    But I do not know if Citroens are available in China. My next car will be a C4 Diesel ( and if possible hybrid)

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  30. mr desmond

    February 11, 2008 at 1:38 am

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