A Car Plate = 38500 RMB in Shanghai

The result of the last car plate bidding excercise revealed on the Morning Post. The latest record for a plate is 38500 RMB (4,600 USD). There is a special report on this on the Morning Post. Shanghai is famous for bad traffic condition. It is such a large city on so small area. The price of July is 36900. The raising of price for a car license (or number plate) is reasonable.

The Bid

From about one year ago (not sure though), Shanghai issue the plate using the open bidding system. It is said the first bidding result price was only 1000 RMB. It was a miracle. Now the price has been too high already.

The bid excercise on every third Saturday of every week. That means, the date for the bidding will be:

July 19

Augest 23

September 20

October 18


To enter the bid, the bidder need to

1) Buy a bidding form at 100 RMB before the Friday morning of bid.

2) Deposit 2000 RMB – to make sure you attend the bidding. It is returned if you don’t get the plate.

3) Call into the system or go to the bidding hall to enter the bidding.

Interesting Game

Since this auction is the bidding without base price. That means, by theory, if everyone only offer 100 RMB for the plate, then the final price for the plate should be only 100 RMB. The success bidders are determined by price (from higher to lower) and by time (from ealier to later).

This time, 4500 plates were issued, which is obviously much less than the number of participants. The city can control the number of cars by limiting the number of plate sent to market. The less the plate they send to the market, the higher the price will be.

My Choice

I am considering buying a car – not very seriously, just begin to get interested to checkthe model and price. Meanwhile, I am learning to drive. Hopefully, I can get the license in two weeks. So I have to take the plate issue into consideration.

Shanghai Plate or Hangzhou/Suzhou Plate

Considering the high price of Shanghai car plate, the plate outside Shanghai is an attrative option. For example, a plate in Zhangzhou is only 200 RMB (others said it is 2000 RMB, not confirmed yet). The limitation is

  • Cars without Shanghai local plate canont use the elvated highway, bridges like Lupu Bridge, and some tunnels in rush hours.
  • The annual car checking is held in the place where the plate is issued

For the second limitation, it is not a big problem. Hangzhou is only 2 hours’ ride from Shanghai. I heard the rumor that this can be done in Shanghai too now – Not confirmed too.

For the first limitation, I am not sure. On one hand, I believe I will not likely to use the car to go to work – the traffic on the elevated highway is terrible (the normal roads are even worse). On the other hand, if there is something urgent, it will be very troublesome if the time falls to the rush hours.

Well. My personal oppion is that a Shanghai plate is still the best choice. Although it is so expensive now, but you can always see the trends for raising in the long run…. Is it a method of investment?

I just checked the price for a plate in Singapore – or COE (Certificate of Entitlement). The latest price is about 30,000 Singapore Dollars, according to the One.Motoring

12 thoughts on “A Car Plate = 38500 RMB in Shanghai

  1. I remember the price last year was below 20,000 Yuan, it jumped dubble in one year, what a nice business! All the price down of new cars are eaten up by this number plate tiger. this may stand for the unavoidable fact that Shanghai is not yet prepared to welcome the coming on of my car ages given the road capacity. I am afraid what you can do is nothing but to wait for the traffic conditions improved enough to match the my car needs. Wait a minute, I heard that some Shanghai guys were applying for there number plates to the office of Hongzhou where was free of registration. Although you ought to run there every year for your car check up. what about now?

  2. It would be a whole lot more fair if everyone entered some sort of lottery, so that no matter how much money you had you were given an equal opportunity to get a plate. However, I don’t think there is a better way to control congestion than to limit the number of automobile allowed in the city, given Shanghai’s population.

  3. Car plate bidding system is established long ago in Singapore. It is now about USD20,000 to bid for a license to buy a car for 10 years only. The most expensive place on earth to own a car!

    I guess the cost will increase over time in Shanghai.


  4. Toufu, you are right. But the difference is, you can sell the plate later if you don’t want it any more at an even higher price. But for car, if you can sell it for half price after serveral years, you are already lucky.

  5. Xiao Wang :

    You look the market so optimistic ! Like a balloon lifted off, the price would be double next year again ! The earlier you invest in, the higher return you will gain. So, now is likely the best time to make up your mind rather than to wait for the price down of car itself. You have already attained such an envied success — real estate, your condo has arised half fold in only 2 years ! Tomorrow must be better than today ! Not the day dream. :-)

  6. Equity or increase in value for a car, license plate, or condo seems good but it bites you back when you need to buy again. You will pay somebody else’s increased price.

  7. Yes. Actually the increase in value for a license plate or house mean nothing if I still leave in Shanghai – selling it will cause big trouble to buy another one. So the only good solution is to buy more than one house or more than one plate, keep on and sell the rest.

    However, it is obvious that the government is taking messures to prevent this kind of investment from happening. Now the license plate require the person to go to bid by him/herself and can only buy one. For those who have already bought one house, the bank will ask for 30% down payment instead of 20% for first-time buyers…

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