By on January 25, 2010

Want to move to Shanghai to cash in on the Chinese car boom? Want to drive a car in Shanghai? Better bring a lot of money.

Prices for a license plate in Shanghai rose to at two year high in the year’s first plate auction, Shanghai Daily reports. The average price of a private car license rose to US$5,617. A new QQ goes for as little as $4,100.

To curb traffic in the notoriously clogged city, Shanghai auctions off around 8,000 plates a month. At yesterday’s auction were 18,975 bidders.

Demand is high because car sales usually spike up during the Lunar New Year, which falls on February 14 this year. There are also rumors that the city may limit car registrations further in preparation for the World Expo 2010, starting in May in Shanghai.

And let’s not forget the most obvious explanation: Demand for cars remains hot in China, with sales projected to be around 15m this year.

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21 Comments on “Shanghai: License Plates Cost More Than A Car...”

  • avatar

    Considering I only paid about ~$1000 for taxi and subway fare last year, I think I’ll skip the nightmare of driving in this city. Though, a white dude driving a Hello Kitty Edition QQ would be funny stuff.

  • avatar

    I wonder if you still have to pay for tabs and smog checks? I guess I won’t complain about $50.00 or so dollars to renew tabs every year! I am glad I don’t have to pay for smog checks. But 5 Grand for a plate? Wow!

  • avatar

    I never drive in China … BTW, people at the office became alarmed. After I shouted “what’s the price of an entry QQ?” people worried: “We must not be doing too well. The boss wants a QQ.”

    • 0 avatar

      Really freak ’em out and start asking about the cost of the Hello Kitty Edition, the Green with Bubbles Edition, the Snoopy Edition, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan

      Bertel, why do you never drive in China? And what’s a QQ? What’s everyone talking about?! My head hurts….

    • 0 avatar


      I don’t drive, because

      a.) I’m a coward. China has the highest fatal accident rate in the world.

      b.) Chinese drive as if obsessed. I drive in Paris, I drive in Rome, but in China, I surrender.

      c.) I have a driver. I’m supposed to create jobs in China.

      A QQ is a very popular and very cheap car in China.

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan

      Are you telling me that China have a higher fatal accident rating than India?! That I find hard to believe!

    • 0 avatar

      According to the usually unreliable sources, China has a quarter million people killed on the roads each year:

    • 0 avatar

      “We must not be doing too well. The boss wants a QQ.”

      As hilarious as it sounds, they missed the whole point.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m the manager of a lab and have been riding my bicycle to since 1996. So – my operation must doing worse than Bertel.

      It’s always fun running into a potential new hire on their way to an interview in our elevator – while I have the bicycle in tow.

    • 0 avatar

      Holy damn, that works out to 685 fatalities a day, or 29 per hour. Is the government putting any effort into curbing that number?

  • avatar

    I saw my father in laws vw polo yearly registration (Brazil) and it was just under $1000 reais (think $1000 – purchasing parity).

    Quite pricey!

  • avatar

    My wife, who is Chinese and from Shanghai, got around this requirement by getting her plate from Anhui province. This was significantly less expensive, and is pretty common in Shanghai. The only problems with this are 1) that every three months you need to leave the city and re-enter it to get a sticker for your windshield and 2) you can’t use the elevated highways in the city center during rush hour (morning and evening).

    It is very difficult to drive in China, as the rules of the road are more like “suggestions”, even more so than in countries like Italy. You must drive very defensively, and have a thick skin, because Chinese drivers are neither courteous (as a rule) nor observant. I was able to pull it off while I was there without any accidents, though, so it’s not impossible.

  • avatar

    Owing a car in Shanghai is cheap — compared to Singapore.


  • avatar

    Wow, that is really expensive for a license. Need a WTF tag for this article.

  • avatar

    Bertel – that’s the creepiest website I’ve seen today :o

    Good you posted the car link though -> I thought they ran out of QQ numbers (akin to ICQ) and had to start selling them :D

  • avatar

    Is that $5k a one-time fee?

    A “high risk” (read: fully-faired sport) motorcycle in Quebec now costs $1400/year to register. There are bikes dating back to 1986 which have been blacklisted, meaning that in some cases the plates cost more every year than the bike is worth.

    Ironically, my 125 hp Suzuki(nicknamed by the press “The Widowmaker” when it was introduced)is not considered “high-risk” because there is no fairing around the engine.

    Governments the world over make no sense when it comes to registration laws.

  • avatar

    It rankles me a bit when public policy decisions like this are made, and then the government gets all in a lather when people cheat the system. Look for a huge counterfeit license plate industry in China before the end of the month.

  • avatar

    Does anyone else find it weird that a “communist” country uses an auction for its license plates?

    If that isn’t capitalist and/or elitist (is that the right word…the rich are the ones who can afford it), I don’t know what is.

    • 0 avatar

      Not weird at all. Why would you go through the hassle to restrict something and not make money off it? In China, if you can make a buck doing something, you do it.

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