Car plate price soars to record

The license plate price in Shanghai climbed to a record high at the last auction of 2009.

The average price of a private car plate reached 37,593 yuan (US$5,512) this month, an increase of 2,276 yuan from November, according to organizer Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co.

The lowest price increased 2,000 yuan to 36,900 yuan. Both prices have risen for three straight months.

A total of 8,000 car plates were put under the hammer this month, attracting 18,577 bidders, down 15 percent from November.

Industry analysts said the booming auto market was the reason for the record prices even though there were less bidders month on month.

Some auto buyers wanted to take advantage of a cheaper car sales tax, which is set to increase on January 1, and thus moved up purchase plans.

The state government last week announced it would continue stimulus measures in the auto industry next year to stabilize market demand. But the sales tax on cars with an engine capacity of 1.6 liters or less will be lifted to 7.5 percent next year compared to the 5 percent levy this year.

License plates already sell for more than 40,000 yuan on the second-hand car market.

Dealers said some bidders were not able to get their cars delivered due to market supply and thus made conservative bids.

“Car plate prices are expected to remain stable next year,” said a Dongfeng Peugeot dealer Wang Xin.

“It is difficult to see car plate prices dropping even if the available quota fails to increase,” he added.