It cost 1.5 million yen to get a license plate number in Shanghai ?!

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  • China

Hello everyone, my name is Kou Saitou and welcome to my first blog entry. A recurring theme of this blog is to inform our readers about the various topics surrounding UNIADEX's affiliates located in East and Southeast Asia, and news in the region. In my first post, I would like to introduce the latest topic surrounding Netmarks Shanghai and China新規タブで開く.

First off, I would like to briefly introduce myself.

I was relocated to Netmarks Shanghai from Uniadex in April 2017. At Netmarks Shanghai, I work as a technical manager and I oversea any technical work and help with business development. Netmarks Shanghai mainly provides IT infrastructure services to Japanese companies located in China. Many of our customers are current Uniadex users and we strive to provide the same level of standard to what they can expect in Japan.

The Shanghai office is conveniently located by West Nanjing Road station. On a sunny day, the view from the office is amazing.

Shanghai Natural History Museum
Shanghai Natural History Museum as seem from the Netmarks Shanghai office

Opened in April 2015, the Shanghai Natural History Museum covers over 1,500 sq meters and is home to over 280,000 animal and plant specimens.

Let us get into the main topic.

After moving to China, I started to realize the many cultural differences between China and Japan. I would like to share one of those differences with you.

Social problem caused by the number of vehicles in Shanghai

Along with China's GDP, consumption tax and average income is gradually increasing year by year. With more disposable income, more people are purchasing cars in Shanghai, which has led to major traffic congestion and air pollution within the city. To combat the traffic congestion and air pollution, the city of Shanghai needed to come up with a plan to regulate "the number of vehicles on the road". The city devised a bold plan by setting a quota on the amount of license plate numbers that can be issued and by issuing the license plate numbers via auction.

Many Shanghai residents participate in these auctions, hoping to obtain a license plate number. As a result, the price of license plate numbers has dramatically increased.

Many cars pass by the Netmarks Shanghai office
Many cars pass by the Netmarks Shanghai office

What are license plate number auctions ? Why do license plate numbers cost 1.5 million yen ?!

The license plate number auctions are hosted by the city of Shanghai and can be accessed through the city of Shanghai's homepage.

Auction location Shanghai Municipal People's Government homepage
Frequency Once a month
Date Third Saturday of the month at 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Participation requirement
  • 1Shanghai resident
  • 2Have a valid Chinese driver license
How to participate
  • 1Register National ID number
  • 2Pay 300 yuan participation fee
Bidding rules Maximum bid limit is set, but any bid is accepted
After a successful bid Must purchase a car within 1 year of successful bid

233,761 license plate number seekers participated in the auction held  in a certain month in 2021. Only 13,226 numbers were auctioned off, which means only 5.7% of the 223,761 participants received a number. The opening price has 89,500 yuan (1.45 million yen) and the final winning bid was 92,000 yuan (1.5 million yen). The total successful bid amount was a surprising 1.22 billion yuan (about 20 billion yen)!

Auction results

Numbers auctioned 13,266 Auction participants 233,761
Successful bid percentage 5.67%
Opening price

89,500 yuan (1.45 million yen)

  • Price per license plate number
Bid price

92,000 yuan (1.5 million yen)

  • Price per license plate number

Total bid price 1.22 billion yuan (20 billion yen)

Over 200,000 participants ! Participating in the auction

Our system engineer, Chen Guoan (陳国安) participated in an auction in 2021.
Below is the auction login page.

Login page image

A preregistered user ID is required to login. A puzzle captcha authentication is implemented to prevent against malicious login attempts.

Below is an image of the auction page.

auction page image

More than 200,000 people compete for the highly desired, but limited license plate numbers. Before the auction closes, the participants will flood the server with their final bid, causing immense stress on the server. Some participants are unable to submit their final bid in time due to the server lag.

For this reason, license plate number auction agencies started to appear. These agencies use a fast and stable internet connection to participate in the auctions. Auction participants usually pay these agencies a commission to use their service. Apparently, these agencies are very popular.

However, there is a maximum bid limit set. Even if you submit the highest big, it does not necessarily mean you will win the bid. These auctions have become so competitive that participants must rely on using these agencies.

Annual profit generated from the license plate auctions and Guoan's auction results

The revenue generated by these auctions nets the city of Shanghai 100 billion yen annually. The city of Shanghai puts the money from the license plate number auctions back into city by starting urban development projects and providing free services such as no toll for highways. It seems that some of China's environmental improvements in recent years are attributed to these types of policies.

Unfortunately, Chen Guoan was unable to submit a winning bid for a license plate number this time around. Discouraged, but not defeated, he plans on participating in future auctions.

This concludes my introduction of license plate numbers in Shanghai. I hope everyone had a nice read. The acquisition method is a lot different from Japan, but differences like this is one of the fascinating parts of living in a foreign country. Please look forward to the next blog post!

...One last notice, I will be leaving Netmarks Shanghai and going back to Uniadex! The next post regarding Netmarks Shanghai will be brought to you by a different member.

My duties at Netmarks Shanghai are to ensure the quality of all work being done at Netmarks Shanghai and figure out how to acquire new customers. In my free time, I like taking photos and videos of the places I have visited China.

Some members of the Netmarks Shanghai team. Some members of the Netmarks Shanghai team.