Now that I have my driver’s license, I’m ready to embark on my next China Process enlightenment. Thank god I have friends who have already done the process and can give me references.
We were renting a pretty new Buick GL8 with driver for 12,000 RMB/month. We negotiated it as all-inclusive so we didn’t pay gas or tolls. It’s a bit more expensive than owning, considering that the resale value of cars are quite good right now in China, but I would’ve probably continued renting for the convenience, but the driver was getting on our nerves.
So I went to the recommended sales consultant at the Buick dealership, and she explained the process in Chinese.
Getting the License Plate
Shanghai has an auction for license plates, ostensibly to limit the number of cars on the road, but many people skirt this by buying much cheaper license plates from other regions. The primary benefit of the SH license plate is that you can drive on the highways during rush hour, but supposedly the ticket for not having the right plates is not that much, maybe 200 RMB, so you can get a lot of tickets before it justifies the cost of the SH plate. However, that doesn’t factor in the inconvenience of being pulled over.
Shanghai is revamping the process because the price was getting too high, almost 50,000 RMB. In January and February 2008, supposedly 40,000 people tried to bid for a license, but only 20,000 got thru the internet or phone. It’s a 2 stage bidding process in the monthly auction. In the first half hour time slot, you put in your bid. In the 2nd half hour slot, they show the lowest bid that still got one of the fixed number of license plates available. In Feb, there were 16,000 available plates, and the lowest bid for #16,000 was 8000 RMB. Then, IF you can get in the internet or phone, you can change your bid to plus or minus 300 RMB from 8000. However, since the access is quite bottlenecked, is very possible you’re stuck with your first bid.
To bid, you have to know when the auction is taking place. A week before the auction, you have to go to the office in XinZhuang to register. You need 2000 RMB cash, passport, visa, temporary residence and some ID showing your Chinese name, like your drivers license.
If you are successful in your bid, then you have a week to make your payments. You take the piece of paper back to your dealership to have them get you the actual plates, which of course needs your passport for 2 business days to complete.
Buying the Car
Once you’ve registered for the license plate auction, you can go to your dealership to make the deposit of 5000 RMB and sign the contract.
Once you’ve successfully bid, you can go into the dealership to inspect the car and pay the remainder.
Once you’ve gotten the license plate paperwork, you bring it to the dealer to get the plates. They’ll do the upgrades at the same time.
2008 Buick GL8