China: When the license plate is as expensive as a luxury car

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When the license plate is as expensive as a luxury car

China: When the license plate is as expensive as a luxury car-luxury

In order to curb the growth of cars in major Chinese cities, new registrations are rationed, license plates auctioned and raffled off. The rich, superstitious Chinese zeven count seven-digit amounts for a license plate with the correct numbers

Source: picture alliance / dpa / zhang wei htf Ken

Anyone who can afford it in China pays a fortune for a license plate with the correct sequence of numbers. Because that should bring luck and prosperity – and the state also benefits from it.

E.s are the most expensive pieces of sheet metal in the Middle Kingdom. In the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, a very wealthy Chinese bought a pair of license plates beginning with “Yue”, which stands for Guangdong Province, and the letter “B” for Shenzhen.

But above all, the successful bidder was attracted by the following sequence of numbers: 8888. The auction, to which twelve auction houses in Shenzhen connected online, started at 30,000 yuan (about 3640 euros). After a heated bidding war, the hammer fell at 1.72 million yuan, the equivalent of around 208,000 euros.

The license plate fan could undoubtedly have bought a luxury sedan of the premium class for this. But he was attracted by the lucky numbers, so shortly before the Spring Festival, which began on January 31st with the Chinese New Year of the Horse. Instead of just relying on horsepower under the bonnet, panoramic roof and leather interior, status-conscious and superstitious Chinese get the right license plate for them.

They are particularly fond of the eight. It is pronounced "fa" in Cantonese, as in "facai" – which means "get rich". So anyone who drives up to their business partners with the combination of four eights makes a particularly big impression.

"Lucky Numbers Auction"

The 1.72 million yuan replaced the previous record price that was paid for a car sign. A shoe manufacturer from the east Chinese coastal city of Wenzhou, the Mecca of private industry, had paid around 1.66 million yuan in July 2006 for a license plate with five eights, "Zhejiang C88888".

The entrepreneur mounted the sign on his new BMW 760. China‘s website “The Big World of Cars” scoffed: The twelve-cylinder would have cost him only marginally more than the signs with a new price of 1.96 million yuan.

The fate of the license plate owner is followed like the life of lottery millionaires in Europe. Eighth did not bring the BMW driver any luck. At the end of 2010, the newly rich entrepreneur had to part with his car and the signs again because of debts.

The bad luck does not seem to be a deterrent. The Shenzhen City Traffic Bureau auctioned a total of 500 license plates in the past few days. Local media speak of the "Jixiang Haopai", the "lucky number auction". The local newspaper "Jingbao" heated up the mood: A luxury car only becomes a true status symbol with a lucky number plate.

Only for private entrepreneurs and the nouveau riche

On the other hand, there was opposition on the Internet. “You can buy a 100-square-meter apartment outside of Shenzhen for a million yuan. But in Shenzhen you just get half a license plate for it, ”complained one user.

Others wondered what right the city had to sell license plates that belonged to the public. At least on this point, the authorities were able to reassure the critics: The money raised is to be invested in the transport infrastructure.

The lucky numbers were determined by the traffic authorities, wrote the "Beijing News". In one weekend alone, 200 signs were sold at the auction for around 33 million yuan (four million euros). In the course of the anti-corruption campaigns, only private entrepreneurs and the nouveau riche are allowed to participate in the auction, but not officials or state-owned companies.

In addition to the number eight, the number six (“liu”) also auctioned off well. It stands for the term "Liuliu Dashun" (everything goes smoothly). The minimum bid for signs with two eights or two sixes in a row started with a starting price of 5000 yuan (around 600 euros).

Three identical digits started at 10,000 yuan and four at 30,000 yuan. The number four ("si") was not included. She would certainly have gone away at a bargain price. "Si" sounds similar to the sign of death, a bad omen, especially for drivers.

Auction to curb the growth of the car population

Vehicle signs without a car have been worth more than a small car in Shanghai for the last 20 years. Since 1994, every city citizen who wants to drive a car in the super metropolis with 2.8 million vehicles registered today has to bid for the vehicle number.

The traffic authority limits the growth of its car fleet with around 9,000 new registrations each month. This January it released 8,100 car registrations. 41,000 buyers applied, who only won the bid at the average auction price of 73,501 yuan (8,800 euros).

80 percent of those willing to buy went away empty-handed. As early as May 2012, Shanghai civil authorities issued a special decree that license plates represent a fortune.

Owners of them would not be eligible for social assistance, which the city pays beneficiaries up to a maximum of 505 yuan a month. "Shanghai Daily" reported at the time that citizens in need could be expected to sell secondhand vehicle signs in their possession.

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