In a bid to curb traffic jams and pollution, Shanghai has restricted the number of license plates it issues each year and has priced cars as a luxury item for the local population. Although imported luxury cars (Mercedes, BMW) are very expensive,
General Motors and Volkswagen cars, which are made in Shanghai, are cheap when compared to Europe or the States.
Individuals and private companies in Shanghai are free to buy a car but have to go through an arduous procedure before driving off. In order to register a new car, you have to bid in an auction for a restricted number of licence plates. The "sealed bid" auctions have been held by the local government once a month since 1986, with the lofty goal of keeping the number of cars under control and curbing traffic congestion.
About 10,000 licence plates are sold each month at prices averaging above 100,000 RMB. Bidders usually exceed the supply of number plates by a factor of two. To give you a rough idea of the bids below some statistics:
The Saturday bidding is held once a month online. To participate, you must register at one of several places in Shanghai and pay a USD$150 deposit. The bids can also be placed by phone other than the Internet, but most people do it online with computer themselves. Although there are more and more Huangniu who charge 10,000-30,000 RMB to help you to bie online.
Another option, is the possibility of buying a used car in Shanghai. Some 842,000 used cars were sold in the city in 2016, according to the Shanghai Second-Hand Car Association. Now there are some 2,700,000 cars on the streets of Shanghai, of which 300,000 are owned by individuals. This is possibly the easiest route and you should contact a local dealer for more information on the secondhand availability of the type of vehicle you are interested in purchasing.
What to be be aware of when buying a car
We recommend to select a reputable car dealer when purchasing a car and rather buy a so-called luxurious version which would be more comparable with a car of Western standards.
It might be wiser decision to lease a car with a family driver through car rental agent.It saves the all the hassels.