I decided a while back that I had had enough bad experiences with taxi drivers in Shanghai, including a recent minor but very scary accident… I’ve decided to get my driver’s license in China and to get a car… By the way, the post of my friend John on how to get your driving license in China is very useful. I must say it’s pretty easy for us Belgians to get our license in China thanks to bilateral agreements between Belgium and China… We only have to spend (or waste depending how you look at it) time in one of the numerous chinese administrations and the you get your pass to some crazy driving.
Now I can rent a car pretty easily in any of the big names of the industry like Hertz, Avis, etc… but I was more considering getting my own car. This weekend I visited a few dealership only to find out that things are quite different from home, even for something as simple as getting a car… What striked me was the absolute uselessness of the salesmen that I ran into. Maybe I was unlucky but I was more under the impression that they really don’t have to sell their cars because demand is so high! The salesmen are actually waiting in their dealerships to fill in orders of cars they have in their own stock. No wonder why they were surprised to see a foreigner asking them questions about the costs of the different options such as leather seats or GPS… you don’t make your own car in China, you just take what is available! Otherwise delays are quite crazy for normal models, up to 7 months for a Volkswagen Golf!
Another interesting point is that you can buy the chinese or the imported version of the same car! You can get a VW Golf made in China, or an imported and thus more expensive one from Germany… And they are not even the same company or dealership… they sell in different places!
Last but not least is the cost of your… car plates! According to a recent article in the Shanghai Daily, prices of car plates are going through the roof! The local government is auctioning number plates on a monthly basis to limit the number of registration… As a result, it costs sometimes more than cheap chinese car to just get a number plate! Last month the price reached 58000RMB (around 7000 euros) for shanghai number plates… I still wonder if I can get free/cheaper plates with the company I created in Shanghai, I’ll check on that for sure! It might be a good investment though… as you can sell your number plates later on!
I haven’t made up my mind yet! I’ll let you know!
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