The Taipei City Motor Vehicles Office’s auction of rental car plates ending with the numbers 88 saw a “super plate” go for more than NT$3.5 million (US$116,000).
The super plate was “8888-88,” as the character ba (八) in Chinese sounds similar to fa (發) and it is therefore considered lucky.
After more than 210 bids on Thursday, the Motor Vehicles Office said the super plate was auctioned off at a new record-setting price, adding that with the other 584 plates auctioned off on the same day, the office made a record NT$7.4 million.
Photo: Tsai Wei-chi, Taipei Times
Hsu Hsiu-lung (徐秀龍), a division chief at the Motor Vehicles Office, said plate “5888-88,” sold for NT$889,000 after 155 bids.
The character 5 in Internet-speak is similar to the character for “me” (我), which implies that the driver would be rich.
The starting prices for the two plates were NT$6,000 and NT$3,000 respectively, Hsu said, adding that other high bids included those for the plates “9999-88” and “1688-88,” which sold for NT$61,000, and “5168-88,” which went for NT$51,000.
The plates ending in 88 are for rental cars and are not available to ordinary drivers, which led to the high bids, Hsu said, adding that several car rental agencies had specific plate numbers in mind because of customer requests.
The announcement by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in 2009 that it would cancel plans to change all license plates and implement a seven-digit license plate system rather than the current six-digit system also led to an unusually high number of bids, Hsu said.
Prior to the record set on Thursday, the highest price for a plate was NT$600,000 in 1992 for “AC-8888.”
The previous record for rental car plates was for plate “8888-QQ” at NT$300,000 in 2007, Hsu said.
The high prices for license plates in the past was mainly the result of a good economy and a soaring stock market, but even then bids never made it past NT$1 million.
Prior to the auction, it had been estimated that the “8888-88” plate would sell for about NT$100,000, Hsu said.
The office said the bidding procedure would not be concluded until the winner had wired the money within 24 hours, adding that if the bidder did not pay, the bid would be suspended for a year and the plate would be kept until the next auction.
Remaining plates that were not sold are available for a fee of NT$2,000, the office said.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer
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