Registrations of parallel-imported (PI) cars trebled in the first six months of this year, outpacing the rest of the auto market with explosive growth.
The number of PI cars registered between January and June was 10,082, a 210 per cent jump from 3,256 last year.
By contrast, the total industry volume - all new cars put on the road in the first half of 2016 - climbed only 68 per cent to 43,423 units.
The H1 surge in the grey market was driven mainly by the Honda Vezel's popularity, as the PI industry rode on steadily expanding quotas of certificates of entitlement (COEs).
From January to June, a total of 5,550 Vezels were registered collectively by parallel importers, enabling the Honda brand to widen the gap from its closest PI competitor, Toyota.
This means every other PI car sold so far this year is a Vezel.
The Vezel's sales strength also made this compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) the top model in Singapore.
Among authorised distributors, the Toyota Corolla Altis sold by official importer Borneo Motors Singapore was the No. 1 model in H1, with 2,816 units registered.
The Vezel is Japan's domestic version of the HR-V, which is the export model offered by authorised Honda distributor Kah Motor.
Vincent Tan, managing director of parallel importer VinCar, said: "Parallel imports have become more popular this year mainly because of the Vezel."
He attributes the strong demand to the car's perfect combination of "price, shape, size and engine".
At an affordable price of about $109,000 with COE, it is an attractive option for the majority of replacement buyers.
The seven-seat Toyota Sienta is No. 3 in H1 in this price-driven segment.
The compact multi-purpose vehicle is now listed at about $108,000 with COE.
But the biggest mover in Q2 has been the Honda Shuttle five-seat station wagon.
The successor to the Honda Airwave jumped four places to No. 4, solely on the basis of its low $100,000 price.
This article by The Business Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.