LTA to test power of new Cat A cars before their sale

SINGAPORE - By October, the engine power of new Category A cars will have to be tested vigorously before they can be sold here.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said these models will be put on a chassis dynamometer - a "treadmill" for cars - to determine how much power they produce.

It will also review technical data supplied by importers and dealers through "independent checks with overseas counterparts" and other resources.

The move comes after a new new certificate of entitlement (COE) classification was introduced in February. Besides a 1,600cc cap on engine size, cars in COE Category A must not produce more than 130bhp or 97kW.

This was meant to level the playing field for sellers of mass-market cars, who in recent years have been edged out of Category A by luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

However, as soon as the new criterion was implemented, dealers of premium models began introducing cars with 122bhp to maintain their share of the Category A market.

Sources say this is why the LTA is taking steps to ensure cars actually produce the power declared by their manufacturers.

Due to the extra procedures, "motor dealers can expect a longer approval period", the LTA told The Straits Times, which understands it will now take up to four months to approve a car - up from four weeks previously.

It is the first time the authority has shed light on a backlog of new cars at its inspection centre in Sin Ming Drive.

There had been speculation by traders - some of whom have had cars stuck for seven months - that the LTA was planning further changes to the COE system.

The authority told motor traders of the new procedures at a meeting yesterday. Many were not thrilled.

Mr Ron Lim, general manager of Nissan agent Tan Chong Motor, said: "Together with the time it takes for cars to arrive here, it will take six months to launch a new car. Singapore has always been among the first to launch new models. With this, it's going to be very different."

Mr Nicholas Wong, general manager of Honda agent Kah Motor, said: "The COE quota period is now shorter at three months. So if it takes four months before we can launch a car, how do we do our planning?"

A trader who did not wish to be named said: "We told them that they should not use a power cap in the first place. But they didn't listen. Now, they're throwing the problem back to us."

This article was first published on June 28, 2014.
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