Small-car COE prices lowest in over 8 years in latest tender

PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Certificate of entitlement (COE) prices ended mostly lower in the latest tender on Wednesday (Dec 5) as demand remained lukewarm in the face of weak consumer sentiment.

The COE premium for cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp closed 5.7 per cent lower at $23,568 - its lowest level since March 2010.

COE prices for cars above 1,600cc or 130bhp finished 0.3 per cent lower at $31,001. Premiums for Open COE, which can be used for any vehicle type except motorcycles but which ends up mostly for bigger cars, also closed 0.3 per cent lower at $30,851.

Commercial vehicle COE prices finished 1.8 per cent lower at $27,009. Motorcycle COE premiums bucked the trend to end 13.7 per cent higher at $3,399 as sliding prices brought new buyers in from the sidelines.

Car dealers said soft premiums had less of an impact on their customers, though.

Mr Ron Lim, head of sales and marketing at Nissan agent Tan Chong Motor, said: "The market has been very weak. I think buyers are apprehensive of the uncertain economic outlook for 2019."

He said Category A buyers (cars up to 1,600cc) are "more sensitive to this kind of sentiment".

Category B (cars above 1,600cc) is not much better, but has been held up by demand for cars on the back of Indonesian ride-hailing firm Gojek's arrival.

The Straits Times understands although Gojek does not subscribe to an asset-owning strategy (unlike Uber, which has since exited the market), its dealer partners have had to buy a sizeable fleet of hybrid cars. Hybrid cars, which are typically Category B models, are favoured by drivers because of their superior fuel efficiency.

Mr Lim noted that the market now is "very buyer-driven".

"If buyers still do not find the current prices attractive, premiums will fall further," he added.


Category Current COE premium ($) Previous COE premium ($)
A - Car (1,600cc & below) 23,568 25,000
B - Car (above 1,600cc)  31,001 31,101
C - Goods vehicle & bus 27,009 27,509
D - Motorcycle 3,399 2,989
E - Open 30,851 30,959

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.