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Sticky car prices keep buyers on sidelines

COE rates down over 20%, but prices of some cars have not kept pace

Published on Jun 20, 2014 6:38 AM
 
Toyota showroom at Leng Kee Complex. Car certificate of entitlement (COE) prices have tumbled by more than 20 per cent since April, but not all car prices have fallen in tandem. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Car certificate of entitlement (COE) prices have tumbled by more than 20 per cent since April, but not all car prices have fallen in tandem. Which may explain why buyers seem to be still holding back.

Among a sample of 15 popular cars, only six had their prices lowered by as much as the COE correction or more.

For instance, the Toyota Corolla Altis and Vios are now priced at $125,888 and $113,888 respectively, $9,100 and $8,100 less than their respective prices on April 10.

The COE for these cars had fallen by $15,501 since.

Over at Volkswagen, the Passat 1.8TSI is now $166,300, $1,500 lower than its May 8 price - or about one-third of the COE drop.

The BMW X5 xDrive35i had fallen by $16,000 to $371,800 since April 5, versus a $17,200 drop in its COE price.

Among cars which have at least kept pace with the COE slide are the Honda City and Odyssey.

Their prices have fallen by $21,000 and $23,000 respectively to $110,900 and $167,900 since April 10 - exceeding the $15,501 and $18,804 drop in their respective COE rates.

With the aggressive cuts, some Hondas are now cheaper than Toyotas - a rare occurrence.

"We want to gain market share," said Mr Nicholas Wong, general manager of Honda dealer Kah Motor.

Mr Wong said the market has been quiet, as consumers are expecting prices to drop further.

Industry watchers expect demand for bigger cars to ease more because higher taxes and the curb on car loans force buyers to downgrade to smaller models.

"Buyers of big cars also can afford to wait longer," said Mr Wong.

"These people are likely to have more than one car, so even if one expires, they have another."

That may also explain why Volkswagen Singapore is having discounts of $5,000 for models up to 1,600cc and 130bhp, and $8,000 for bigger or more powerful models.

Asked why prices of some Hyundai models were still relatively firm, Hyundai agent Komoco's spokesman Jeffrey Low said this was to improve returns, "which have been quite low in recent years".

The "stickiness" of car prices has not escaped consumers.

Banker Chiang Heng-Liang, 54, said despite the drop in COE prices, "cars are not cheap these days".

"I'll decide when my car approaches 10 years, and look at the prices then," he said. "It is five-years-old now."

But engineer Soh Guat Choo, 38, just bought a new Toyota Wish seven-seater "because my family is expanding".

She added that she had traded in her Toyota Altis for $45,000, which she bought for $49,000 five years ago - with a $2 COE.

christan@sph.com.sg

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