Car orders may outstrip COE supply, traders say

People checking out cars at the Audi showroom in Alexandra Road. Motor traders reported higher showroom traffic and stronger sales over the weekend, and expect the interest to continue this weekend. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
People checking out cars at the Audi showroom in Alexandra Road. Motor traders reported higher showroom traffic and stronger sales over the weekend, and expect the interest to continue this weekend. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Strong interest sparked by lower premiums expected to continue

The number of car orders made over the past weekend alone could outstrip the supply of certificates of entitlement (COE) at the next tender, industry players said.

It means premiums could go back up - though the shift may not be drastic if bidding is not aggressive.

Motor traders reported higher showroom traffic and stronger sales over the weekend, sparked by lower COE premiums at the latest tender that ended last Wednesday, though they declined to disclose specific figures.

They expect the strong interest to continue this weekend.

Mr Ron Lim, general manager at Nissan agent Tan Chong Motors, reckons the crowds could increase further, as some people might have gone away last week to take advantage of the Vesak Day holiday.

A Volkswagen spokesman said crowds at its Alexandra and MacPherson locations were about three times the usual number, with interest centred on the Jetta and Golf models in Category A. Many buyers owned seven- or eight-year-old cars, he added.

"We had very good sales at both showrooms," he said. "In general, buying sentiment which has not been around for some time has returned."

The higher interest comes after COE premiums for cars up to 1,600cc or 130bhp tumbled by 15.9 per cent to a 21-month low of $60,002, while COE prices for larger cars fell by about $5,000.

Audi Singapore senior manager for public relations Lee Nian Tjoe said both showroom traffic and sales were "much stronger than usual" for the German brand.

Mr Raymond Tang, honorary secretary of the Singapore Vehicle Traders Association, said more customers visited used car showrooms on Sunday. Many were looking for used cars with two to three years left on their COE, to tide them over in the near future as they observe where COE premiums are heading, he noted.

Though buyer interest spiked, many still took a wait-and-see approach, such as 42-year-old Tony Choo, who wants to swop his eight-year-old Honda Edix for a Mazda 6.

"Even if I go in now, I may not get the car I want," he said. "So many people are flooding in. My thinking is to wait for a few weeks for the situation to stabilise."

roysim@sph.com.sg

davidee@sph.com.sg