Fierce bidding by Uber keeps COE prices up

Uber's Singapore office in River Valley.
Uber's Singapore office in River Valley. PHOTO: ST FILE

Fuelled by aggressive bids from Uber, certificates of entitlement (COEs) for cars ended higher at the latest tender yesterday, despite the prospect of a bigger quota two weeks from now.

COEs for cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp ended 2.8 per cent higher at $47,300. Those for cars above 1,600cc or 130bhp finished 5.5 per cent higher at $49,602.

The Open category, which can be used for any vehicle type but ends up mostly for bigger cars, closed 4.2 per cent higher at $49,501.

Checks by The Straits Times revealed that Uber-owned Lion City Rental submitted 630 bids in the three categories, and succeeded in obtaining 510 COEs.

In the previous tender, it secured 270 COEs from 810 bids submitted.

Uber's COEs yesterday constituted 14 per cent of total successful bids in the three categories - a disproportionately high percentage for a newcomer which entered the market barely four years ago.

Industry watchers said upward pressure on bids may also come from other private-hire companies such as Grab and SMRT's new outfit, Strides.

Mr Neo Nam Heng, chairman of diversified motor group Prime, said: "Everybody is focusing on private-hire cars now. That is why premiums should have dropped, but have not."

He said that besides Uber, many other private-hire players are waiting to secure COEs, too. "But over the longer term, with more COEs on the way, there should still be enough for consumers," he added. "So, there is no need to rush or panic."

Meanwhile, the commercial vehicle COE fell by 2.7 per cent to close at $43,002.

The motorcycle premium was flat at $6,501, just $2 lower than its previous price two weeks ago.

Overall, a total of 7,203 bids were submitted, 11 per cent fewer than two weeks ago.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2016, with the headline 'Fierce bidding by Uber keeps COE prices up'. Print Edition | Subscribe