Car showrooms abuzz over weekend following drop in COE premiums

Potential buyers at the Mazda showroom yesterday. Mazda senior marketing manager David Chung said visitor numbers increased by 30 to 40 per cent after the latest round of COE bidding saw premiums fall. Dealers said prices of cars up to 1,600cc and 13
Potential buyers at the Mazda showroom yesterday.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Cheapest COEs in 5 years draw shoppers, but premiums expected to rebound with demand

Customers flocked to car showrooms over the weekend following the latest drop in certificate of entitlement (COE) premiums.

Dealers said prices of cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp were around $5,000 less after COE premiums fell to their lowest level in nearly five years on Wednesday at $45,002. But they expect prices to rebound as soon as the next round of bidding.

Business at some showrooms, such as those in Alexandra Road, was brisk when The Straits Times visited yesterday.

Mr David Chung, senior marketing manager for Mazda, saw a 30 to 40 per cent rise in visitor numbers.

"Prices for the popular Mazda 3 are a few thousand dollars cheaper than a month ago, mostly because of the lower COE prices," he said. The car now costs at least $95,888.

BETTER TO BUY NEW

I wanted to renew (the COE of) my old car for another five years, but after calculations, I realised that the depreciation of the car would be about the same if I bought a new one.

MR LOH YIH, 51, who runs a machinery company. He paid about $103,000 for a Mazda 3 yesterday.

Mr Eric Chan, Cycle & Carriage managing director of motor operations, said the drop in COE premiums for smaller cars, coupled with the Singapore Motor Show this week, is likely to fuel demand.

The Kia agent is selling a Kia Forte K3 for just below $90,000, around $5,000 less than before.

A Honda Jazz 1.3 hatchback was selling at $91,999 yesterday, $5,000 less than a month ago.

The premium for the open COE, which can be used for any vehicle type, but ends up mostly for bigger cars, closed 4.2 per cent lower at $55,089. The commercial vehicle COE price was 8.6 per cent lower at $42,036 - its lowest in 11/2 years.

The motorcycle premium, however, climbed 4.4 per cent to close at a new high of $6,889.

But Mr Ron Lim, general manager of Nissan agent Tan Chong Motors, expects prices to rebound soon as demand for cars is still strong.

A spokesman for Audi Singapore said an Audi A1 is going for less than $100,000 for the first time. He said the large crowds could also be due to the coming Chinese New Year.

Mr Martin Choo, 42, was considering the Toyota Corolla Altis, which was retailing at $102,988, including COE. "Prices are back to 2011 levels, although it's not guaranteed that I can get it at this premium because, looking at the crowd, COE prices will rebound," said the engineer.

Mr Loh Yih, 51, who runs a machinery company, paid about $103,000 for a Mazda 3 yesterday.

"I wanted to renew (the COE of) my old car for another five years, but after calculations, I realised that the depreciation of the car would be about the same if I bought a new one," he said.

Additional reporting by Seow Bei Yi.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2016, with the headline 'Car showrooms abuzz over weekend'. Print Edition | Subscribe