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Hard to shake status symbol appeal of car ownership

The Government has a formidable task to convince more people in Singapore to give up their cars (More can be done in move towards car-lite society, by Mr Sammi Soh Sin; Nov 6).

Many motorists are still loath to give up their set of wheels for reasons that go beyond reliability and convenience.

The enormous cost of buying and maintaining a private vehicle has forced only marginal car owners to give up driving.

Car owners are reluctant to part with something that has become an extension of themselves, and not merely a means of transport.

A car is more than a possession. It conveys a person's sense of self, which reflects who he is and his aspirations. For many people, conspicuous consumption may boost their sense of identity and also project a certain standing as well as importance.

In land-scarce Singapore, car ownership can become a status symbol.

Car owners may perceive themselves as being of a higher social status owing to their expensive possessions.

Based on current prices, we are rapidly approaching the day when only the top earners will be able to possess a set of wheels.

This will, in fact, make car ownership even more attractive to those who can afford it.

Edmund Khoo Kim Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 19, 2017, with the headline 'Hard to shake status symbol appeal of car ownership'. Print Edition | Subscribe