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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'. Subscribe