The Cars@Expo: Show for shoppers

The Lexus RX is one of the highlights at The Cars@Expo.
The Lexus RX is one of the highlights at The Cars@Expo. PHOTO: LEXUS

Next weekend's The Cars@Expo promises wheel deals across multiple brands under one roof

The only local automotive event featuring new and used cars alongside accessories under one roof is back.

The Cars@Expo, organised by Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) ST Classifieds and sgCarMart, returns for the second time this year on Oct 5 and 6 at Singapore Expo halls 3 and 4.

Unlike the year's first show in April, which took place in the midst of rising COE prices, the upcoming event sees certificate of entitlement premiums stabilising.

At below $32,000 for cars up to 1,600cc and $37,000 for cars above 1,600cc, the premiums are 4 and 23 per cent lower respectively than their rates in April.

The Open category, at $40,000, hints at motor dealers stockpiling COEs in anticipation of urgent deliveries at the show. Although higher than the big-car COE it is a proxy to, the Open premium is 24 per cent lower than it was in April.

So, the show is fortuitously well timed. But it offers more.

SPH's chief commercial officer Ignatius Low says: "It's still the best place to go to check out a few car models at once with the family. And the participation of almost all dealers in Singapore ensures competitive pricing."

With just one quarter left to the year end, competition is expected to go on overdrive. Motor firms lagging behind in their sales targets - which are usually pegged to incentives dangled by carmakers - will be more aggressive in their selling.

  • VIEW IT / THE CARS@EXPO

  • WHERE: Halls 3 and 4, , Singapore Expo Convention & Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive

    WHEN: Oct 5 and 6, 10am to 8pm

    ADMISSION: Free

    INFO: carsatexpo.sg

Which is both good and bad. Good, because aggressive pricing means thinner margins, which usually translate to weaker COE premiums.

Bad, because sellers become more desperate to realise every sale and, ironically, this desperation could lead to more aggressive COE bids.

Of course, each company will have its own strategy, but most players now realise there is little point in pursuing COEs to the detriment of profitability.

In any case, the above dynamics apply regardless of whether there is a car show. For consumers, the draw of Cars@Expo is clearly having a buffet of vehicles at a one-stop destination.

Those looking to buy a used car need not even worry about which direction COEs are headed. There are around 10 used car exhibitors at the show.

For new cars, there are more than a dozen exhibitors, including those representing brands like Audi, BMW, Nissan, Range Rover, Renault and Lexus.

Here are some car models which are highlights of the show:

AUDI A6 2.0TFSI

This is the first public outing for the A6's wallet-friendlier variant. While it may not possess as much oomph as its 3-litre sibling launched early this year, it offers as much real estate and road presence.

BMW 1-SERIES

This is a chance to catch the latest junior BMW if you missed it at BMWFestSG two weeks ago. The third-generation car debuts with BMW Operating System 7.0 and digital key.

BYD e6

This Chinese electric tall hatch is one of the pioneers among battery-powered cars. It has proven its durability as a for-hire vehicle in the past few years and is now available to individuals who want a spacious no-frills car with a low running cost (electricity is significantly cheaper than petrol).

LEXUS RX

The 2020 model year RX boasts ultra-thin headlights which contrast against a massive spindle grille that is now more three-dimensional. They take up the whole front portion of its front bumper assembly. The car looks the part of an urban jungle basher.

NISSAN SERENA E-POWER

This new model spearheads Nissan's goal to have a fully electrified range here by 2022. It is a hybrid with a twist - with the wheels powered exclusively by an electric motor. A 1.2-litre petrol engine on board acts as a generator to recharge the lithium-ion battery.

RANGE ROVER EVOQUE

This is the environmentally friendlier variant, powered by a 2-litre engine supported by a mild hybrid system which cuts consumption by 6 per cent. Not exactly a new model, but a detuned version which promises better fuel efficiency.

SEAT TARRACO

This mid-sized multi-seat SUV from Volkswagen-owned Spanish brand Seat is newish (landed in the middle of the year). Still worth checking out if you want something with plenty of tech and space, but small on engine displacement (1.4-litre).

There are plenty of offerings from other brands, including Hyundai, Renault, Skoda, Jeep, Volvo, Infiniti, Subaru, Kia, Mazda, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Ford, Toyota and Suzuki.

And if you end up buying a new car, go sign up as an Esso Smiles rewards programme member at the Esso booth and get a free car vacuum cleaner.


All about cars

The Cars@Expo is a retail-oriented automotive event held twice a year at the Singapore Expo Convention & Exhibition Centre in Upper Changi.

The first one was held in April 2015, taking over from the annual CATS Car-nival. CATS stands for Classified Advertisements Telephone Sales.

It remains the only major automotive event in Singapore showcasing new cars as well as used cars. Admission is free and the show is open from 10am to 8pm on both days.

Even though it is a retail event, there are usually new models too. Suzuki agent Champion Motors unveiled the new Jimny during the April show, and Nissan agent Tan Chong Motor will show off the new Serena e-Power. Lexus will unveil the 2020 model year RX at next weekend's event.

For car sellers, the event is a sales boost. The show in October last year generated record sales of some 1,800 cars worth more than $190 million.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2019, with the headline 'Show for shoppers'. Print Edition | Subscribe