COE Watch Podcast: Why 6-digit COE prices are the new normal: Ex-industry insider reveals

ST's senior transport correspondent Lee Nian Tjoe (extreme left) hosts Mr Say Kwee Neng (second from right) who has been in the motor trade for more than 20 years. They are in the studio with podcast editor Ernest Luis (extreme right) and podcast producer Fa'izah Sani (second from left).

Synopsis: The Straits Times offers expert insights to Singapore’s mobility trends and the vehicle quota system, which includes the Certificate of Entitlement (COE).

There are two tender exercises for these COEs every month. It typically opens for three days, from noon on a Monday and to 4pm on Wednesday. But the bidding action only comes alive in the final hour or so, as more bids start to appear and the premiums climb. 

To help us understand what goes on behind the scenes in that last 60 minutes, ST’s senior transport correspondent Lee Nian Tjoe speaks with Mr Say Kwee Neng, who has been in the motor trade for more than 20 years.

Highlights (click/tap above):

2:00 What goes on the final hour of bidding and who is typically left in last crucial 15 minutes of the bidding exercise

5:28 Three reasons why a dealership may be more driven to bid aggressively to secure COEs

7:45 “Inside” a big dealership: Setting up a wall of computers dedicated to securing COEs

12:45 Why motor dealers do not want to drive up COE premiums; best time to buy a car today?

17:10 Why it is “not the consumer’s problem” when COEs rise

23:20 Say Kwee Neng: “There is no chance that COE premiums will come down. The days of a five-figure COE are well and truly over.”

Produced by: Lee Nian Tjoe (, Ernest Luis, Fa’izah Sani and Paxton Pang

Edited by: Fa’izah Sani

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