Certificate of entitlement (COE) prices ended higher across the board at the latest tender yesterday - the eve of the Singapore Motorshow.
The premium for cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp rose by 7.4 per cent to end at an eight-month high of $35,320, while that for cars above 1,600cc or 130bhp climbed 3.1 per cent to close at $37,109.
The Open COE category, which can be used for any vehicle type except motorcycles but which ends up mostly for bigger cars, finished at $38,000, merely $11 or 0.03 per cent higher.
COE premiums have been on the downtrend since November, but motor industry players expect the Singapore Motorshow, which runs from today till Sunday, to whip up buying interest.
They also attribute the higher prices to the three-week gap since the previous tender. Usually, the break is two weeks, but three-week gaps crop up during longer months. Longer breaks allow dealers to collect more orders, which in turn translate into more bids.
Mr Neo Nam Heng, chairman of diversified motor group Prime, said the market is fundamentally still weak. He said the COE categories for bigger cars "moved only in the last five minutes" of bidding. "This reflects the real market sentiment."
Purchases of bigger cars are deemed to be more discretionary than small-car purchases, and thus more closely tied to economic sentiment.
Mr Nicholas Wong, general manager for Honda agent Kah Motor, said the premium for smaller cars has also been bolstered by private-hire demand.
The private-hire car population (which includes a small percentage of traditional self-drive rental cars) stood at 76,527 as of last November - up from 66,480 at end-2018.
Meanwhile, commercial vehicle COE prices climbed 5.2 per cent to $24,402. Motorcycle premiums finished 9 per cent higher at $3,989.