COE price hike for small cars bucks trend

Certificate of entitlement (COE) prices ended mostly lower at the latest tender yesterday, as consumer sentiment remained weak.

The COE premium for cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp was the only one that bucked the trend. It rose by 3.2 per cent to end at $33,009.

The COE price for cars above 1,600cc or 130bhp fell by 4.5 per cent to end at a three-month low of $37,900. The premium for the Open COE, which can be used for any vehicle type except motorcycles but which ends up almost exclusively for bigger cars, closed 4.9 per cent lower at $38,889, also a three-month low.

Commercial vehicle COE, which fell to an eight-year low at the previous tender two weeks ago, sank further. It dropped by 3.3 per cent to settle at $23,704. The motorcycle premium slipped 3.4 per cent to finish at a five-month low of $3,789.

Industry sources said motor dealers selling bigger cars have largely fulfilled their sales targets for this year and are now collecting orders for next year. This could be why most COE premiums in the latest exercise remained at $1 until the last five minutes of bidding.

Mr Neo Nam Heng, chairman of diversified motor group Prime, said: "This type of last-minute bidding shows that the market is super weak. It is speculative and opportunistic bidding. If dealers had orders in hand, they would not bid in this manner because it is risky."

Motor traders said the COE price for cars up to 1,600cc was propped up by aggressive promotions, including BMW agent Performance Motors' ongoing 2-series campaign. The company aims to sell 500 2-series cars in the last quarter of this year.

Christopher Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2019, with the headline 'COE price hike for small cars bucks trend'. Print Edition | Subscribe