COE price plunge drives crowds to car showrooms

Showroom traffic was up by 30 per cent yesterday, said Mr Gary Quek, sales manager at Honda agent Kah Motor. Because of the lower COE premiums, Honda car prices have dropped by between $3,000 and $5,000, he added.
Showroom traffic was up by 30 per cent yesterday, said Mr Gary Quek, sales manager at Honda agent Kah Motor. Because of the lower COE premiums, Honda car prices have dropped by between $3,000 and $5,000, he added.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Car showrooms along Leng Kee Road and Alexandra Road were abuzz with activity yesterday, with potential buyers turning up in force.

Dealers told The Sunday Times that footfall was between 20 and 30 per cent higher than a regular weekend, and they expect the crowds to flock back today.

While most declined to reveal how many orders they received, Tan Chong Motors' head of sales and marketing Ron Lim said sales are "up more than three times".

Buying interest has revved up after the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices for cars hit their lowest in nearly a decade.

At the latest tender exercise which ended on Wednesday, the premium for cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp dropped by 26.7 per cent to $25,000 - the lowest since March 2010. The COE price for cars above 1,600cc or 130bhp declined by 8.6 per cent to $31,000.

Industry players attributed the fall largely to a tightened vehicular emission ruling that took effect on July 1, which resulted in several car models, like the Mazda 3 sedan, being slapped with surcharges.

Still, the sustained fall in car COE prices over the last few bidding rounds has allowed dealers to keep prices low.

Before July 1, a 1.5-litre Mazda 3 cost $89,000, but it is now going for $80,800 with COE.

Mr Jason Lim, 30, a pharmaceutical specialist, said the drop in COE prices has "accelerated" his decision to get a set of wheels.

"The prices are very attractive. But at the same time, everyone is out shopping and retailers may be giving out better promotions if we shop around," said Mr Lim.

Mr Gary Quek, sales manager at Honda agent Kah Motor, said showroom traffic was up by 30 per cent yesterday.

Because of the lower COE premiums, Honda car prices have dropped by between $3,000 and $5,000, Mr Quek said.

Tan Chong Motors' Mr Lim said a Nissan model that has garnered strong bookings is the Sylphy, with prices starting from $79,800.

"It is the first time in many years that prices are under $80,000 for a 1.6-litre Japanese sedan," he added.

Mr Lim said: "Many buyers have committed but equally many still need time to work out their budgets, as they didn't even think of buying a new car until now."

A senior marketing manager of a car dealership, who declined to be named, was less sanguine.

He said: "We don't expect people to rush in to buy the cars, as they are still evaluating the impact of the lower COE prices and the tighter emissions standards.

"Unlike other dealers, we are not breaking out the champagne just yet."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 08, 2018, with the headline 'COE price plunge drives crowds to car showrooms'. Print Edition | Subscribe