COE prices fall on 'shorter bidding period due to CNY'

Certificate of entitlement (COE) prices ended lower across the board at the first tender in the Year of the Dog.

Motor industry players attribute the latest results to a shorter bidding period because of the Chinese New Year break last week.

COE prices for cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp fell by 8 per cent to close at a five-month low of $36,810. COE prices for cars above 1,600cc or 130bhp slipped by 7.8 per cent to finish at $39,000 - the lowest since February 2016.

Premiums for Open COE, which can be used for any vehicle type except motorcycles, dipped by 2.8 per cent to end at an eight-year low of $38,801.

Commercial vehicle COE prices fell by 3.8 per cent to close at a nine-month low of $36,859.

Motorcycle premiums tumbled by 9.3 per cent to finish at $7,667 - still among the highest they have ever been.

Motor firms are likely to cut car prices to reflect the drop in premiums. The Volkswagen Golf 1.0, for instance, is now $108,900 - $3,000 less than before.

Mr Neo Nam Heng, chairman of diversified motor group Prime, said he expects buyers to return to showrooms this time round.

"The showrooms have been very empty in the last two months," he noted.

But he does not expect COE premiums to rebound aggressively until "around May to June". That will be just ahead of another change in emission regulations, which require car importers to include fine particulate matter level in the list of pollutants in the Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES).

"Car companies will once again persuade buyers to come in... otherwise, prices might go up by another $10,000," Mr Neo said, referring to the same sales tactic used in the last two quarters of last year to woo consumers ahead of the VES.

Industry watchers said this could be one reason for the current subdued market, as many consumers had brought forward their purchases because of the VES factor.

Christopher Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2018, with the headline 'COE prices fall on 'shorter bidding period due to CNY''. Subscribe