As expected, there will be slightly fewer certificates of entitlement (COEs) for the February to April quota period.
Around 6,350 COEs will be available for bidding each month, 7 per cent fewer than the 6,830 in the current quota period, the Land Transport Authority said yesterday.
The COE supply for cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp will average 1,945 a month, or 4.5 per cent smaller than the 2,036 available currently. The supply for cars above 1,600cc or 130bhp will average 1,966 - a dip of 2.8 per cent from the 2,023 available now.
There will be 655 COEs a month for the Open category, 13.1 per cent down from 754.
COEs in this category can be used for any vehicle type except motorcycles but end up almost exclusively for bigger cars.
Commercial vehicle COE bidders will see the smallest drop. They will have 629 certificates a month, 0.9 per cent fewer than the 635 they have today.
The motorcycle COE supply will see the sharpest contraction of 16.4 per cent - from 1,382 to 1,155.
The across-the-board drop in supply has partly to do with more people extending the lifespan of their vehicles instead of scrapping them by the 10th year. It is only when a vehicle is scrapped that a fresh COE is released.
There were 49,726 COEs revalidated (or renewed) in the first nine months of last year, almost matching the 52,960 revalidated for the whole of 2018.
Motor traders do not expect COE premiums to soar with the smaller quota as the weaker economic outlook this year will temper demand for new cars.
Mr Neo Nam Heng, chairman of diversified motor group Prime, said: "Prices will stabilise. People are likely to be more cautious this year."
He expects car premiums to hover between $35,000 and $40,000 for models up to 1,600cc; and $40,000 and $45,000 for those above 1,600cc.
In the most recent tender last week, the two categories closed at $35,320 and $37,109 respectively.