More traffic, brisk sales at car showrooms over weekend

Potential buyers at the Nissan showroom in Ubi Road on Saturday, after the unexpected fall in COE premiums last week.
Potential buyers at the Nissan showroom in Ubi Road on Saturday, after the unexpected fall in COE premiums last week.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Some car dealerships saw footfall double and orders increase over the weekend, after an unexpected dive in certificate of entitlement (COE) premiums last week.

When The Straits Times visited showrooms for Toyota, Mazda, Volkswagen, Volvo and Mercedes on Sunday afternoon, each had dozens of people milling around and meeting sales staff.

Premiums for small cars with an engine capacity of up to 1,600cc tumbled nearly 16 per cent to $60,002 - a 21-month low - last Wednesday.

This placed some entry-level Japanese makes below the psychological $100,000 mark. The 1.5- litre Mazda 3 sedan, for instance, is now $99,988, down from $113,988 two weeks ago.

Some car dealers reported brisk sales over the weekend.

Mr Victor Kwan, managing director of Volvo agent Wearnes Automotive, said the number of orders collected over the past two days was about 21/2 to three times more than usual.

Demand was spread pretty evenly among the V40, S60 and XC60 models, he said, adding that staff have been collecting orders for the V40 which is not in stock. "COE (premium) is going to bounce right up," he said.

Mr Nicholas Wong, general manager of Honda dealer Kah Motor, said showroom traffic has at least doubled over the weekend.

There are "certainly more" orders than usual, Mr Wong added, though these have yet to be tallied. "It's welcome relief for the industry. Everywhere, everyone is doing well," he said.

Some first-time buyers such as bank manager Jennifer Hong were quick to ink deals. Ms Hong, 50, who opted for a Mazda 3 for her family, said: "We've been wanting to buy a car for a long time and we're not expecting COE (prices) to drop further."

Dr Tan Kee Wang, 47, bought a 1.4-litre Volkswagen Jetta as a second car with his wife. He agreed, saying: "There's a limited supply (of COEs) and there are many Singaporeans aspiring to own a car."

But others were content to wait and see, in the hope that COE premiums would dip again.

Mr Wang Poon Liang, 45, who was at Toyota's showroom, is hoping for another $15,000 drop. "It has to drop to a level I'm comfortable with. I can afford to wait," said the human resources director who has one year left on his existing car's COE.

Some told The Straits Times that they will buy cheaper used cars if COE premiums rebound.

"It's not a 'must' that we get a new car now," said logistics executive Dylan Lim, 36.