Small-car COE price lowest in 8 years

Certificate of entitlement (COE) prices ended mostly lower in the latest tender yesterday as demand remained lukewarm in the face of weak consumer sentiment.

The COE price for cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp closed 5.7 per cent lower at $23,568, its lowest level since March 2010.

The premium for cars above 1,600cc or 130bhp finished 0.3 per cent lower at $31,001. The price for the Open COE, which can be used for any vehicle type except motorcycles, but which ends up mostly for bigger cars, also closed 0.3 per cent lower at $30,851.

The commercial-vehicle premiumended 1.8 per cent lower at $27,009.

The motorcycle premium bucked the trend to end 13.7 per cent higher at $3,399 as sliding prices brought new buyers in from the sidelines.

But car dealers said soft premiums had less of an impact on their customers.

Mr Ron Lim, head of sales and marketing at Nissan agent Tan Chong Motor, said: "The market has been very weak. I think buyers are apprehensive of the uncertain economic outlook for 2019."

LUKEWARM DEMAND

The market has been very weak. I think buyers are apprehensive of the uncertain economic outlook for 2019.

MR RON LIM, head of sales and marketing at Nissan agent Tan Chong Motor.

He said Category A buyers (cars up to 1,600cc) are "more sensitive to this kind of sentiment". Category B (cars above 1,600cc) is not much better, but has been held up by demand for cars on the back of Indonesian ride-hailing firm Gojek's arrival.

The Straits Times understands that although Gojek does not subscribe to an asset-owning strategy (unlike Uber, which has since exited the market), its dealer partners have had to buy a sizeable fleet of hybrid cars. Hybrid cars, which are typically Category B models, are favoured by drivers because of their superior fuel efficiency.

Mr Lim noted that the market now is "very buyer-driven". "If buyers still do not find the current prices attractive, premiums will fall further," he added.

Christopher Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 06, 2018, with the headline 'Small-car COE price lowest in 8 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe