Singaporean car owners must now allocate between $76,000 and $112,000 to secure a 10-year Certificate of Entitlement (COE)
October 5, 2023 at 19:48
Singapore has long been one of the most expensive countries on earth to buy a car and residents will now have to cough up more than ever to register and drive their vehicles on local roads.
To drive a car in Singapore, individuals must participate in a bidding process to obtain a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) that grants them the right to drive a vehicle for a decade. Introduced in 1990 to manage car numbers, COE costs have recently surged. The lowest certificate, Category A for vehicles with engines up to 1.6 liters or under 130 hp, now commences at S$104,000, roughly equivalent to US$76,000 in the United States.
For Category D, encompassing larger vehicles with engines exceeding 1.6 liters or over 130 hp, the COE commands a steep price of S$146,002 (US$106,000). Furthermore, the “Open” category, which imposes no restrictions on vehicle type, has soared to a record high of S$152,000 (US$112,000).
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In the commercial vehicles segment, denoted as Category C that includes buses and vans, COE premiums are set at S$85,900 (US$63,000). As for motorcycles, listed under Category D, the COE costs S$10,856 or nearly US$8,000.
Nevertheless, as shown in the list above, Singaporean bidders exceeded the allocated quotas in this latest round. It’s also worth noting that the average income for a Singaporean is approximately S$70,000 (US$51,200) per year.
The tiny nation has capped the number of vehicles allowed on local roads to approximately 950,000. The cost of the entry-level COE plummeted to approximately S$30,000 ($21,904) in 2020 when fewer residents were using cars. However, it has since surged more than threefold due to an economic upswing following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read: In Singapore, There Are Nearly 30x More BMWs And 5x More Porsches Than Teslas
Reuters notes that purchasing, owning, and driving a typical Toyota Camry Hybrid in Singapore costs around S$251,388 or the U.S. equivalent of $183,000. These prices have put car ownership out of reach for many of the nation’s 5.5 million residents.
In 2008, insurance agency Jason Guan purchased a Toyota Rush for S$65,000 (about US$48,000) including the price of the 10-year COE. He has since sold his car despite being the father to two children.
“As a family man, it doesn’t affect me much as Singapore still has a good and stable education system. In terms of security, it’s still one of the safest countries,” he said.
Despite the exorbitant money needed to own a car in Singapore, there remains a thriving car culture in the country. In fact, a recent video produced by Hagerty revealed that there are plenty of burgeoning private collections in Singapore, including a handful with million-dollar exotics.
Alice Chang, a representative from Toyota Borneo Motors, told the BBC that the dealers were not surprised by the increase in COE costs due to the extremely high demand for new vehicles. “Whenever we have luxury cars, buyers are queuing up outside our store,” she said.
Additional reporting by John Halas