Japanese, Korean cars enjoy big sales spike
THE number of new cars doubled last year but only the Japanese and Korean makes were able to increase their market share more than proportionately, reflecting the strong replacement demand.
There were a total of 57,589 registrations last year, a 99 per cent jump from the 28,932 units in 2014, as the certificate of entitlement (COE) quota steadily expanded from end-2014.
With more COEs being made available, the Toyota brand kept pace, with 12,171 new passenger cars last year - a 124 per cent spike over 2014's figure, said the Land Transport Authority.
The numbers comprise authorised and parallel imports.
But the brand that really outpaced the COE increase was Honda, which put 7,916 new cars on the road - a 414 per cent jump.
The reason its number of registrations quintupled came mainly from one model - and a parallel-imported one at that - the Vezel.
Nissan and Mazda also scored big last year.
Nissan's 5,574 units and Mazda's 5,287 in effect trebled their respective 2014 tallies.
But the Japanese make which outperformed the market in percentage terms has to be Mitsubishi. It registered 1,379 units or more than 17 times its 2014 total of 79.
Eric Chan, managing director of Singapore motor operations at Cycle & Carriage, attributed this performance to the reopening of the brand's showroom in Alexandra Road.
In 2010, it had cut costs in the face of a shrinking market and was represented by only a dealer showroom in Ubi.
Mr Chan said: "We also introduced two new models, the best-selling Mitsubishi Outlander seven-seater 4WD SUV and our eco-friendly sedan, the Mitsubishi Attrage. Coupled with the increase in the COE quota, these led to our exponential growth in sales for 2015."
This powered Mitsubishi from 25th place in the 2014 brand rankings to 12th in 2015.
Another Japanese brand that moved up the charts is Subaru. It registered 1,668 new cars for a 166 per cent fillip.
It also returned to the top 10 from 12th previously.
The Koreans also did well last year, with Hyundai and Kia notching up twice as many registrations - 1,805 and 1,586 units respectively.
As expected, the main European makes did not gain as much from the quota hike. Their sales last year were higher than in 2014, but only by between 11 and 34 per cent.
Mercedes-Benz, with 5,408 registrations, is now the fourth most popular brand here.
It was runner-up in 2014.
Toyota remains the No. 1 brand for the second year running. Its Corolla Altis is the top model again, with a commanding lead of more than 50 per cent more units sold than its nearest rival, the Mazda3.
The Japanese giant had overtaken Mercedes-Benz in 2014 after the German brand occupied the top spot in 2013.
Before that, BMW was Singapore's most popular make for two straight years, 2012 and 2011.
Those three years - when the two luxury brands topped the sales charts - were also when the COE quotas were at their smallest.
THE BUSINESS TIMES