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Chase for that car heats up

THEY'RE BACK: Car buyers are back in the showrooms as the latest fall in COE premiums gave them enough of a push to consider buying again.


    May 12, 2014

    Chase for that car heats up

    CAR showrooms were teeming with people over the weekend, after certificate of entitlement (COE) premiums fell last week.

    Car dealers who spoke to My Paper said there was a surge in business, not just in footfalls.

    Nicholas Wong, general manager for Honda dealer Kah Motor, estimated that sales doubled over the weekend.

    "I haven't seen this many people for so long," he told My Paper, and added that it was good for the industry.

    The new-car industry here was badly hit by a a COE quota restriction earlier this year.

    COE prices went up following a record-low quota for COEs released by the Land Transport Authority. But for the next three months till July, more COEs will be released.

    Car Times enjoyed the same brisk sales over the weekend.

    Managing director Eddie Loo said that his company sold nine cars, compared to five on other weekends. He described sales as "fantastic".

    "The salesmen were kept busy. Many who came already knew they wanted to buy a car," he said.

    He added that Japanese cars were selling better than they were in previous months.

    Prices of entry-level models fell below the psychologically significant $100,000 mark, rare in recent times even for bread-and-butter brands like Toyota and Nissan.

    Category A COE premiums for small cars up to 1,600cc dropped to a 21-month low of $60,002. Category B for cars above 1,600cc fell from $75,010 to $70,000.

    Second-hand car dealers, who have suffered since loan restrictions kicked in, also saw a marginal increase in sales.

    John Lim, sales director of used-car dealership Republic Auto, said that his company managed to sell 12 cars over the weekend, compared with fewer than 10.

    Even though premiums fell last month, dealers said they did not enjoy more sales then, as some potential buyers had been waiting for premiums to drop further.

    And last week's fall provided some of the motivation they needed.

    When My Paper visited two showrooms yesterday, there were people who had already decided to commit to buying a car, though some others had decided to wait longer.

    Engineer Christopher Loh, 40, had held off buying a car for some time, and decided to continue waiting it out for a few more months.

    But for Leai Kok Mun, who bought a Toyota Altis at $109,000 from the Toyota showroom in Ubi, there could be no better time to replace his seven-year-old car.

    He does not think premiums are about to drop much further.

    "If it rises again from next month, I don't know how many months or years I may have to wait," said the 44-year-old, who works in advertising.