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    Feb 18, 2015

    COE prices for small cars close to 3-year low

    IN WHAT could be a sign of things to come for car buyers in the Year of the Goat, certificate of entitlement (COE) prices took another tumble at the latest tender yesterday.

    COEs for cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp took the sharpest fall of 7.7 per cent to end at $57,199 - their lowest level in almost three years.

    COEs for cars above 1,600cc or 130bhp fell by 5.8 per cent to close at a seven-month low of $66,751.

    Open COEs, which can be used for any vehicle type but end up mainly for bigger cars, eased by 5.6 per cent to finish at $67,901 - also their lowest in seven months.

    Together with falls posted in the previous tender two weeks ago, car premiums have dropped by around $10,000 each for all categories in the past one month.

    Motor traders reckon the trend will continue.

    Said Nicholas Wong, general manager of authorised Honda agent Kah Motor: "I think there will be a continuous slide with every new quota from now."

    The next COE quota, from May to July, is expected to be even bigger than the current one.

    Ron Lim, general manager of Nissan agent Tan Chong Motor, said the market has been "weak" despite last month's drop in prices, as consumers stayed on the sidelines in hopes of even lower prices after Chinese New Year.

    Mr Lim said an increase in the number of cars deregistered - as they approach their mandatory lifespan of 10 years - has not been matched by buying demand.

    According to Land Transport Authority figures, car deregistrations for last month crossed 5,000 units for the first time in several years.

    "We hear cases of people going without a car for the time being," Mr Lim said. "They feel that prices are still high."

    For instance, a Toyota Corolla - the most popular car here - cost $116,888 two weeks ago. Even if the entire COE component was excluded, it would still be $54,886 - higher than the $52,988 price posted six years ago, when COEs for the car were around $1,000.

    Meanwhile, commercial vehicle and motorcycle buyers were not given a reprieve.

    COEs for vans, buses and trucks ended 2.1 per cent higher at $53,202, while motorcycle premiums climbed 5.4 per cent to set yet another record price of $5,800.