The Big Read: Despite sky-high COE prices, Singaporeans’ car dreams never fade

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results about The Big Read: Despite sky-high COE prices, Singaporeans’ car dreams never fade

Meanwhile, Mr Kuanyu Tan, country head for Singapore at online car marketplace Carro, said: “Despite the rising cost of car ownership, about 60 per cent of our customer base are first-time buyers.”

He added: “We’re seeing demand on the rise. We sold over 3,000 cars in Singapore during our financial year 2023 (April 2022 till March 2023) and are on track to see numbers grow for financial year 2024.”

However, some industry players observed that the demand may not be even across all customers.

Mr Amos Wong, general manager of Autolink Holdings, said that prices of second-hand cars are also rising as existing car owners know that a new car of a similar model now can fetch a much higher price than when they bought it a few years ago.

“So the more price conscious buyers looking for smaller, ‘bread and butter’ type of cars are slowly being priced out,” said Mr Wong.

Based on TODAY’s interviews, some common reasons for buying a car are:

Necessity for family and work

Like Romulus, it was fatherhood that prompted Calvin the financial adviser to have his own car.

“Sometimes if around midnight you suddenly find yourself needing to rush to the hospital because your kids are sick, you won’t want to be waiting for a cab or going around finding a car-sharing vehicle,” he said.

Earlier this year, he had to rush his younger daughter to KK Children and Women’s Hospital at 1am when she ran a 40 degrees Celsius fever.

Having the assurance of his own car was worth the premium that he had to fork out for, Calvin said.

For Mr Amirul Azam, director of photography at media company Blissful Studios, he initially relied on rented cars to bring his equipment around for shoots.

But as his business recovered after the COVID-19 pandemic, it made more sense to buy his own car, he said, which he did sometime in April 2022.

“Renting a car with a similar usage pattern, just rental costs alone would reach around S$2,000 (a month),” said the 33-year-old.

“If I were to take taxis or PHVs, it would amount to around S$1,300, though I would be at the mercy of the car availability, or lack thereof.”

Comfort and convenience

Mr Syahiran told TODAY that he managed to get by for about a year with just public transport when he had his first child.

He decided to get a car a year ago as he had switched to a new job that offered more income, and at the same time, his wife was expecting their second child.

Yet, he opined that a car is not strictly necessary to lead a family life.

“I mean, at the end of the day, some people grew up without cars, even with three, four children. So it’s not impossible — (it is) just what kind of comfort level we want,” said Mr Syahiran, who recently switched jobs again and is now a financial advisor.

Similarly, Mr Ben Tan the project manager, who lives in Pasir Ris, uses his car mainly to travel for work and for leisure sports activity.

“It’s definitely something you can do without, it’s just more convenient,” he said.

Passion and Image

Associate Professor Nitin Pangarkar from the National University of Singapore Business School said that one cannot discount the “face” factor behind some Singaporeans wanting to own a car.

Such was the case for entrepreneur Aaron Rylan Keder, 35, who earlier this year bought a used Lamborghini Aventador Superveloce, a limited edition supercar, which he paid in excess of S$1 million for.

He said that when one goes for a business meeting, chances are the other party would have already done a background check on the person.

“With me buying or owning a supercar, it gives a sense of trust, sense of accomplishment to this individual, way before he meets me in person,” said Mr Aaron, who has businesses in finance advisory, renovation and property facilities management.

He said that owning certain cars also gives one membership to some enthusiast groups and exclusive clubs, which provides invaluable business networking opportunities.

Mr Chan from Sgcarmart noted that the luxury car segment has seen “the most notable growth” over the last 10 years.

“This is especially true in this current high-COE climate. The luxury segment is typically less price-sensitive when it comes to COE changes,” he added.

Assoc Prof Theseira said that the aspirational factor behind wanting to own cars has remained important to some buyers.

“The fact is that luxury car brands in Singapore continue to do well, even though today, mass market brands often have similar levels of safety, equipment, quality, and features,” he said.

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