• Cars and Coffee Singapore

COE tender surprises market

In a rare turn, premiums for Open COE - typically the highest at the end of each tender - finished lower than certificate of entitlement prices for cars, both big and small, yesterday.

Fuelled by aggressive bidding in the last minutes of the latest auction, COE prices for motorcycles also reached a new high.

COE prices for cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp closed 8.4 per cent higher at $40,000. Those for cars above 1,600cc or 130bhp finished 0.8 per cent lower at $42,322.

Premiums for Open COE, which can be used for any vehicle type except motorcycles, closed 9.3 per cent lower at $39,903. Open COE is usually the costliest because it is transferable and is stockpiled by dealers for urgent sales.

Commercial vehicle COE prices finished 1.8 per cent lower at $38,303. Motorcycle premiums climbed 5.6 per cent to hit a new high of $8,451 as speculators continue to hoard certificates.

Industry watchers said the launch of new popular models from Toyota and Hyundai in recent weeks may have contributed to the rise in COE prices for smaller cars.

But Mr Ron Lim, general manager of Nissan agent Tan Chong Motors, said the return of private-hire car operators could be a bigger reason.

"The results were not reflective of prevailing sentiment," he said, referring to the uncharacteristically soft demand for cars.

Usually, demand spikes after January's Singapore Motorshow and ahead of Chinese New Year this month. The subdued market is even more surprising considering yesterday's tender was the first with a cap on the car and bike population.

Mr Lim observed that up to 500 bids flooded in towards the end of the tender - a bidding pattern of private-hire players. The vast majority of these bidders go for small-car COEs.

Meanwhile, Singapore Motorcycle Trade Association honorary general secretary Norman Lee said he could not explain the record bike premium. "We were expecting it to drop," he said.

He would not say if speculators were hoarding certificates, but said: "The (transport) ministry says there is no speculative activity."

Source: Straits Times

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