Singapore’s car ownership hurdle rises with a staggering $76,000 price tag

by Shura Guseva

Singapore, renowned for its affluence, has always deemed car ownership a luxury. However, current figures are redefining that luxury, with the price to merely gain the right to purchase a car escalating dramatically. Before diving into car dealerships, Singaporeans first need to secure a 10-year Certificate of Entitlement (COE). This prerequisite, according to the Land Transport Authority, now stands at an unprecedented $76,000 (104,000 Singapore dollars).

Singapore's car ownership hurdle rises with a staggering $76,000 price tag

Shockingly, this is over four times its cost just three years ago in 2020. This amount is solely for the privilege to buy a standard Category A vehicle with an engine size not exceeding 1,600cc. For those with desires beyond a standard car, wishing perhaps for a more spacious SUV, the price tag rises further. The Category B license, tailored for such vehicles, is pegged at $106,630 (146,002 Singapore dollars), a noticeable climb from its previous $102,900 (140,889 Singapore dollars). And let’s not forget, these amounts don’t cover the vehicle’s cost itself.

Introduced in 1990, this quota system had clear intentions: to curb traffic congestion and slash emissions in a city challenged by limited space. With a population of 5.9 million, Singapore’s emphasis on its efficient public transport network is evident. However, the system has inevitably distanced many average Singaporeans from the prospect of car ownership. In 2022, the median monthly household earnings stood at a mere $7,376 (10,099 Singapore dollars), as per the Department of Statistics.

This COE price surge is but a facet of the broader financial landscape. Residents decry Singapore’s escalating living costs, already crowned the priciest city globally. With incessant inflation, surging public housing costs, and a decelerating economy, many feel the financial pinch.

Proponents of the quota system commend its efficacy, highlighting Singapore’s relatively congestion-free streets compared to Southeast Asian counterparts like Bangkok, Jakarta, and Hanoi. Additionally, for those deterred by the high COE costs, Singapore’s robust public transport remains an alternative. And for those still craving personal transport, motorcycle permits offer a more affordable route at $7,930 (10,856 Singapore dollars).

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