COE premiums continue to rise, but the COE quota keeps shrinking, so it looks like new car prices can only go higher. For some, it's time to look to the used-car market. Those shopping in the COE Category B segment for cars above 1,600 cc have a number of popular choices. At Republic Auto, there are more than 200 pre-owned units for selection with makes, such as Audi, BMW, Jaquar, Volkswagen, Citroen, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Kia. But it is Mercedes-Benz, the brand with the three-pointed star, that is most plentiful at Republic Auto.
The company has the largest inventory of Mercs in Singapore because it is a subsidiary of Cycle & Carriage, the exclusive dealer of Mercedes-Benz.
"Mercedes-Benz is popular because the cars are renowned for their resale value," said a spokesman. "Their value, as compared to most brands, is very stable and does not depreciate as drastically."
He added that the German marque is known for its reliability and owners can be assured of its quality because of its engineering and technology.
When asked about what is a good age of used car to consider, the spokesman said: "It all depends on how the vehicles have been maintained."
The car's condition is important, and buyers should consider this "rather than just compare the prices offered by sellers".
"The cost of the car to be sold may include all the costs of the enhancements done to the car before it is put up for sale," he said.
Over at Yong Lee Seng Motor, managing director Raymond Tang said his company carries all brands of cars but specialises in Japanese makes, especially those of MPVs because "they are popular family cars".
Mr Tang said the biggest demand from his customers is for popular brands like Honda and Toyota.
"If they are on a budget, they will consider Nissan or Mitsubishi," he said.
"And after that, Hyundai and Kia."
He gets a good mix of people buying relatively new cars, like those two to three years old, as well as older cars of about eight or nine years of age.
"It usually depends on how much they feel comfortable spending on the vehicle," explained Mr Tang.
But to those opting for newer used cars, like those registered in 2010, 2011 and 2012, he has this advice for them: "Don't keep the car for too long, maybe for about two years," he said.
This is, he said, because of depreciation.
"The car will depreciate more after it is five years of age because older cars attract a smaller pool of potential buyers."