PREMIUMS for certificates of entitlement (COEs) stabilised on Wednesday, at the first bidding exercise of a new quota that will offer a substantial 41 per cent more COEs over the next three months.
All COE categories, except those for small cars, softened. Cat A, meant for cars below 1,600cc or 130 hp, rose S$988 to S$68,589.
But Cat B, for cars above 1,600cc or 130 hp, slipped S$401 to S$77,600; Cat E, the open category which currently tracks Cat B, fell S$1,496 to S$78,004.
Cat C, for goods vehicles and buses, continued to slide significantly for the second consecutive tender; it was down S$2,903 to S$50,098.
Meanwhile, Cat D for motorcycles shed S$289 from last fortnight's all-time high to S$6,512.
The expansion in the COE quota seems to have moderated premiums, which have been on the uptrend in the past couple of months.
Among passenger cars, the upward climb came from the rush to register new cars before July 1, when new rebates and surcharges will be levied under the tightened Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS). Among commercial vehicles and motorcycles, strong demand was impacting their quota size.
For the May-to-July 2015 quota, there will be a 44.6 per cent increase in Cat A COEs from the previous February-to-April quota.
Cat B will grow by 28.5 per cent, and Cat E, by 54.4 per cent.
Cat C will double with a 99.5 per cent jump; the Cat D quota will rise by 14.6 per cent.
Most dealers were unsurprised by the softer premiums, although some were taken aback by the increase in the Cat A premium.
Nicholas Wong, general manager of Kah Motor, the authorised Honda distributor, said: "The number of bids for Cat A was double the COEs available. When you have this kind of demand, how can the COE price go down?"
He said he believed the "main culprit" was the upcoming refinements to the CEVS.
"Because the criterion is based on the registration date and not the COE, you have to make sure your car is physically here before July 1, so there is this rush to register."
At Opel and Chevrolet dealer Alpine Motor, general manager George Lee said the premiums were "within expectations", though he was surprised by the "aggressive" bidding.
"We had hoped that premiums would ease a bit, by one or two thousand dollars. But I suppose that, given the backlog of orders and the fair amount of residual demand, they could not drop that much."
Analyse historical COE data with the Business Times' interactive tool at http://btd.sg/coetracker