THE first bidding exercise under the new certificate of entitlement (COE) quota resulted in the small and big car premiums softening, as most dealers reported slower sales over the past week.
But they said things could change after this weekend's TheCars@Expo new-vehicle sales event.
Category A, for cars below 1,600 cc and 130 hp, dipped S$1,300 - the exact amount it gained in the last tender two weeks ago - to S$56,001; Cat B, for cars above 1,600cc or 130 hp, fell S$2,388 to S$57,501.
But Cat E, the open category which has been tracking Cat B, climbed S$689 to S$60,689. So did Cat C, for goods vehicles, which rose S$1,506 to S$43,809.
On the other hand, Cat D, for motorcycles, slipped S$390 to S$5,912.
Some dealers in the prime Leng Kee motor belt said showroom traffic and orders have slowed down since the last bidding exercise two weeks ago.
The COE quota is slightly smaller than before. After four successive increases in COEs, the November 2015-to-January 2016 quota has 21,653 COEs, or 0.9 per cent fewer than the previous August-to-October 2015 quarter.
All five COE categories, except Cat C, are smaller. In particular, Cat A contracts 1.8 per cent to 3,313 COEs per month, while Cat B is 3.0 per cent smaller at 2,049 COEs per month.
Cat E fares better, with just two COEs fewer each month at 720 COEs.
Only Cat C gets more COEs, in this case, a 32.1 per cent increase to 481 COEs per month, thus making Wednesday's spike in premium unusual.
One commercial vehicle dealer explained that this could be due to the arrival of stocks of heavy goods vehicles because the light goods vehicle market remains "stable".
As for passenger cars, a dealer said many prospective buyers are holding back ahead of this weekend's TheCars@Expo.
This event organised by Singapore Press Holdings gathers car sellers - both authorised distributors and parallel importers - at the Singapore Expo, where there will be special offers in the form of lower interest rates, free servicing and immediate registrations.
The manager of a Japanese dealership said: "Most distributors will have aggressive promotions because they see the Expo as their last chance this year to grab orders and meet their sales target."
Many buyers are thus expecting good deals this weekend.
He added: "You can be sure then that COE prices will increase after that."