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Plunge in COE prices drives eager buyers into car showrooms

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The plunge in the certificate of entitlement (COE) prices at the tender on Thursday (May 23) lured prospective buyers to car showrooms over the weekend.

[SINGAPORE] The plunge in the certificate of entitlement (COE) prices at the tender on Thursday (May 23) lured prospective buyers to car showrooms over the weekend.

There were more than a dozen groups of customers viewing cars in the gallery an hour before closing time when the Straits Times visited the Hyundai and Toyota showrooms on Sunday (May 26).

Similar crowds were at the showrooms at C&C Mercedes-Benz Center and Honda agent Kah Motor.

Kah Motor general manager Nicholas Wong said more than a hundred people came by the showroom each day over the weekend.

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"I would say business has resumed to as before the sharp rise in the COE. Last weekend the whole market was like a ghost town," he added.

Mr Wong noted that car purchases are "expected to double" compared with the previous round of sales.

COE prices for the last three tenders before the most recent one on Thursday (May 23) had seen a steady increase, with the premiums for autos up to 1,600cc and 130bhp rising from $29,159 to $36,704.

Industry players said the higher COE premiums caused fresh sales to pretty much grind to a halt, which in turn led to the sizeable correction at Thursday's tender.

On Thursday, prices for cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp fell 26.4 per cent to $27,000.

Those for cars above 1,600cc and 130bhp slipped 11.3 per cent from $48,010 at the previous tender to $42,564.

The premium for Open COEs - used for any vehicle type except motorcycles - dipped by 10.5 per cent from $52,502 to $47,000.

Mr Charles Boey, 56, a client relationship manager, was at the showroom at C&C Mercedes-Benz Center with his son and daughter to compare prices.

"There are quite a lot of people here. It's not just the COE prices dropping. (The companies) are also offering discounts," he said.

"They have to (do that), in order to snatch the customers. Because the customers will compare across the different brands.

"I'll monitor the prices for one to two weeks before deciding."

Mr Boey was looking at the BMW X3 and MB C200.

Businessman Raymond Loo, 57, who bought a Lexus ES250 sedan, said he already had intentions to change his car before the reduction in COE prices but he had to delay the purchase as he had been travelling.

"It just so happened the COE prices actually plunged, that's why we came down," he added.

THE STRAITS TIMES