In Singapore, Owning a Car Costs $106K— Before You Buy It

Cost of certificate is putting the 'Singaporean Dream' out of reach
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2023 5:10 PM CDT
Updated Oct 8, 2023 11:25 AM CDT
The Right to Own a Car Now Costs $106K in Singapore
Traffic in central Singapore.   (Getty Images/avery ng)

Singapore is the world's most expensive place to own a car—and the biggest cost involved has more than quadrupled in recent years. Under a quota system introduced in 1990 to cut traffic congestion, the city-state sells 10-year "certificates of entitlement" allowing the holder to own a car, the BBC reports. The certificates are sold under a bidding process. Certificate prices dipped during the pandemic, but they have now soared to $106,000 for a large family car. It's around $76,000 for a COE for a small car—still well over the average annual income—and $112,000 for an "open" certificate valid for any vehicle.

Including the cost of the certificate and other fees, a new Toyota Camry Hybrid costs $183,000 in Singapore, enough to buy four of the same vehicle in the US, or two small government-subsidized apartments in Singapore, reports Reuters. The small country, with a population of 5.6 million in an area smaller than New York City, has capped the number of private cars at 950,000. New COEs are issued as old cars are taken off the road.

The cost of a certificate dipped sharply during the pandemic, but it is rising sharply as Singapore's economy recovered. Sociologist Tan Ern Ser says the cost is putting the "Singaporean dream" of having "cash, a condominium, and a car" out of reach for many middle-class families, per Reuters. (More Singapore stories.)

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