What’s equally clear is that Singapore’s appetite for upper-crust German motoring is strong even outside the Mercedes-Benz galaxy. The brand’s key rivals, Audi and BMW, both climbed the top 10 ranking, with BMW in fourth by gaining one spot, and Audi gaining an impressive three places. Both brands saw solid increases in market share, BMW going from 7.4 percent to 9.8 percent, and Audi from 3.4 percent to 5.0 percent.
Audi was buoyed by success of its second-generation Q3, a car we rated as one of the best in its class, and also of its new A4 sedan, despite the lack of a Category A model for the latter.
“2020 was a successful year for Audi in Singapore: (we were able to) outperform the overall market and increase our market share to become the sixth best-selling brand, the highest rank in our history in Singapore,” said Markus Schuster, Audi Singapore’s managing director.
BMW was helped to its position by new models on the less expensive end of the spectrum, including its first small four-door car, the 218i Gran Coupe (February 2020), an all-new 1 Series (introduced in Q4 2019) and the least expensive 3 Series, the 318i. BMW also said its high-performance M and M Performance models sold better than in 2019, with a 14 percent jump.
And here’s a second shocking fact: “Our greatest achievement in 2020 was having BMW recognised in Singapore as the second top-selling car brand, and the best-selling among premium brands,” said BMW Asia’s MD, Christopher Wehner, in a media release in mid-January 2020.
Obviously you’re wondering which chart BMW is looking at. In this case, it’s the “parallel-imports not counted” chart. With PI cars accounting for roughly 30 percent of Toyota volumes and a whopping 56.2 percent of Honda’s, and as much as 37.2 percent of Mercedes-Benz’s sales here, looking at the data for only official imports would put BMW as the second brand overall in terms of officially-imported cars. Parallel importers sold just 2.2 percent of the BMWs registered here.
Whether a PI car is more car for less money or a risky way to spend a big sum of money is a story for another time, but here’s another interesting fact: If you sum up parallel imports from the top five car brands as one pseudo-brand unto itself, it would be the best-selling car brand/type here in 2020.
High COE prices tend to make luxury brands pull ahead, while mainstream ones tend to suffer, particularly those running outside the top five. We reported in October 2020 that COE prices for Cat A were already, on average, S$10,000 more than in 2019, and COE prices almost reached S$50,000 for the first time in years.
Looking at Hyundai, Kia, and Mitsubishi, you can see that each brand sold at least 1,000 cars fewer (often far more) than in 2019, with Hyundai and Mitsubishi being the hardest hit: Both lost three places in the top 10, and more than a percentage point of market share apiece.
Of the mid-mainstream pack, Mazda, Nissan, and Volkswagen emerged in a better position. Mazda in particular saw a big turnaround, gaining two spots and rising from 4.3 percent to 5.5 percent market share, largely on the newfound strength of its Mazda 3 sedan which enjoyed a S$10,000 tax rebate thanks to its A2 rating in the Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES). Nissan was also a beneficiary of VES, with its Kicks E-Power hybrid small SUV propping up sales thanks to the same A2 edge over conventional SUVs.
More evidence of a COE-price-driven squeeze of the lower end of the market? Volkswagen, long perceived as a German “semi-luxury/premium” brand, didn’t have any major bread-and-butter model launches in 2020 besides the fourth-quarter debut of the T-Cross small SUV. But it saw its sales dip by just 15 percent, with its market share rising from 2.4 percent to 3.0 percent. You can see a similar trend with Mini, whose sales fell 17 percent from 453 to 377 while its market share climbed to 0.85 percent, from 0.63 percent.
Page 1: The Top 10 – the podium analysed
Page 2: The Top 10 – the other Germans, and mainstream brands
Page 3: The most popular car types in Singapore in 2020
Page 4: Why 2021 is the Year Of The Hybrid and more predictions