COE Analysis: Just how low can prices go?

March-April 2020: The COVID situation has put Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices into freefall in Singapore, but how low will they go?

We now look fondly back at the time when the worst thing in car buying here, beginning with ‘CO’, was ‘COE’.

As covered in our previous COE analysis story which looked at the period end-February and early March, the COVID situation certainly has put a dent on COE prices

The arithmetic was simple: Nobody in showrooms, nobody buying cars, no COE demand, lower prices. 

But then, like everyone else, we saw the infection figures for Singapore, and it looked like everything was A-OK and under control – as a result the Category A COE price even took a small hike in February. 

Analysis: How global factory shutdowns could affect Singaporean carbuyers

Then the virus really hit its stride in the Western hemisphere, as you’ve read in our leading news story about possible delays Singaporean car buyers might face. Then it started doubling back to Asia, and the government introduced stricter measures over the tail-end of March. 

From S$32,999 in February’s second round, the COE now sits at S$31,210 in March’s second round, for Category A (the so-called mainstream category, for cars with engines of less than 1.6-litre in capacity, and with less than 130hp). 

Over the same period Category B (for cars that don’t fit into Cat A, basically perceived as premium/luxury) went from S$32,889 down to S$30,012. 

Again, the reasoning here is simple: With the government encouraging even more social distancing rules and less going-out in general, car sales have tanked. 

But as we know, the COE system is a bit like the stock market – it’s all about looking forward. The corollary to this is: Could COEs reach S$25k levels, or even less?

From our anonymous, impromptu poll of sales managers that CarBuyer canvassed the responses ranged from ‘Definitely yes’, ‘I don’t see why not’, ‘It will surely drop, we just don’t know if it will reach those levels’. 

One manager did say, that in the short term, the March-April period will see two weeks without COE bidding, which could mean slightly higher prices in April’s first round. After that though, all bets are off.

The reasoning here is again quite clear: If the COVID situation continues, then further measures will be put in place, and restrict car buying even more. 

Our guess is, that COE prices (they’re now basically all at the same level, another interesting point we covered before) will likely hover around S$25k-S$30k until the situation improves. The COE system being reactive, a drop below S$25k will see people (virtually) bum-rush showrooms, driving demand and prices back up again. 

Needless to say, while the attraction of low COE prices is considerable, please be careful, don’t go out unless you really need to, and wash your hands. 

Disclaimer: The editorial team at always wants readers to be well-informed, and envision them as smart individuals capable of making proper decisions. That obviously does not cover everyone, especially those on social media who do not actually read the content, or worse, comment without reading the content.

While we are saying that COE prices could go down, and the implication is you could save some cash by buying a car soon, we will now state the obvious: We are giving you information to better facilitate your decision making, and not telling you to rush out and buy a car right this instant. Please put your health and safety, and more importantly, the health and safety of others first and foremost, and follow MOH guidelines to lessen the spread of COVID.

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong