CarBuyer Analysis: Singapore’s Top 10 Car Brands of 2018

Familiar faces in the top three, but one Korean brand has cracked the top five in a surprise move up Singapore’s car sales charts


The Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) 2018 registration figures for all of 2018 are finally published, and that means we can finally get a fix on who did best in terms of car sales last year.

The top two slots could only ever go to two brands – Honda and Toyota. This year, they’ve swapped places with Honda at the top and Toyota in second place.

Winds of Change

Honda led the pack in 2018 for Singapore

Both brands sold fewer cars here in 2018, with Honda taking number one spot by virtue of it maintaining its 2018 sales close to its 2017 levels.

“We are very pleased with our results and we are extremely happy that Honda is number one again.“ Mr Nicholas Wong, general manager Kah Motor (Honda), told CarBuyer.

It’s worth pointing out that the new car market was significantly smaller in 2018 than in 2017, going from 91,922 units registered in total to 80,281 units, or a 12.7 percent decrease.

The rest of the top five sees a rather larger shake up though: Mercedes-Benz has moved onto the podium, followed by Hyundai in fourth.

While the sky-high COEs of the 2010-2012 made for an era where BMW and Mercedes-Benz ruled the sales charts – and Porsche sold as many cars as Honda – Mercedes proves that its line-up of cars, and brand star power, still has great clout here in Singapore.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class returned in late 2018, click on the image to read our review of the facelifted model

It launched major models at the end of 2018 though – the C-Class facelift reviewed in this issue, and the A-Class hatchback – so its momentum might easily carry over to 2019, and consider than a new CLA four-door coupe is also on the way.

Kimchi Kick

The Hyundai Avante/Elantra was Singapore’s best-selling sedan in 2018. Click the pic to read our review of the facelift model

Hyundai is a surprise re-entry into the top five, coming in just under Mercedes, and leaping up from eighth position.

With 6,540 units registered, it almost equaled its decade-best of  6,639 units set in 2009, a 172 percent increase from 2017’s 3,804, and its ranking was helped by much closer competition in spots four to 10. It was one of the few brands in the top 10 to report a large sales percentage increase.

“We are very proud of 2018’s sales results, which are the result of having a great product lineup, as well as huge support from Hyundai Motor Company, and the hard work of the staff at Komoco Motors.” said Mr Teo Hock Seng, group managing director, Komoco Holdings.

While 2018 saw the debut of an all-new range of i30 (hatch, wagon, fastback) it was the humble Avante/Elantra sedan that helped its sales figures. Komoco Motors says it sold 4,549 units of the Elantra here in 2018, making that the best-selling sedan in Singapore – and note that this was the pre-facelift version, not the new one shown above.

The total figure also doesn’t include fleet sales (Komoco says it sold 7,277 units if those are included) nor does it include 200 units of the Kona EV that’ve just been bought by car-sharing app Grab.

Ranking Isn’t Everything

“…only Kia and Audi actually managed to improve their sales performance in 2018, by approximately two and 13 percent respectively.”

Unlike education (/s), ranking isn’t the entire story when it comes to car sales.

2017’s third place brand Mazda drops two spots to fifth place, though it also came off a decade-high – 2017 was its best year in Singapore ever.

2018’s results were partially a result of supply disruptions in Japan, severe flooding and minor natural disasters at Mazda’s Hiroshima HQ, said Michael Wee, managing director of authorised Mazda distributor, Trans Eurokars.

The current Mazda 3: Totally sold out in Singapore

The good news is, locally there is no longer any stock of the current Mazda 3 model, paving the way for the all-new version coming this year.

As we reported from the Singapore Motorshow recently, the new Mazda 3 looks set to impress with a new platform, new engine and more – you can hit up to check out our our walkthrough video of it when it was previewed at Suntec in early January, and find out how Mazda intends to give it an additional edge with some killer design work.

Watch our walkaround video of the all-new Mazda 3 from the Singapore Motorshow above. 

BMW, Nissan, and Kia – at sixth to eighth spot – all preserved their relative rankings while being pushed down one spot because of Hyundai’s resurgence.  

“Other than the impact of a drop in total industry volume, our sales was affected by the VES bending re-classification of our best-seller, the Qashqai 1.2, but it remained as Nissan’s best-selling car in 2018, appealing to consumers in the SUV segment,” said Mr Ron Lim General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Tan Chong Motor (Nissan).  

The Qashqai SUV remained a strong seller for Nissan

BMW’s sales actually didn’t fall much and its case was similar to Mitsubishi’s  – both brands had sales dips of less than 10 percent, and in fact, the sixth to tenth spot (and 11th, if you count Audi) rankings all remained static in relation to each other in 2018.

Looking closer, only Kia and Audi actually managed to improve their sales performance in 2018, by approximately two and 13 percent respectively.

Of the 3,923 cars Kia sold, the vast majority – or 2,889 – were sedans, and we can safely assume most of them were the new Kia Cerato sedan. Kia was also a surprise in the diesel department – 909 of its cars sold were diesels, with 582 Kia Carens MPV diesels and 327 Sorento diesel SUVs – a result of good VES scores.

What about 2019? Read our complete list of new cars launching in Singapore this year to find out what’s coming and what’s worth your car buying dollar and time.

about the author

Derryn Wong
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.