Navigating the Financial Odyssey of Car Ownership in Singapore

In the dynamic urban tapestry of Singapore, the aspiration to possess a new automobile unfolds into a fiscal odyssey, challenging the resolve of even the most tenacious individuals. Beyond the opulent showrooms and alluring models lies a distinctive journey, involving not only the selection of a vehicle but also the intricate terrain of acquiring a Certificate of Entitlement (COE). This process, woven into the fabric of Singaporean car ownership since 1990, has recently experienced an unprecedented surge in costs, eliciting raised eyebrows and fiscal alarms.

The Enigma of Certificate of Entitlement (COE)

The COE, a pivotal juncture in the pursuit of car ownership, materializes as a competitive bidding process bestowing residents the privilege to drive a car for a decade. The intricacies lie in the classification of vehicles, each with a finite quota, and the recent escalation in COE costs has intensified the challenges.

Category A: The Struggle for Affordability

For those contemplating vehicles with an engine capacity of up to 1.6 liters or a power output of up to 130 hp, the entry point is Category A. However, affordability assumes a relative guise in Singapore. The prevailing COE cost for this category stands at a staggering S$104,000 or approximately ₹60 lakh, erecting a fiscal obstacle that scrutinizes the determination of prospective car owners.

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Beyond the Norm: Category B

For aficionados of larger vehicles, boasting engine capacities surpassing 1.6 liters or power outputs exceeding 130 hp, Category B beckons. Yet, the cost of asserting the right to own such cars has now reached an eye-watering S$146,002 or approximately ₹88 lakh. In a nation where the average annual income hovers around S$70,000 or ₹42 lakh, the financial strain is palpable.

The Economic Tightrope

Singaporeans find themselves treading an economic tightrope, balancing aspirations against fiscal realities. The juxtaposition of exorbitant COE costs and a limited number of quotas, typically in the lower hundreds for most categories, paints a vivid picture. The demand consistently outpaces supply, transforming COE acquisition into a fierce bidding war.

Unraveling the Trends

Reports suggest that while COE costs experienced a decline in 2020 due to a preference for mass-transit options, the ensuing years witnessed a resurgence in the demand for personal mobility, fueled by the uncertainties of the Covid era. This resurgence strained Singapore’s endeavors to maintain a restricted number of personal cars, posing a unique challenge to urban planners and policymakers.


In the ever-evolving panorama of Singaporean car ownership, the COE emerges as a pivotal chapter, with its recent cost surge adding a layer of complexity. As the nation grapples with the delicate balance between promoting public transport and accommodating the desire for personal cars, the financial landscape of owning a new vehicle remains a narrative of high stakes and fierce competition.

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