China-made car costs 19 times more in Singapore than in America

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Cars in Singapore are sold up to 19 times more expensive than that in the United States. Ironically, Singaporeans are still more than happy to splurge on luxury brands such as Lamborghinis, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Just how much do they pay then?

Singapore boasts one of the highest car prices in the world. Take one of the cheapest cars on Earth, Chery, for instance – as listed on, the most basic QQ retails at close to S$87,000 with taxes. However, according to an American motoring online portal, the China-made hatch goes for a mere US$3,600 (approx S$4,530) in the United States, 19 times cheaper than that for sale on the sunny island. If the QQ, being one of the cheapest cars available is so expensive in Singapore, why are Singaporeans buying alternatives which are even more expensive?

The locals’ choice of rides
One would expect budget marques to score on sales chart with the high costs involved in vehicle ownership in Singapore. On the contrary, premium brands such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz are having a relatively easier time here compared to Japanese and China budget counterparts.

According to the Annual Vehicle Statistics 2011 by Land Transport Authority of Singapore (LTA), a substantial percentage of the 28,270 cars registered in 2011 are made up of premium continental brands. To put things into perspectives, four of the top-five biggest sellers on the chart are taken by continental brands. BMW takes the lead at 4,959 units, with Mercedes-Benz trailing at 4,166, and the only non-continental marque, Toyota, ranked third at 3,562. At 49 units, the sunny island even has more Lamborghinis registered last year than Chery, with mere 28 units sold. According to, a Lamborghini Gallardo cost upwards of $900,000. This is three times more than what it is going for in the United Kingdom!

Substantiating the choice of vehicles, a research by Forbes ranks Singapore third in the world’s richest country, with a GDP per capita of $56,694 (2009). The country also has the highest percentage of millionaire households, a likely cause of the highly affluent public, which is seemingly one of the key factors in the choice of cars.

Taxation the main cause of tall prices
In order to control the volume of cars on the road, hefty taxes are imposed on every passenger car that is brought onto the local shores. For instance, excise duty and registration fee are rated at 128.40% of the estimated value of the imported vehicle. Moreover, a Certificate of Entitlement (COE), via a bi-monthly bidding exercise, needs to be obtained before the car is legalised for road use. The current COE prices stand at close to S$58,000 for small cars (with engine capacity up to 1.6-litre) and S$$78,200 for cars beyond 1.6-litre.

About is Singapore’s Number 1 car site. With more than 10,000 car listings, it offers the largest database of new and used cars for sale in Singapore. attracts more than 2 million visitors every month and as a testament to its popularity, it has been awarded the Most Popular Automotive Site in its category for six years running by Hitwise. Attaining the Successful Entrepreneur Award 2011, Singapore Prestige Brand Award 2010 and the Spirit of Enterprise 2008 serve as recognition to’s reputation as a well established Singapore brand.

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Julian Kho
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