Singapore needs to move away from its broken system of COE

Robin Low
6 min readMay 5

It is clear that motorcycle dealerships have been overbidding COEs and driving up the price of motorcycles.

In Singapore, with a $12,000 COE, a small motorcycle can easily cost $18,000 making costs for delivery and business high. For the families who cannot afford cars, this makes things worse especially when the motorcycle is needed for commute to work.

The COE system is simply flawed. With a small amount of COEs available, motorcycle dealerships can bid up all the COEs and control the pricing. The fact that they do not need to pay the full COE amount and just a small amount for tCOE makes it really broken for years.

A high COE benefit the dealerships as even the buyers for the smallest motorcycles need to take loans. These loans range from 4% to 10% or more for used bikes and come with a lot of clauses to prevent early termination.

With hit COE, the new bike costs are high, and it also drives up the cost for USED bikes and guess what, the dealerships win again.

For LTA, doing nothing was a solution they have always been good at. Watching the COE prices climb from $100 to $1,000, then $2,000 and later to $4,000, it seemed like a simple way for the government to make more revenue, and it is not like the government is not collecting enough tax.

After 2020, the COE shot up to $10,000 then $12,000 for months, and there was a lame attempt to reduce the COE as many businesses and livelihoods were affected, and the tCOE was shortened to 3 months and a cost of $800.

Now, because elections are coming around the corner, a coordinated attempt to reduce COE prices with:

  1. The introduction of an unsubstantiated scheme that forces people to scrap old bikes and give them $3,500 ends in April 2023.

This scheme again benefits motorcycle dealerships as there are a lot of cheap and worthless serviceable motorcycles that were going to the scrapyard, now worth at least $3,500 as the government is providing incentive to the bike shops to keep these non-running bikes off the roads.

Why does this scheme exist? With a high $5,000 COE, will anyone riding an old pollutive motorcycle renew COE and continue to pollute? We…

Robin Low

Author, Traveler, Innovator. Focuses on Social Impact and Innovation.