Owning a car in Singapore, one of the world’s most expensive countries, has always been something of a luxury. But costs have now soared to an all time high.
A 10-year Certificate of Entitlement – a license people in the wealthy city state must purchase before they are even allowed to buy a vehicle – now costs a record minimum of $76,000 (104,000 Singapore dollars), more than four times what it did in 2020, according to Land Transport Authority figures.
And that just buys the right to purchase a standard Category A car, with a small to medium-sized engine of 1,600cc or below.
Those who want something bigger or flashier – like an SUV – will have to fork out $106,630 (146,002 Singapore dollars) for the Category B license – up from $102,900 (140,889 Singapore dollars).
Then there are the costs of the vehicle itself to think about.
The quota system was introduced in 1990 to minimize traffic and reduce emissions in a space-starved city state that is home to 5.9 million but boasts an impressive public transport network.
It has put cars out of reach for the average resident of Singapore, where the median monthly household income in 2022 was $7,376 (10,099 Singapore dollars), according to the Department of Statistics.
Wong Hui Min, a mother of two, said she might need to rethink her reliance on her car despite using it mostly for her family.
“I run around a lot, sending my kids to and from school, also for other activities like swimming lessons and tuition. I need my car. Taking taxis or shared rides everywhere is just not convenient for me,” she said.
“A Singaporean family on average has to save up years just to buy a car to help with their needs,” Wong continued, adding, “I don’t know if I can afford to keep my car in the long run.”
For some, the announcement is just the latest financial blow.
Locals say living in Singapore, already ranked the world’s most costly city, has gotten extraordinarily expensive in recent years amid persistent inflation, rising costs of public housing and a slowing economy.
But supporters of the quota system say it has helped spare Singapore the sort of congestion that routinely snarls up other Southeast Asian capitals such as Bangkok, Jakarta and Hanoi.
Those who can’t afford a Certificate of Entitlement can also make use of Singapore’s extensive public transport system they point out.
Failing that, there is the option of getting a motorbike – permits for which are a relative snip at $7,930 (10,856 Singapore dollars).