Chinese car brands hit bumps in Singapore

Updated: 2011-08-12 13:45


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Chinese car brands hit bumps in Singapore
A model poses next to the Dongfeng EJ02 during the opening day of the Shanghai Auto Show April 19, 2011.[Photo/Agencies] 

SINGAPORE-- Chinese car brands such as Geely, Dongfeng, Zotye, Soyat, Hafei and others have sold only zero to four cars each in the first six months in Singapore, local daily Straits Times reported on Friday.

The Chinese brands burst onto the scene three to five years ago but are now fast fizzling into oblivion because of the high prices for the certificates of entitlement. Buyers will have to get a certificate of entitlement (COE) through bidding exercises in order to own a car, but the limited number of supplies of the certificates are pushing up the prices recently.

The prices for such certificates now typically hovers between SGD$48,801 ($40,331) and SGD$70,890 ($58,587), about four times their values five years ago.

The higher COE prices made the Chinese brands, mostly budget cars, less affordable.

The cheapest Chery, the QQ, is now around SGD$68,000 ($56,198), up from less than SGD$30,000 ($24,793) four or five years ago.

The only Chinese brand that showed up in the Land Transport Authority's tally of new cars registered in the first half was Chery.

Chery arrived in Singapore in 2006. It registered 21 cars in the first half of this year, 66 percent fewer than the same period last year and a tiny fraction of the 637 units it delivered in 2007.

Observers said the outlook for the Chinese brands is far from rosy.

"Even for Chery, I think it will be a matter of time before they give up," an industry watcher said of Chery agent Vertex Automobile.

But vertex said it was here for the long term.

"We are not here for the short term. We will be staying," said Sng Khai Tze, general manager of Vertex.

Vertex expected COE supply to increase from around late 2013 and premiums to dip.

But Group Exclusive which holds the Geely, Dongfeng, Zotye and Soyat franchises, is cutting losses by putting up his flagship showroom in Kampong Uni for rent.

"I'm moving out," he said. "There is no point. Can't fight the wind."