Car ownership in Singapore doesn’t come cheap. Buyers face several high car costs that make owning a car in Singapore relatively expensive when compared to other countries. That said, as of 2021 there are more than 830,000 Singapore registered vehicles on our roads – and thanks to car loans and other financial products, car ownership is still a very achievable dream.
Between road tax, registration fee, car costs, services tax, COE prices, maintenance costs, and other ongoing costs there’s a lot more for car owners to think about than just the initial purchase price of their vehicle.
In this article, Instant Loan will break down the total cost of owning a car in Singapore and explore all the factors that affect a car’s purchase price – as well as car insurance, regular major servicing cost and any other costs or recurring cost you might have overlooked. Find out the cheapest car in Singapore for under $100,000.
Average Purchase Price for Car Owners in Singapore
So, what is the average initial purchase price for a car in Singapore? Naturally, that all depends on the type of vehicle you are buying, with luxury car and electric car models demanding higher premiums than a basic sedan, for example.
As a general guide, we’ll look at a typical car that’s very popular in Singapore right now – a new Toyota Corolla Altis. At the time of writing, a Toyota Corolla Altis with a 1.6L engine capacity costs between $100,000 and $110,000 depending on trim level and specification.
Let’s assume you settle on a mid-range model with an initial purchase price of $105,000. Under these circumstances, you will also need to pay the following estimated costs:
- Car insurance cost – $1,500 per year (potentially more for young drivers)
- Major servicing cost and maintenance costs (annually) – $650
- Singapore registered vehicles road tax cost – $750
- Annual petrol cost – $2,434
Example Purchase Price Comparison of Top Singapore Car Brands
As we have seen with our new Toyota Corolla Altis estimates, buying and running a car in Singapore doesn’t come cheap – but can certainly prove affordable with the aid of a car loan or personal loans.
Generally speaking, Asian car brands and models, like the Toyota Altis, or a Hyundai or Kia, are usually the most popular type of car in Singapore. Let’s look at how a few other popular models, including electric car and luxury car brands, compare when it comes to total purchase price:
|Car Brand / Model |
|Total Purchase Price / Open Market Value |
|Honda Jazz 1.3 (A) |
|Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GLS (A) |
|Honda City 1.5 V (A) |
|Kia Cerato 1.6 EX (A) |
|Honda Civic 1.6 |
|Toyota Corolla Altis 1.6 |
|Toyota Camry 2.0 (A) |
|Mercedes-Benz A Class |
|Audi A4 2.0 TFSI S-Tronic (A) |
|BMW 5 Series 520i SE (A) |
|Tesla Model 3 Sedan (Electric) |
Clearly, car prices can vary considerably across different brands and model types. The open market value OMV of a vehicle will usually be dependent on several factors, including:
- The brand, model and trim (i.e., whether it is a luxury car model)
- Whether you are buying a new car or used car
- The car’s engine capacity
- Any sales tax or excise duty added
Car Owners Cost Breakdown – Car Insurance, Additional Registration Fee and More
As we’ve already mentioned, there’s a lot more to owning a car than simply paying a car’s purchase price and getting your keys. So, let’s review the costs involved in car ownership from another perspective – i.e., the average cost of owning your vehicle over a period of time. Here are the key maintenance cost categories you’ll need to be aware of:
1. Car Loan Interest
If you intend to fuel your car purchase using a car loan, you’ll need to make sure you can fully account for the interest charges that apply to your loan. Most moneylenders in Singapore will allow you to take out a car loan covering 60-70% of your car’s purchase price and with a maximum loan tenure of up to seven years. But don’t forget that you’ll usually need to put down a deposit equating to 30% of your car’s purchase price at the point of sale.
You can use Instant Loan to determine what kind of car loan or personal loans you may be eligible for, and how much car loan interest you will be expected to pay over the course of your desired loan tenure.
2. Car Insurance
Car insurance costs can vary depending on several factors, including the type of vehicle, engine size, your age and driving experience and whether any secondary or additional drivers need to be covered. As we’ve already estimated, you can expect to pay around $1,500 in annual insurance premiums for a new Toyota Corolla Altis 1.6 – which is a pretty reasonable car insurance cost.
3. License Plate Number
Every car on Singaporean roads needs to have a valid license plate number. When you come to register a new vehicle, your car will be automatically assigned a license plate number.
However, it’s entirely possible to either retain an existing license plate number from a previous car or pay a little extra to have a personalized or specific license plate number added to your new vehicle. That said, the average cost of a personalized license plate number can range anywhere from $1,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars – so watch out for this!
4. In Vehicle Unit IU
Installing an In Vehicle Unit to your car is something often overlooked by people pricing up the cost of owning a car in Singapore – but having this simple device is very important.
Your car will need an In Vehicle Unit to pay for ERP Charges and parking costs all across the city-state. On average, you can expect to pay $155.80 for In Vehicle Unit installation.
5. Open Market Value
Every car has an open market value or “OMV”. The open market value OMV is essentially the forecourt selling price of your car, which can be calculated by deducting any fees and surcharges from the total purchase price.
6. Registration Fee
If you’re buying a brand new car, you’ll also need to pay a new car registration fee when you purchase your vehicle. Registration fees right now sit at $220 per vehicle. There’s also an Additional Registration Fee to think about – but more on this later.
7. Excise Duty
At the time of writing, any vehicles imported into Singapore will attract excise duty at a rate of 20% of the car’s open market value price.
8. Goods and Services Tax (GST)
All goods and services sold in Singapore attract GST, but the good news is that GST is only charged on the open market value and excise duty cost of your car.
9. Certificate of Entitlement COE
Singapore’s Certificate of Entitlement COE is an essential license you will need for car ownership in Singapore. A Certificate of Entitlement enables you to own your car for up to 10 years – but COE prices vary depending on which COE category your car falls into.
Our Toyota Altis 1.6, for example, would fall under Category A, which covers vehicles with an engine capacity of 1,600cc or less and 130bhp or 97kW of power. Category A costs around $50,000, but a Category B car above 1,600cc or a Category C heavy goods vehicle or bus could attract much higher COE prices – so be careful.
10. Vehicular Emissions Scheme VES
In recent years, Singapore has introduced a Vehicular Emissions Scheme VES in a bid to encourage locals to purchase low-polluting, environmentally friendly car models.
If your car does not generate undue levels of carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxides and particulate matter, you could qualify for a $10,000 to $20,000 rebate. Conversely, higher-polluting vehicles will incur a surcharge of anywhere up to $20,000. Category A cars with a smaller engine capacity – as well as electric car models – are usually the most environmentally friendly. The table below runs through the different category types for COE and VES purposes:
|Category A |
|Engine size up to 1,600cc or less (130bhp / 97kW or less) |
|Category B |
|Engine size above 1,600cc (130bhp / 97kW) |
|Category C |
|Heavy goods vehicles and buses|
|Category D |
|Category E |
|Open – all except motorcycles|
11. Dealer’s Package
It’s not uncommon for car dealers to inflate the purchase price of their vehicles slightly to cover their markup. With most vehicles, the markup will be around 10%, meaning you can expect to pay around $115,000 for a Toyota Altis with an actual value of $105,000. However, it’s worth noting that premium brands and models can sometimes attract a markup of up to 50%
Maintenance and Running Costs – Car Insurance and More
It’s important to remember that everyday expenses will also be incurred in the daily use and periodic upkeep of your car. Such expenses range from maintenance costs and major servicing cost, to petrol costs, having to pay road tax and other costs. The table below breaks down the average monthly and annual running costs you might expect with our example Toyota:
|Expense Type |
|Average Cost Monthly||Average Cost Annually|
|Maintenance / Servicing Cost |
|Petrol Costs |
|ERP Costs |
|Annual Insurance Premiums / Car Insurance Costs |
|Road Tax Cost||N/A |
|HDB Season Parking Costs |
|Total Cost |
Hidden Costs – Additional Registration Fee and More
Additional car ownership costs, such a speeding tickets, illegal parking fines and other costs might not be immediately obvious. That said, it’s still important to be aware of:
1. The Additional Registration Fee ARF
On top of standard registration fees, you’ll be expected to shell out for an Additional Registration Fee ARF, too. These are a little more complicated, as your Additional Registration Fee ARF can vary depending on the open market value of your car.
A cumulative Additional Registration Fee ARF of between 100 to 180% is charged once a car passes a certain OMV threshold. The first $20,000 of a car’s purchase price will attract a vehicle ARF rate of 100%, while the next $20,001 to $30,000 will attract a 140% ARF, and vehicles costing more than $50,000 will incur the top 180% tier. It’s important to look at cheaper vehicles, such as a Honda Jazz, for example, if you wish to incur a preferential Additional Registration Fee cost and bring down your overall expenses.
|Car’s Open Market Value Price||Vehicle OMV ARF Rate Incurred (As a Percentage of OMV) |
|First $20,000 |
|Next $30,000 ($20,001 to $50,000) |
|$50,000 or Above |
2. Speeding and Illegal Parking Fees
Driving offenses may incur unforeseen costs in the form of fines, which can usually range anywhere from $100 to $500 depending on the severity of the offense committed. It’s also worth noting that you may incur demerit points each time an offense is logged, whether that be a failure to pay road tolls or a parking fine.
3. Depreciation, Road Tax and PARF Rebate
No car will keep its initial purchase price value forever. In most cases, Singaporeans will keep a car for approximately 10 years and in that time the value of the vehicle will depreciate significantly – though rates of depreciation are much lower among luxury vehicles.
Keeping your car for longer than the standard 10-year period could see you face increased road tax costs. Conversely, surrendering it before it’s too late could see you deemed eligible for a PARF rebate on your original ARF. This PARF rebate could range anywhere from 50 to 75% of the original ARF paid, assuming your vehicle is between five and ten years old.
Average Annual Cost for Car Owners – Including Purchase Price and Other Costs
Let’s take a quick glance at what new Toyota Corolla Altis buyers can expect to pay overall:
|Average Cost Annually |
|Monthly Car Loan Instalments (Annually) |
|Maintenance Cost on Average |
|ARF Rebate After Year 9 |
But let’s not overlook the one-time costs ahead of the first year of car ownership, too:
|Typical One-Time Costs |
|Car Deposit (30% of Purchase Price) |
|License Plate / Registration Number |
|In Vehicle Unit |
Alternatives for Car Owners in Singapore – Used Cars, Leasing and Car Sharing
1. Buying a Used Car
Opting to buy a used car as opposed to a brand new one will always work out cheaper when it comes to purchase price – but you might need to earmark some extra cash for servicing and other expenses. Older vehicles could turn out to be unreliable and you mustn’t forget to account for depreciation.
2. Car Leasing
You can potentially lease a Toyota Altis for $70 per day, or $1,500 per day for a longer-term lease of one year or more. That said, the monthly installment cost of buying a brand new car to own for yourself could work out comparable or cheaper – so be sure to weigh up all your options.
3. Car Sharing
Car sharing can enable you to rent cars from all across Singapore for short-term use. This can be super-convenient for people who want to use a car occasionally but avoid the expensive ownership costs of running their own. That said, while companies like Tribecar will let you rent a car from $2.14 per hour, monthly costs for longer term rentals can prove much more expensive – and sometimes membership fees and other hidden charges are required.
Final Thoughts – How Much Do Car Owners Need to Spend in Singapore?
So, the total purchase price of buying a vehicle is made up of the initial down payment, car loan interest, COE prices, CC road tax and several other costs – meaning buyers need to consider all aspects of the cost of having a car in Singapore on top of the actual vehicle’s total purchase cost. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:
- You’ll need put down an initial 30% down payment when you purchase your car – but may be able to offset this with a car loan, as well as a VEF scheme or PARF rebate later down the line
- Purchasing a Category A car of up to 1,600cc or less can help you to save money on car insurance, road tax and other typical car ownership costs
- Using a loan comparison service to compare car loans can help you get a better deal on financial products to fuel your car purchase and overall car running costs
Need a loan? Instant Loan offers a tried-and-tested loan comparison service that enables you to retrieve and compare loans at the click of a button. Simply fill in our quick and easy form today!