Dear LTA: Why Are Your COE System “Refinements” Such a Joke?


First of all, I’d like to thank you for doing such a fine job of making it nearly impossible to buy a car. It’s a dirty job, keeping the “great unwashed” masses from owning a car, but someone has to do it right?

I love the way you rationalize the high cost of motor vehicles by saying to Singaporeans, “Look you imbeciles; I’m doing it for the benefit of all Singaporeans! A car isn’t as necessary to life as a home, healthcare, or an education you know,” right before you drive off in your brand new 2014 BMW 5 Series GT.

But you’re right. Despite the fact that some Singaporeans really need a car in their daily lives to transport their kids to school and go to work because they live in non-mature estates, or need to take an ageing relative to his regular medical appointments – a car really isn’t for everyone… who can’t afford it.

Look, I’m sorry for giving you a hard time. I know you’re trying to make things right with Singaporeans with the new COE system refinements that just went into effect this February. You’ve shuffled some of the pricier “sporty” cars from Cat A to Cat B in an effort to create some “social equity” in the COE system.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Your COE refinements actually didn’t have much of an effect, as COE prices went up throughout ALL Categories. In fact, there’s only a $1,000 difference between Cat A and Cat B cars right now. Think about it – a $1,000 price difference between the COE price of a Suzuki Swift and an Audi A6!

OK, I think I’ve seen enough of your new COE “refinements” to know that it facilitates “social equity” about as effectively as a police baton to the back of the head.

What I really want to know from you, LTA, are answers to the following three questions with regards to your latest COE system refinements:

1. Why can’t you just move all ”premium” vehicle models in Cat A to Cat B?

In your latest COE refinements, you changed the criteria used to classify Cat A and Cat B vehicles. Currently, Cat A vehicles must have engine capacities 1,600cc and below, but you added that they must also have engine power not exceeding 97 kilowatts (kW), or about 130 brake horse power (bhp).

That’s great! Cars like the Lotus ELISE and the Mazda RX8 don’t need to be in Cat A. But why are cars like the Mini Cooper, Subaru Impreza, Audi A3, Volvo S60, and Volkswagen Passat still in Cat A?

Why can’t you just move every vehicle in Cat A that’s made by a “premium” car manufacturer to Cat B?


2. How will COE certificates be allocated once a formerly Cat A (now in Cat B) vehicle is deregistered?

This is actually a much easier question for you to answer. When a formerly Cat A vehicle (now in Cat B) gets deregistered, where does that COE get allocated to? Does it go to back to Cat A, or stay in Cat B?

OK, so maybe it’s not such an easy question for you to answer, since it’s starting to sound more like a “does a falling tree make a sound if no one hears it” philosophical “thought” question.

Don’t let yourself get confused, it’s just a simple question – does the COE get allocated to Cat A or Cat B?

Don’t worry – even saying you’ll flip a coin to determine where it goes is still an answer as far as I’m concerned.

3. Will the increase in the volume of car models in Cat B equate to an increase in the allocation of certificates?

Here’s the easiest question. Now that the number of vehicle models in Cat B has grown, does that mean you’ll increase the number of COE certificates being allocated for Cat B?

Or will the increase of vehicle models in Cat B have no effect on the number of certificates allocated?

I think this question is especially important for anyone interested in buying a Cat B car, because no increase in the number of certificates being allocated for Cat B means one thing – a larger demand leading to even higher Cat B COE prices.

These are just some questions I’ve been wondering about lately. Hopefully, you can indulge me with answers soon. Of course, I wouldn’t expect any as I know you’re pretty busy doing the “people’s” work.

Look, I know you just want to take a “let other people handle it” approach when it comes to social fairness. I get it. But you really CAN do more if you… *sigh* I’m running out of eloquent things to say so I’ll just use a line from Spartacus, “pull head from ass, and use it for once.”

And answering these important questions is a good start.

Yours sincerely,

A Messenger of Singaporean Frustrations

What do you think of the LTA’s latest COE category changes? Do you have any clue as to how things may change with the new refinements? We’d love to discuss them with you here!

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