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Vehicle population grows for first time since 2013

Published on: 11-Nov-2019

Despite a zero-growth cap on the vehicle quota system, new government figures show that the vehicle population in the Republic grew by 1.4 per cent in the first nine months of the year to 970,344.

The growth was largely on the back of a 2.1 per cent increase in the car population to 630,902, according to newly released statistics from the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

This was fuelled mainly by a spike in private-hire cars, which ballooned by 12.9 per cent to 75,079.

The vehicle population growth - the first since 2013 - stumped industry observers, as zero growth has been instituted in the vehicle quota system since February last year.

For more than 18 months, cer-tificates of entitlement (COEs) released for bidding had largely been based on the number of ve-hicles scrapped. Previously, small increases to the population were allowed.

An LTA spokesman said it may take some time for the effects of zero growth to be seen.

"The size of the vehicle population varies from quarter to quarter," she said.

"The actual number of vehicle deregistrations in the preceding quarter affects the number of COEs returned to the COE pool in the subsequent quarter."

She added that the number of vehicle registrations in each quarter can also vary because consumers have three to six months to utilise their secured COEs.

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"In view of this, full-year vehicle statistics would provide a more holistic picture for comparison of changes in the vehicle population," she noted.

But with the year coming to an end soon, experts reckon that 2019 will still close with a growth in the vehicle population.

Nanyang Business School Adjunct Associate Professor Zafar Momin said: "The car population may begin to see significant decreases when deregistrations start declining some time in 2020."

Prof Momin said the COE supply is determined mainly by the number of vehicles scrapped, and the latter has been fairly consistent in recent years. "Without knowing this context, the term 'zero growth' could set expectations that are high," he said, adding that the zero-growth policy will begin to have an impact on vehicle population "over the longer term".

Motor traders said the unexpected population growth could also be attributable to a lag between the time taxis are scrapped and when their COEs are returned to the bidding pool.

As taxi firms have up to six months to replace scrapped cabs, adjustment for COEs arising from deregistered taxis is calculated every six months - instead of the three months for other vehicles.

Singapore Vehicle Traders Association president Eddie Loo said the rollover of recycled taxi COEs could have contributed to the rise in the vehicle population.

"Registration (numbers) will fall in the last quarter," he added.

The taxi population shrank by 8.8 per cent to 18,772 in the first nine months of the year - its lowest figure in nearly 20 years.

Fuelled mainly by a spike in private-hire cars, Singapore's vehicle population grew by 1.4 per cent to 970,344 in the first nine months of this year - its first increase since 2013.

Source: The Straits Times, 11 November 2019

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