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As a likely result of unprecedentedly exorbitant COE premiums, less than 150 new cars were registered under the OPC scheme in the first seven months of 2022.

05 Sep 2022 | Local News : Singapore

Relegated solely to public holidays, weekends, and the 7pm to 7am window on weekdays, cars bearing red plates are already an uncommon sight on our roads. Still, new data suggests that they are likely to fade further into the background as COE premiums soar.  

As per a report by The Straits Times, January to July this year saw a meagre sum of just 140 cars being registered under the off-peak car (OPC) scheme. That number represents less than 1% of the new cars that were registered locally during the seven-month period. 

The appeal of the $17,000 upfront rebate has been greatly diminished as COE premiums soar
The rapidly decelerating take-up of OPCs can almost certainly be attributed to the unprecedented heights scaled by COE prices recently. To recap, an immediate rebate of up to $17,000 from the vehicle's COE and tax may be enjoyed under the OPC-scheme. Further savings take shape in the form of reduced road tax (up to $500 off) and lower insurance premiums. 

Wind the clock back to mid-2018, where premiums for Category A and B were hovering around $30,000, and $17,000 would have been quite an attractive figure; it represented close to 50% off the COE of a car. 

Expectedly, however, the appeal of this sum has been significantly diminished in the current climate where all categories are close to the six-figure mark. Whereas a red plate would have meant the difference between $80,000 and $100,000 previously, retail prices now are hard to swallow even with the rebate, considering that even 'bread-and-butter' cars are close to $150,000.

There are no plans to do away with the scheme, despite the steady decrease of its supporters 
In the face of such spikes, it appears that fewer Singaporean motorists are willing to exchange the 'cashback' for rather heavily restricted driving hours. 

As of July 2022, there were only 10,293 cars registered under the OPC scheme here. This figure pales greatly in comparison to the peak of the OPC-population in 2010, during which more than 50,000 cars had red plates (that marked the year during which the scheme was expanded to include full Saturdays, and eves of public holidays).

Despite the rapidly-dissipating appeal of the scheme, there are no plans in place to do away with it. Some fans still remain too; 61 owners converted their cars to take up red plates between January and July this year - although that number was once more far outstripped by the 787 cars that reverted to a normal registration.

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lta  coes  off-peak cars  opcs  red plate