Viewed : 20,212 times

A closer look at LTA statistics reveals some interesting trends about how the automotive industry has shifted in the past 10 years.

30 Jan 2023

We are all prisoners of the moment. That's true for all things, including cars. Our current moment is dominated by conversations around EVs, spearheaded by the hype that Tesla has garnered.

And in this moment, being in the car trade is pretty miserable. 2022 proved to be an extremely tough year for car sales - across the board, new car registrations fell 32% compared to 2021. The overall numbers are comparable (though slightly better) to 2012-2014.

Statistics from the past 11 years shows us some interesting trends about Singapore's car market
But it might be useful to zoom out and take a broader look at how the car industry has changed in Singapore over the past 10 years. LTA's new car registration stats (spanning the past 11 years) may reveal some interesting trends.

There are a couple of notable things just looking at the overall numbers, and thus a few key years to highlight. 2015 saw an explosion in new car registrations (driven by PHVs and relatively low COE premiums). And while the numbers have started to come down, even 2022's total numbers still exceed pre-2015 levels.

Now, let's dig into the numbers.

1. Growth of luxury

Luxury brands like Ferrari have witnessed consistent growth over the past decade
While overall car sales have gone down in 2022, three brands have in fact netted record sales for the past decade - Ferrari, Porsche and Rolls-Royce. These brands, arguably the most recognised and loved upper-tier brands, have witnessed year on year growth fairly consistently over recent years.

The through line? Luxury, of course.

And this holds true across most luxury brands. McLaren has had a solid few years, selling an average of 21 cars per year in the past five years. Lamborghini had a slow-ish 2022, but again averaged 42 cars per year in the past five years, more than double compared to the preceding half decade. The same story is true for Aston Martin and Bentley as well.

Luxury brands tend to be less impacted by COE fluctuations
Is the market becoming more affluent? That is perhaps one reason, and a reason that should shock absolutely nobody. The other, of course, is to do with COE trends. From 2015 to 2017, where COE was relatively low, mass market models saw astounding numbers (coupled with the rise of private hire vehicles). In those years, luxury brand figures tend to dip. The inverse is, of course, also true. In years of high COE, luxury brands (whose buyers tend to be less price-sensitive) have seen increased numbers.

2. The disrupters

In just two years, Tesla has managed to gain a strong foothold here in Singapore
The big disrupter, of course, is Tesla. In just two years, 1,799 Teslas were registered in Singapore. For some perspective, that two-year figure puts Tesla ahead of traditionally popular brands such as Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Volvo, and just marginally behind Kia.

The other significant disrupter is BYD - the 786 cars registered in 2022 represents a 783% growth. With more models coming to market, expect BYD to continue to be a growing player in the local car scene. And while perhaps not quite as big a number, Polestar also moved a pretty good number of vehicles, a trend that may continue.

What ties these three brands together? EVs, of course.

3. Steady stalwarts

Stalwart brands like Toyota continue to hold steady
As you'd expect, a couple of brands have held steady, with fluctuations in registration numbers more or less in tandem with the overall market - Toyota, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and to a much lesser extent Audi and Mazda. Considering overall volume though, you could argue these brands also drive market trends.

Mercedes in particular is doing well, with strong growth since 2015. Even with numbers tapering out in the past couple of years, the 5,262 cars registered in 2022 is still better than the brand’s pre-2015 figures.

4. Upward swing

While still relatively small in volume, Citroen has managed to post multiple years of growth
There are a few brands that have in fact been on an upward swing. Citroen, Peugeot and Suzuki have all posted multiple years of growth in the past decade, though the relatively small overall volume makes for a limited sample size that allows for a fair amount of statistical variance.

Hyundai, too, has been generally trending upwards, buoyed by in influx of new models in recent years.  

The one surprise? Ssangyong - the brand's 129% growth in 2022 is in stark contrast to overall market contraction. As posited by our colleague, this may be due to the use of these cars for car-sharing services.

5. Caught in the middle

Post PHV explosion, Honda has been trending slightly downwards
And then there are brands that are on a downward trend.

Honda, since 2017, has been trending downwards (with an ever so slight bump in 2019). After the PHV explosion with Vezels flooding the roads in 2015 and 2016, Honda registration numbers have been heading south. However, it's worth noting that the recent figures still exceed pre-2015 figures.

The story is similar for Kia, Renault and Mitsubishi - a tough couple of years, but still better than the pre-2015 numbers.

There are four brands that appear to be struggling the most. Jaguar Land Rover is not faring well. Numbers are down even from pre-2015 figures. Volvo, too, is struggling.

VW is hoping that new models like the ID.4 can help spur renewed growth for the brand
The stark data point, though, is Volkswagen. With the exception of 2015, which saw a 21% year-on-year increase, the other years since 2013 have seen numbers heading south, culminating in a pretty dastardly 51% drop in 2022 (the largest in the past 11 years).

One reason for this struggle can be the lack of new models available in Singapore, especially as these brands transition to EVs. For example, VW's ID. 4 has been well-received globally, but is yet to be offered in Singapore through the authorised distributor. Moving forward, the onus will be on the availability of new models to help these brands regain momentum.

So what do all these numbers and trends tell us? Probably nothing we didn't already know. Buyers in the mass market segments are much more price sensitive, which sees these brands fluctuating along with market conditions.

The rise of EVs is certainly disrupting the market, which has allowed brands like BYD to gain quick traction
Luxury brands are more immune from market fluctuations, and we are also seeing a trend that the market is getting more affluent.

The brands that are struggling appear to be the ones stuck in the middle - between the mass market and premium brands.

Of course, these numbers are not the singular indication of consumer brand sentiment, and does not fully capture the complexity of the car market - a complicated intersection of model availability, economic conditions, and of course disruptions like COVID.

As more disruptions are on the horizon, driven by the rise of EVs, PHVs and changing market conditions, it will be interesting to see if any of these trends continue to hold steady.

On the note of automotive trends, here are a few other stories that may interest you!

A different 2022 list: Toyota still leading, as Porsche and BYD knock on Top 10's door

Is Singapore's Green Plan 2030 not quite what it seems? 

Just how much can you save driving an EV? We do the science to find out

Nameplates are getting lost and confused in EV-translation. So are we

You may also like

1-10 of 20    

Tags :  

car market  singapore car market  audi  bmw  mercedes  toyota  honda  kia  vw  hyundai  volvo  byd  tesla  polestar