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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Top 10 parallel import car models in S'pore

Sulaiman Kamal | 11:33 PM | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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BMW and Mercedes-Benz parallel imports (PIs) raced ahead of the field in 2011 even as the grey market skidded to its lowest level in a decade.

Last year, parallel importers sold a combined 2,346 units or just 8.3 per cent of the total 28,270 new cars registered in Singapore.

Compared with 2010, the fall in last year's PI sales was 48.2 per cent - greater than the 32.7 per cent drop in 2011's total new car registrations.

With the quota for certificates of entitlement (COEs) contracting, the PI industry has also been hit by shrinking sales.

And like in the authorised world, when COE premiums rise because of the tighter supply, premium brands gain in popularity.

Mirroring the situation for official imports, BMW was the most popular PI brand, with 668 cars sold collectively in 2011.

The PI runner-up was another German luxury brand, Mercedes-Benz, with 451 units.

Toyota, which is Japan's top carmaker and once the traditional best-selling marque in both the official and grey markets here, had to settle for third place - the first time since data was made available nine years ago.

In 2011, Toyota PIs garnered only 435 units.

Other previously popular PI makes such as Honda and Nissan have also waned in recent years as they face the double whammy of a strong Japanese yen and high COE premiums.

Honda PIs (171 units) were sandwiched between two other German luxury marques - Audi (205) and Porsche (111), while mass market brand Volkswagen's 62 PI units trumped Nissan's 27.

The 2011 tally represents the lowest point in a decade for the PI trade. The PI industry peaked in 2008 when a total of 23,142 grey imports were registered in Singapore, or 23.8 per cent of the total 97,348 new cars registered that year.

Even though total new car registrations had hit an all-time high in 2006 with 117,062 new cars, 2007 and 2008 were the boom years for parallel importers because of the low Japanese yen and low COE premiums.

Both these factors, together with the occasional under-declaration of OMV or open market value, allowed some parallel importers to offer lower than usual car prices, thus resulting in brisk business for them.

As the yen started climbing and as PI high jinks faced a crackdown, PI sales began falling sharply from 2009 onwards. Together with the shrinking COE quota, it has led to the current slump in the industry.

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