Opinion

LTA Might Spoil the COE Market for Motorcyclists With THIS

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Jeff Cuellar

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If you read your news from Yahoo! Singapore, chances are you’ve already come across a very interesting article from CarBuyer Singapore regarding the Renault Twizy. It’s a four-wheeled vehicle that looks and drives like a car, but is classified as a quadracycle. It’s also a vehicle that people who are thinking of buying a motorcycle in Singapore should fear.

True, Renault’s car quadracycle doesn’t look very scary, but then again, empires thought Genghis Khan wasn’t very scary either – and we all know how that turned out. No, the real scare comes from how the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will classify this new vehicle.

If you are thinking about buying a motorcycle, you’ll probably want to pray that LTA doesn’t move the Renault Twizy to Certificate of Entitlement (COE) Category D. Because if it does, you’re in for some serious financial pain come COE bidding time.

 

It’s Not a Bike, Not Yet a Car

Recently, there have been several news stories about motorcyclists lamenting the 36% increase in the Category D COE since January 2014. Now think about this statistic – from January 2010 to March 2014, the COE for Category D increased by 382%! This statistic comes directly from LTA’s open bidding data.

Now, it’s not just Category A & B car buyers that are complaining about COE prices skyrocketing, but those in Category D as well. That brings us to the biggest point of contention regarding the Renault Twizy – will it be placed in either Category A (cars up to 1600cc or 97kW) or in Category D (motorcycles)?

Yes, it looks like an ultra-compact car, but its performance is anything but car-like (or motorcycle-like for that matter).

In fact, take a minute to see how the Renault Twizy compares to an ultra-compact car (Smart ForTwo) and a motorcycle: (Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R):

Engine Power Top Speed Range Price COE (March2014) COE Category
Renault Twizy 13kW 80kph 100km $25,000+ w/COE N/A N/A
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R 96.4kW 260kph 320km $11,699 $4,289 Category D
Smart ForTwo Coupe 45kW 154kph 503km $120,000 $78,602 Category A

Now put yourself in the shoes of the LTA decision maker who’s going to decide where the Twizy will go (I can already imagine how you’ll misinterpret that line). Judging from the comparison above, are you more likely to place it in Category A or D?

Based on the info you’ve seen above, you’ll probably place the Twizy in Category D because the price difference is less drastic – and that’s why the COE for Category D will increase.

 

It Belongs In a Class of Its Own

I’m not saying that the Renault Twizy belongs in a “class of its own” because I’m trying to pull off some cliché marketing tagline about the vehicle’s virtues. I seriously think that the best way for LTA to address a potential explosion in the COE bidding for Category D will be to create an entirely new class for quadracycles.

That’s how Europe addressed the addition of the quadracycle to its urban highways. In fact, Europe created two classes of quadracycles – heavy and light, which are determined by their weight. Of course, quadracycles and electric vehicles in general have become increasingly popular in Europe as emissions standards have become more stringent over the last few years.

If Europe can create an entirely new classification to accommodate the changing driving and purchasing habits of drivers, why can’t Singapore?

Of course, I’m not the LTA’s head decision maker. As much as I hate to admit it, I can see LTA pulling the pin on this little grenade called the Twizy, then tossing it into Category D where it will blow up the COE bidding price.

However, let’s give LTA the benefit of a doubt that it will do the right thing and place the Renault Twizy in a new Category. In the meantime, you motorcyclists should probably start preparing now for a probable increase in COE.

 

For you motorcyclists out there, what suggestions do you have for LTA on how to deal with quadracycles? Share your thoughts with us here.

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.

  • Cabby Sg

    Now, there is weekend car. Will the LTA consider having weekend motorcycle also, so that it can issue more COE for motorcycle and will benefit those seldom use the motorcycle but want to use it on off-peak hours, and if they want to use on 7am to 7pm, then pay S$2 for it. (weekend car pay S$20).