When a friend of mine casually mentioned that he only pays $0.65 to park his motorcycle for an entire day, I nearly spit water in his face. I pay the same amount for 30 mins at an HDB car park! I always knew that it was much cheaper to ride a motorcycle than to drive a car, but I didn’t expect the car and motorcycle ownership costs to differ by that much in Singapore.
And with that, I set out to find out exactly how much cheaper motorcycles are compared to cars in Singapore.
Cost comparison of motorcycle vs car ownership in Singapore
|Getting the licence||$2,200 (one-time)||$900 (one-time)|
|Ownership & maintenance||$80,000 (one-time) + $886 yearly||$15,000 (one-time) + $147.56 yearly|
|Running costs||$4,220 yearly||$935.44 yearly|
The above calculations are a rough estimate for gauge – how much you actually spend will depend on a lot of things, like how many driving/riding lessons you need, what car/motorcycle you buy and yada yada. Based on a typical driver’s usage, I assumed you
- service the vehicle once a year
- pump 95-octane petrol twice a month
- have an HDB season parking
- are a first-time motorist (to gauge the insurance premium).
Let’s examine each expense.
Stage 1: Getting a car vs motorcycle licence in Singapore
Be it 2 or 4 wheels, the paying starts before you even get your hands on a vehicle. The biggest expense is, of course, learning to drive or ride, and then getting your licence.
For both, how much you spend largely depends on how many practical lessons it takes for you to get the hang of it. Assuming you are a normal person with reasonable psychomotor skills, here’s a rough breakdown of the costs.
Cost of driving and riding lessons in Singapore
There are 3 driving schools in Singapore: Bukit Batok Driving Centre (BBDC), ComfortDelGro Driving Centre (CDC) and Singapore Safety Driving Centre (SSDC). For ease of comparison, let’s look at BBDC’s rates (they seem the cheapest). All prices include GST.
|School enrolment fee||$96.30 (for 1 year), membership renewal at $8.03 per month||$58.85 (for 1 year), membership renewal at $4.90 per month|
|Theory lesson||$17.12 (100 min / session)||$17.12 (100 min / session)|
|Theory practice lesson||$3.21 (45 min / session)||$3.21 (45 min / session)|
|Theory evaluation session||$5.35 (45 min / session)||$5.35 (45 min / session)|
|Practical lesson||$68.48 (off-peak), $77.04 (peak)||
$25.68 (off-peak, circuit), $29.96 (peak, circuit), $36.38
(off-peak, road), $40.66 (peak, road)
Subject 8.01: $59.92 (off-peak), $62.06 (peak)
|Driving simulator||$13.91 (50 min / session)||–|
|Expressway famiilarisation riding||–||$40.66 (second booking onwards)|
|Risk forecast training lesson||$22.47 (100 min / session)||–|
|Total||$2,000 to $2,400+||$800 to $1,000+|
Actually, the costs are pretty similar during the theory stage of your course (i.e. before you hit the roads). There’s no difference in theory lesson costs and random stuff like eyesight tests and photo-taking.
The bulk of the cost difference comes from the practical lesson prices. For cars, it is at least $68.48 per lesson, and that’s assuming you can make it for off-peaking timings (which is unlikely). For bikes, off-peak lessons are as cheap as $25.68 to $36.38, depending on whether you’re doing a circuit or road lesson. That’s at least half the price!
The 1-year enrolment fees are also higher for a Class 3/3A driving course ($96.30) compared to Class 2B ($58.85).
Driving & riding test fees in Singapore
When you’re done with the above, it’s time to take the tests.
|Basic theory test||$6.50||$6.50|
|Final theory test||$6.50||$6.50|
The tests cost the same, but the cost to rent a car for your final practical test is literally 4.5X more expensive than that of motorcycles.
And you don’t need to book a warm-up session for bikes – just whack only.
Stage 2: Ownership & maintenance costs of cars vs motorcycles in Singapore
Licence, check! Now it’s time to buy your car.
|Ownership & maintenance||Car||Motorcycle|
|Cost of the vehicle (brand new)||From $80,000||From $15,000|
|COE (included into the cost of the vehicle)||$33,199 (Cat A, Apr 2019)||$3,452 (Cat D, Apr 2019)|
|Road tax||$686 yearly||From $62.56 yearly ($31.28 every 6 months)|
|Servicing||From $200+||From $20 to $150+|
|Total||~$80,000 (one-time) + $886 yearly||~$15,000 (one-time) + $147.56 yearly|
Wah, I see $3,000+ COE I want to faint already.
COE & the cost of vehicle
The biggest expense of this whole entire thing is the buying the vehicle (duh). Comparing brand new wheels, the cost of a swanky new car is expected to cost you at least $80,000. At the time of writing, the cheapest brand new car I could find on sgCarMart is the Hyundai Avante 1.6A at $82,999.
In contrast, $15,000 can buy you a pretty decent brand new bike. Think popular entry-level models like the Honda CBR150R, Bajaj Pulsar 200NS and more.
If you’re open to buying second hand, you can even halve the price for motorcycles. For cars, if you leave about 5 years left on the Certificate of Entitlement (COE), you can take about 30% off.
The COE is included in the prices above, but I thought it’d be good to note the huge difference anyway. Last month (Apr 2019), the COE for Cat A cars was $33,199, whereas the COE for Cat D motorcycles was just a tenth of that ($3,452).
Part of owning the vehicle is paying road tax. Again, the cost of having your car on the road is 10X that of a motorcycle. For a regular 1.5L car vs 200cc bike, it is $686 vs $62.56.
Perhaps it’s because motorcycles take up a tenth of the space…? (shrugs)
Servicing costs also vary quite a bit. Assuming no repairs are needed (so just changing engine oil, cleaning filters, etc), a typical car servicing session would cost about $200. For motorcycles, it can be as cheap as $20.
Stage 3: Running costs
The last part is the running cost of owning the car / motorcycle. This includes stuff like motor insurance, petrol, parking and ERP.
|Motor insurance (new driver/rider)||$1,800 to $3,000+||$200 to $300+|
|Petrol (full tank) *||$105.30 before discounts (45L tank)||$25.70 before discounts (11L tank)|
|HDB parking||$0.60 per 30 mins||$0.65 for the whole day|
|Season parking||$80 to $190||$15 to $17|
|ERP||$0.50 to $6||$0.25 to $3|
|Total (excluding non-season parking & ERP)||~$4,220 yearly||~$935.44 yearly|
* Assuming you pump 95-octane petrol at $2.34 / litre.
Motor insurance premiums
Okay, so how much your motor insurance premium will cost largely depends on your risk profile. They take into consideration things like your vehicle model, whether or not you’ve ever been in accidents, if you’re married/single, and etc.
To seasoned drivers, the premiums listed above may seem very high. That’s because the quotations I got are for new drivers, who are considered high risk (or what I like to call “likely to langah”). I expected motorcycle insurance premiums to be more expensive (because they seem at greater risk for accident), but it’s still waaaay cheaper than that of cars.
You’ll use the same petrol for both vehicles, but the fuel tank capacity is very different for the two. For cars, it’s usually at least 45L, while some motorcycles are good to go with as little as 5L. They are usually about 11L though.
Assuming you pump 95-octane petrol ($2.34/litre), it’s $105.30 vs $25.70 before discounts. How much discount you get depends on which credit card and loyalty card you have, but it can go up to 24% off, which is significant. (Read more about the best credit cards for petrol here.)
Parking & ERP costs
And then there are parking and ERP costs. This is the one that really got me: parking is so ridiculously expensive for cars! Even the cheapest HDB parking costs $0.60 per half an hour, whereas for motorcycles, the same would cost $0.65 for the whole day.
When it comes to season parking, the difference is also shocking. Season parking for cars will cost $80 to $190 monthly, but for bikes it is $15 to $17 monthly (HDB car parks). It’s also much easier to find free parking spots for bikes.
For ERP, it’s about half-price for motorcycles ($0.50 to $6 vs $0.25 to $3).
Conclusion: yes, motorcycles are really way cheaper to own, but a car serves plenty of other needs.
If you’re an independent, swinging single with no commitments whatsoever, then perhaps a motorcycle could be better for you. It’s much cheaper to own and maintain, and will get you from point A to B just as a car would. Heck, it may be even quicker if you garang enough to weave through traffic jams.
But although cost-wise motorcycles are way more economical, most people still prefer cars for several reasons: firstly, it’s safer. You can say what you want, but at the end of the day, even if you’re the safest driver/rider, you can’t control the other motorists on the road. So of course, it helps to have 4 doors of metal around you.
And secondly, you can’t fetch and ferry your friends and family with a motorcycle. Those who need a vehicle to travel with children or elderly don’t have much choice but to get a car.
What do you think – would you consider buying or switching to a motorcycle because it’s so much cheaper? Tell us in the comments below!