Mercedes Outsells Toyota in Singapore. Where Else Would That Be Possible?

Automologist MAC noticed something strange on a recent visit to our neighbour. 

For years, the car market in Singapore has been dominated by Toyota. Despite being a high-income country renowned for a fleet of luxury cars, in the diminutive neighbour to our south, Toyota ruled the roost. Having just returned from a visit to Singapore, I noticed that the number of Mercedes in use seemed to be somewhat higher than I had expected. So I did a little bit of research and, lo and behold, in 2022, Mercedes managed to knock the old favourite Toyota off the number one spot.

According to information published by the Land Transit Authority of Singapore (LTA), Mercedes managed to sell 4,336 units, which accounted for about 14% of all the cars sold there during the period. Previously, the closest the venerable brand from Stuttgart came to achieving the top spot was back in 1995, when they missed out by a mere 21 cars. Toyota managed to sell just less than 4,000 in 2022 with the third place going to Mercedes’s archrival, BMW, which sold 3,626 cars last year.

Only a total of 30,939 new cars were put on the road in 2022, according to the LTA, which is a dramatic fall from 45,442 in 2021. Most of the fall can be attributed to the reduction in certificates of entitlements (COE), which is the permit you need to buy from the government prior to purchasing a car. The reduction in this supply caused the price of these COEs to surge 100%, so you need to pay over USD60,000 for a small car and just about USD85,000 for a premium car, such as many of the Mercs I saw on the road.

Tesla was one brand that saw growth and gained a position in the top ten cars in Singapore for the first time. Our old friends from California sold 867 vehicles to gain the number six spot on the league table of manufacturers. I did notice that every time I got into a Grab Ride Share (okay, Taxi) the vehicle was a Hybrid or full EV (I finally got to ride in a Polestar). Now, when you consider that only 2.9% of the electricity in Singapore comes from renewable sources (mostly burning household waste, which may not really be described as renewable) with the rest coming from fossil fuel, it would seem that the EV is not as ecologically friendly as my Polestar taxi driver thought.

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