Singapore Bans New Car Sales

Want to live in Singapore? You are gonna need this.

In a typical brash stroke of a legislature’s pen, the good folks of Singapore will be forbidden from purchasing a new car in the Island Republic—well, at least from February 2018 until 2021—in a bid to ease the alleged chronic traffic and to stop the island from being overrun with vehicles. Singapore already was one of the most difficult and expensive places on earth to own a car, with a typical four-door sedan costing more than four times as much as an equivalent model in the US of A, but now the car-hating republic has gone one step further.

Now, the Land Transit Authority, which already limited the growth of vehicles to 0.25% per year, is adding to the slew of import duties and registration fees, like the Certificate of Entitlement, by declaring an all-out ban. So, if your job was in the car sale line, tough luck, buddy; you are out of work.

Singapore politically is a strange case. It is a democracy but has been ruled since independence from Malaysia by just the one party, the People’s Action Party. But this is not a banana republic—it is one of the most advanced City States in the world, capable of standing shoulder to shoulder with superpowers. In fact, just this week, the PM Lee Hsien Loong was meeting with Donald Trump.

The fact is, Singapore has one of the best public transport investment strategies in the world, and the population seem to happily go about their business on buses and trains and metro systems and ride-sharing schemes without complaint. The trouble is, the country is small—less than half the size of London—but already has more than 12% of its surface area paved for roads. Thus, it was deemed essential to take drastic action to curb the desire to own a car. The ban is only for private cars and motorcycles. Public service vehicles and the like will not be restricted, but it does feel like the brave new world just got one step closer.

Just in case you do not know how to buy a car in Singapore, you need to go get yourself a permit, called the Certificate of Entitlement; this enables holders to own their vehicles for 10 years. Wow, thanks. There is a limited supply of these permits, with the government only allowing the expansion in total number of cars of 0.25% per annum. These permits are then auctioned monthly by the government. At the most recent auction, the permit cost S$41,617 (US$30,563) for the smallest vehicles.

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