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Unraveling the Unforgettable $2 COE Crash of November 2008: A Nostalgic Journey

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

In November 2008, the COE market took an unprecedented nosedive that still echoes today. The Category A COE premiums, sky-high at $10,455, plummeted to an astonishing $2 during the bidding for cars with engines up to 1600 cc, etching a historic moment in Singapore's automotive history.

In that unforgettable bidding session, 1,852 bids flooded in for the available 1,851 certificates of entitlement. The lowest successful bid set a record, with the lowest COE price ever. While it brought immense joy to the successful bidders, it might have left one participant regretful, perhaps the one who ventured with a mere token $1 bid.

The preceding COE bidding exercise saw Category A COE close at a staggering $10,455. The dramatic plunge to $2 caught everyone by surprise, from new-car sellers along the Leng Kee to Ubi stretch to the delighted car buyers who secured the cheapest COE in history. Some even bagged COE rebates from dealers, adding to the jubilation.

This extraordinary event was attributed to various factors: a surplus of COEs compared to market demand in 2008, Singapore's gloomy economic sentiment, and the aftermath of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis.

Post the $2 COE shocker, the government restructured the COE bidding system, merging the four COE categories into two, aiming to fortify stability. As we reflect 15 years later, the question lingers: Could we witness a return of single-digit COEs? The likelihood seems slim unless there's a substantial shift in the demand-supply dynamics, echoing the past scenario of soaring demand surpassing supply.

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