I was sitting in a chair at the reception area of a dance academy waiting for my daughter to finish her dance lesson when I realized why Volkswagen never rocked my boat, the GTI included. As I wrote elsewhere a few years ago, the reason I thought the GTI was not a fulfilling car to own was that the Mark5 Volkswagen looked too much like a mini MPV instead of a stonking hot hatch. When you parked it beside to its cousins the Audi A3 or the Skoda Octavia or even the larger sized A4, you
Now this will probably open up a can of worms or two. Who do you reckon is in the wrong? The cyclist or the driver of the Audi?
Filmed by the cyclist on 5th of July along mandai road, a white Audi A1 could be seen pulling out of a small lane and into the path of a cyclist who was doing less than 30km/h on his bike.
According to the source SG Road Vigilante, the guys there reckoned the car did not notice or did not care about the cyclist, barely cutting him off.
What do you guys think?
Was it a close call or an error on the part of the Audi driver? Or was this a simple case of the cyclist letting his ego take control of him and not riding defensively for his own safety?
The love for cars transcends all boundaries. Just the other night when I was washing my car, a little nod of acknowledgement turned into a conversation that could've passed for one between two long-lost friends, between a 37-year old Toyota 86 owner and myself, who have never met prior.
My other half struggles to understand this. How can people from different social, geographical and cultural backgrounds, of different age groups, get together and talk for hours on end about metal boxes on four wheels?
But cars are more than that. Cars are special things that can unite mankind better than any religion in the world. The love for cars can begin from as young an age as one, till the day we die. And thanks to the availability of online forums, car enthusiasts have a place to pour their hearts out, whether it's advice for the next mod, best makan places to drive to, or anything under the sun, really.
One such forum is MyCarForum (MCF), the official forum of sgCarMart.com. And one rather special member is Mr. Zhou, better known as kdash.
A 30-year old civil engineer and a father of two, kdash's love for cars began in the 80s.
"I am a sucker for manual 80s and 90s cars from the time when I was growing up and also 'pop-culture' cars such as the DeLorean DMC-12 (Back to the Future); the Toyota AE86, the Mazda RX-7 FD3S and the Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 (Initial D)," he says.
As a relatively new car owner who's on his second Toyota Sienta, kdash joined MCF to learn more about cars and at the same time, to make new friends. After joining, he was encouraged by some forum members who responded positively to his 'newbie' questions and that prompted him to continue being active in MCF.
He believes that MCF provides an excellent platform where people can ask questions, learn about a particular subject or two and browse through previous posts to find the answers they seek.
A big draw for kdash is the many experienced car enthusiasts active on MCF who are ready, willing and able to answer his questions and share their personal opinions on new cars, car maintenance and the car industry in general.
"There are also threads on other non car-related topics, and MCF members are generally quick to help and give advice. The various opinions and views shared on many topics also help to give me a broader and more balanced view of the issues discussed."
Of course, in return, he also does his part to contribute positively to the forum as much as he can. With MCF, kdash found a community of active forum members who are friendly and ready to accept newcomers like himself.
The MCF members actively discuss the various hot topics of the day, and are always ready to share a joke and not take things too seriously. In his daily surfing of MCF so far, there are always funny, interesting and encouraging posts, which make his day and compels him to come back day after day.
Like many, kdash is appreciative and respectful of all the views of senior members and most importantly, he likes that everyone knows when to be serious and when to relax and joke around.
"I believe that as time passes, people will be able to get a glimpse of who you are by what you post, and that fosters the friendship and familiarity, which I see in MCF currently for the regulars. I feel that I am generally accepted in the forum, and encouraged to find and meet like-minded individuals here."
That newfound friendship, however, is not limited to the web. After two months of joining MCF, kdash managed to make friends and got involved in some of the informal activities like meet-ups, lunches, and even a running group.
"It is always good to be able to put a face to some of the members and get to know one another better so that we can better understand the context when someone posts in the forum," he says.
With all the interactions and interest in MCF, kdash hopes that MCF will continue to be around for many years to come, and hopes to also be able to contribute positively to that effect.
Like the Toyota 86 owner I met while washing my car, kdash and the other MCF members prove that the love for cars transcends all boundaries.
And judging from that love, you won’t have to hope hard, kdash.
A lot of people still equate the term sports car to one that offers fire-breathing, neck-breaking performance. One that is measured in 0-100km/h sprint times and top speeds.
But is that always so?
Take the car pictured above, for example. The Kia Forte Koup. I know that it is a controversial topic, but many still deride the Koup for its lack of outright grunt.
That is despite its other positive qualities, like its sweet handling and smashing good looks.
So what if it doesn't go to 100km/h in a blink of an eye? Performance shouldn't be the be-all-and-end-all for a so-called sports car.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom can hit 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds. I wouldn't call it a sports car.
Similarly, the Mazda MX-5 doesn't exactly have a powerful engine, but its driving and handling set-up can easily put many other faster cars to shame in the corners.
'Sports' is so much more than outright performance. It also has to have balance, involvement, engaging the driver such that he feels joy when driving. Because that's what driving is all about; the experience.
I guess this perspective of 'faster is better' mirrors a lot of Singapore society. Many people only see the end, the destination, and want to reach there quickly, for whatever reason.
Sometimes, it's the journey itself that really counts, and gives you the most pleasure.
Some things are better when enjoyed slowly, at your own pace.
Malaysia might be forced to begin charging a daily Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) fee of S$35 for foreign vehicles entering their country, according to its Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
As reported by Malaysia's Oriental News Daily, this comes after our government decided to implement the Reciprocal Road Charge (RRC) on foreign-registered cars entering the our country. The RRC is fixed at S$6.40 or RM20 and will come into effect on 15th of February this year.
The Transport Minister was quoted by the newspaper saying that Malaysia’s decision to impose the RM20 road charge on foreign-registered vehicles entering Malaysia in November last year was reasonable as Malaysia did not respond to Singapore’s implementation of the VEP fee in 1973. He added on that if Singapore insist on imposing the RRC and do not reconsider doing away with it, they may be forced to implement the higher VEP policy practised by Singapore.
Liow did admit that the move could be a viable method of controlling the number of foreign-registered cars driving into the republic but this will definitely be a burden to Malaysians.
Many of us know that workshops are overcharging us. Whether it is an authorized workshop or it be Ah Tan's Motor (fictitious name). Many times we have no idea at all as to what went wrong and we will blindly listen to what the mechanics are telling us, nodding our heads as though we understood everything they said (or did not say).
Most other times, we just grumble a little and hand over our ATM card. After all, when something goes wrong with our car, we just want to get it fix as soon as possible. Recently I met with one such incident and, in what I felt, had been totally ripped off.
It was probably partly my fault for being too rough on the car. I had pulled up in a Shell station, grab the gear shifter, and with probably a little too much force, yanked it to "P". What followed was a heart sinking "krucckk" sound, accompanied by all the lights beside the gear indicator lighting up and the car now stuck in "R" gear. The gear shifter now has completely lost all resistance and could freely move from P to 1 with a push of a finger. The gear linkage had came loose.
Now, if this were to happen to your friend (lets call him John), who is the average driver and knows nothing about cars, along say Ang Mo Kio Street 11. He/She would probably have thought the worst and a tow truck would be definitely called for. In his/her mind now, this seems to warrant a pretty serious repair, and equally hefty bill.
The workshops know this and therefore, they charge accordingly.
Let me show you what actually happened to my car.
No. 2 is the Gear Linkage that goes to the shifter
No. 3 is the Actuator Lever that is connected to the Gearbox itself
Due to my excessive force, No.2 came loose from No.3. It is basically a rubber boot (No.2) that slots into a ball end on No.3. However, I had damaged the rubber boot slightly and it will not fit properly onto the actuator lever anymore.
So, the workshop decided to change the actuator lever to another which has a screw end instead of a slot-in ball end. They then drill a small hole into the rubber boot so the screw can be fitted through and a nut can be used to hold it in place.
This actuator lever is only a piece of metal about the size of your thumb. So I thought, Hey! That will be cheap! Estimated about maximum $30 for that piece.
NO. It cost $240.
I was a mechanic in army and I know a little about stuffs like that, $240, that is way overkill. The mechanic who knows me knew it was excessive but he said that's what the boss quoted and he can't do anything about it. Not wanting to put my friend in a spot, I reluctantly paid up.
Now, if your friend John who by now believe that he needs to fork out at least $1000 for some huge damage to his gearbox was told that he will only have to pay $240. He'd be delighted and would have gladly paid up.
Sad truth here is, due to the high cost of cars in Singapore, many people mistakenly think that car components cost a lot when in fact cost price for a basic Suzuki swift can be as low as $6000 -$8000 (est.). Do you think that a piece of metal warrants $240?
If you have any similar experiences, do share under the comments section.
Proton’s immediate plan is to change its strategy to become a world-standard carmaker, newly-appointed chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said, according to a Bernama report.
The former PM said Proton has always been labelled as a maker of cheap cars. “Now Proton wants to produce cars which are of world standard, but you have to pay a higher price. You can’t have a good car and pay a bad car price,” he told reporters.
He said that when the Proton Preve and Suprima S were introduced, people claimed they were too highly-priced for a Proton. “The next car of the same quality is RM120,000. You (consumers) want to have cheap cars, OK, Proton can produce cheap cars.
“Proton has to make a living. If consumers want cheap cars Proton will make cheap cars, they run three miles and break down.”
Responding to a question if Proton has approached the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and Petronas for any funds, Mahathir said it had never asked for funding.
Asked if he himself as Proton chairman would approach either for funding, Mahathir replied: “No way, because Proton is a private company now and it is able to make progress in research and development.”
Mahathir also said the government was now encouraging importation of cars rather than encouraging local industries. “When you import cars, money flows out and you don’t get any technology from them,” he said.
Asked if Proton needs government help, he said former South Korean President Park Chung Hee, during his tenure, called up 12 individuals and told them they must go into industry, with him providing the loans and funds.
These companies, like Hyundai, LG and Daewoo, were private companies and their government fully helped them, and because of that today they do not need government help anymore, he added.
In recent years, the downsizing of engines by premium brands has led to luxury cars competing for a slice of the Cat A COE, which is of 1600CC capacity and below. For instance, a 1.6-litre Volvo S80 is something unthinkable 10 years ago but it is available today.
Before that, Cat A COE used to be dominated by work horses such as the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. With the tightening of COE supply, prices are sure to head north.
As premium brands would normally command higher profit margin, it is expected of them to out-bid a Korean or Japanese brand in securing a COE. But is there a fairer way to allocate the limited resources?
Perhaps, COE could be categorized by the car's Open Market Value (OMV) instead of capacity. OMV is assessed by the Singapore Customs, based on the price actually paid or payable for the goods when sold for export to the country of importation. This price includes purchase price, freight, insurance and all other charges incidental to the sale and delivery of the car to Singapore.
To ensure that a middle income Singaporean is not out-priced in the COE hunt, Cat A COE could be classified as cars of OMV below S$20,000. Cars with OMV of between S$20,001 to S$35,000 could be classified under Cat B. In this scenario, a Corolla buyer would not be going after the same piece of COE as a wealthy Volvo S60 T4 buyer.
Rather, this would put the 1.6-litre S60 and the 2.0-litre Camry in the same category, which I believe should make more sense. Cat E COE could be classified as cars with OMV of S$35,001 and above.
Car sales dominated by luxury brands are unheard of in other countries. It is time to put things back to normal.
Juxtapose a recent proposal to keep public transport fares affordable for lower-income groups with the perennial complaint about high car prices (higher for some now), and you have a veritable class divide.
Our bus and train fares are among the lowest in the developed world, based purely on distance covered. But when it comes to service quality standards such as network comprehensiveness, waiting time and reliability, the comparison becomes murkier. Alright, let’s not mince words: The standards available to public transport commuters here are not up to mark.
On the other hand, motorists journey in “Business Class” here. There are roads to every nook and corner of the island, the tarmac is well maintained (except for the occasional sinkhole) and well-lit, traffic is relatively free-flowing, there is ample parking, and drivers are often able to drive faster than stipulated by regulation.
You may say motorists travel “Business Class” because they pay “Business Class” fares – mainly in the form of high car prices. Well, let me be provocative here, and assert that Singapore car owners aren’t paying full fare. That is, their travel is being subsidised. Firstly, let’s look at infrastructure, and compare the two costliest and most current new projects – the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) and the MRT Downtown Line (DTL). The 5km, 10-lane MCE costs $4.72 billion, or $944 million per kilometre, to build. When it opens later this year, it will take up to 10,000 vehicles per hour each direction. Assuming there are two people in each car (it’s often one), and assuming bi-directional volumes are the same (they often aren’t), you will get 40,000 “rides” per hour.
On its part, the 42km DTL costs $20.7 billion, or $493 million per kilometre to build. When fully operational by 2017, it will cater to 500,000 passenger rides per day – or close to 42,000 rides per hour (based on 12-hour train operations).
So you see, the MCE not only costs almost twice as much as the DTL per kilometre, it also carries fewer people. And as part of an underground, undersea link between the Kallang-Paya Lebar and Ayer Rajah expressways, it is unlikely to be used by public buses – which means it is almost exclusively the territory of private transport users.
A 2005 study funded by the European Commission, titled “Hidden Subsidies for Urban Car Transportation – Public Funds for Private Transport”, found that government expenditure for private transport almost always outstrips car-related revenue. It found that said expenditure is mostly associated with road building and maintenance – not only of the roads themselves, but the green spaces alongside them, too.
In Singapore, the annual cost of road maintenance is about $100 million, or about $100 per vehicle. This is relatively low – until you factor in the cost of real estate (something Singaporeans can all relate to pretty well). Roads take up 12 per cent of our land, which works out to about 86 sq km, or 926 million sq ft. Based on, say, $3,600 psf (recent freehold commercial plot transactions), the road space will cost $3.33 trillion, or $3.3 million per road user here.
Of course, this illustration is a tad facetious, because we cannot do without roads altogether. But if you were to imagine a rail network in place of a road network, the cost equation would be completely different.
Rail lines can be largely underground, and high-density developments can be built above them. There will be no pollution and no accidents, either.
Which brings me to the next cost element that motorists do not bear fully: environmental cost and the cost of accidents. In 2006, the United Nations estimated that road fatalities and injuries cost countries US$518 billion (S$641 billion) a year, accounting for one to two per cent of the gross national product. Singapore’s GNP is about $342 billion. One per cent of that works out to $3.42 billion, or $3,420 per road user per year.
Environmental cost is harder to quantify in dollar terms, but the impact is just as tangible. A recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that traffic emissions led to 5,000 premature deaths a year in the UK. Based on the average carbon emission of cars here and the average annual mileage clocked, each driver in Singapore produces about 3.7 tonnes of CO2 a year. So each year, the average car emits twice its own weight in carbon.
Let’s get back to monetary cost comparisons. A family of two adults and two schoolgoing children relying solely on public transport is estimated to spend $250 a month on it. But since a journey by car is about twice as speedy as that by public transport, we have to factor in the value of money. The value of money varies widely from one person to the next, so let’s make it simple and apply a conservative multiplier of two to the monthly expenditure. That makes $500.
Now, $500 is close to the monthly running cost of a COE Category A car, excluding the cost of purchase. The sunk cost of purchase will translate to around $1,000 a month, which the non-car owner gets to save for holidays or retirement. But this $1,000 more per month allows the same family to enjoy “Business Class” travel – access to a far higher level of mobility (e.g. Changi Point for breakfast, a walk by the beach afterwards, lunch and shopping in Orchard Road, and a quiet dinner at a friend’s place), and a measure of status. Not to mention the joy of driving.
And going by gut feel, $1,000 a month does not cover all the externalities mentioned earlier, nor the pleasure of driving on roads that cost nearly $1 billion per kilometre in Singapore.
This article was written by Christopher Tan, consulting editor for Torque.
China manufacturer, BYD, has just introduced its Tang, one of the fastest SUVs around with a total output of 505bhp and 720Nm. And it can do 50km/L.
Yes, this is a hybrid. A very fast one actually. For sale only in China, the Tang gets its huge output from the combination of a 2.0-litre turbo petrol which puts out 205bhp and two electric motors that produce 150bhp each. Power is then channelled to each wheel via a six-speed automatic transmission.
Like most hybrids, the Tang has a different driving modes that allows the driver to choose between an electric only mode or a mix of both electric plus the assistance of the petrol engine. Four modes are available with the all electric only mode driving only the rear wheels via the rear motor. A range extender mode is next up with it using the petrol engine to charge the both the front and rear electric motors. Drive goes to the rear wheels only in this mode.
The third mode then switches the car into hybrid mode, with drive going only to the front wheels via the help of both the front electric motor and the petrol engine. Lastly, a maximum attack mode uses both electric motors and the petrol engine to summon drive to all four wheels for all-out forward thrust.
Need even more power? A limited edition of the Tang, the Tang Ultimate, is available with a host of performance upgrade which in turn sees the century sprint timing dropping to 4.4 seconds from the original's 4.9 seconds. Now that is pretty fast.
There are few better ways to motivate people to go green than through the colour of money.
Thus, the higher petrol duty and tightened Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS) are, in principle, effective environmental policies.
The 15-20 cent/litre increase in petrol duty came into effect yesterday, while the revised CEVS - with bigger carrots and bigger sticks - will kick in from July.
The former is supposed to persuade motorists to drive judiciously and to plan their routes before they set off. The latter aims to encourage car buyers to pick more carbon-efficient models.
Working in tandem, the two policies announced by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in his Budget speech yesterday should lead to cleaner air for everyone.
If drivers could reduce their mileage by just 10 percent, Singapore would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 210,000 tonnes a year. And if the average carbon emissions per car were reduced by a mere 20g/km, the country could cut down on such emissions by 234,000 tonnes a year.
That's a combined total of 444,000 tonnes of carbon reduced every year, not to mention commensurate cuts in toxins such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and benzene.
The figures are based on a car population of 650,000, an average mileage of 18,000km, and an assumed average carbon emission of 180g/km per car.
But the outcome could be even more promising if a few other related changes were made.
One is the re-introduction of diesel duty at the pumps.
Right now, the various diesel users each pay their respective duties upfront annually. This was meant to be a business-friendly initiative by capping duty payable. But what is good for business is bad for the environment.
Because they don't feel the pinch as they pay, diesel users do not see the need to curb wasteful behaviour, such as leaving engines running while stationary - even though this is illegal - or over-revving.
It is common to see taxis, delivery vans or buses spewing exhaust while they are parked.
And other road users know when a diesel vehicle is being driven hard, when they are left in the trail of black smoke.
Diesel is also the culprit in bootleg sales. Once the diesel pump duty was removed in 1998, "white pumps" selling non-branded fuel proliferated.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that fuels sold at these pumps do not meet the low-sulphur requirement in place here.
With the new announcements, cabbies driving petrol-run taxis will face the brunt of the hike in petrol duty.
Over time, they might shun these models and revert to diesel cabs.
This would be a shame, as cab operators like SMRT and Prime Taxi have been growing their environmentally friendly petrol-hybrid fleets.
Re-introducing the diesel duty at the pumps - and pegging it to petrol rates - would level the playing field on this front, and allow petrol cabs to compete fairly with their diesel counterparts.
Meanwhile, the revised CEVS would be far more meaningful if the rebates can be used to offset road or income taxes.
As it is, end-users do not realise the full benefit of a rebate, which is bundled with a car's list price. It would be easy for a dealer to raise prices before applying the CEVS - the consumer would be none the wiser.
Also, since the CEVS is offset against a car's Additional Registration Fee (ARF), its scrap value is also reduced accordingly, so the actual savings are far less than advertised.
Not only that, it will be buyers of fairly expensive cars who enjoy the full benefit of a top-tier CEVS rebate. This is because the minimum ARF payable is $5,000, so the open market value of a car has to be $35,000 or more for the maximum CEVS rebate of $30,000 to be fully realised.
by Christopher Tan
Is it time for LTA to revise the speed limits on our expressways?
The only conceivable purpose (to me at least) for imposing laws regulating the maximum speed we can drive at is safety. It keeps us safe; it keeps the people/objects around us safe. But is our current speed limit on the expressway an over-enthusiastic curb (i.e. is LTA being too kiasu)? My answer is YES.
The reason? It is no longer reasonable to restrict our expressway speed at 90km/h or less (for passenger cars) in most circumstances. To begin with, most passenger vehicles in Singapore are safer and more capable of traveling safely at speeds above 90km/h per day. Most of our passenger cars are not manufactured exclusively for the Singapore market and would reasonably be in use in areas such as Europe where speed limits tend to be higher. Thus far, we have yet to hear of accidents in Europe occurring because their speed limit has been set too high, have we?
Furthermore, considering the ever efficient LTA and the immense amount of road planning and road maintenance, we have really wonderful expressways with very few stretches which are dangerous at speeds slightly above 90km/h. Of course, a few expressways have to be specially excluded such as the KPE (due to it being a long tunnel), but I am sure most stretches of expressway in Singapore are safe for travel at a slightly higher speed. When these factors are considered, it does seem that our current speed limit may be overly cautious.
Now, do not mistake me for the speed demon. I am all for some restriction; it just seems that the current speed limit can do with a slight upward tweak. It will surely go a long way to making those late night journeys home that little bit faster.
What do you think?...
According to Stomp, a Singapore-based online journalism web portal where readers are encouraged to contribute interesting news, a lowered Mitsubishi Lancer was seen needing help crossing a speed bump near Gek Poh Shopping Centre in Jurong West.
As reported from the website, the male passenger had to alight from the Lancer and manually lift its front lip while the driver cautiously drove pass the speed hump. While yours truly here loves lowered cars and can understand why some owners want to make their cars extremely low, this might be a little bit too much.
What do you readers think of this? Are the comments on the website too harsh? Do let us know in the comments below!
I am sure most of us car nuts enjoy going across the causeway for a spin. And usually, that spin is likely to be a brisk one. Bad news for those who actually do, because according to paultan.org, the government is mulling over the idea of installing speed limiting device in all vehicles.
The vehicles subjected to the 110km/h speed limiting includes all passenger cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles. Emergency vehicles and other law enforcement vehicles would be exempted from the speed limiting.
This is because the number of road accidents and fatalities have been on the rise. According to Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Dr Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah, using a speed limiting device to stop speedsters 'would be a suitable method to reduce road accidents'.
He added that if enforced, it would put Malaysia on the map as the first country in the world to limit vehicle speed car based on speed limits in accordance with national law too.
While there are no details on how it would affect Singapore cars, let's hope this does not turn into reality!
It was a beautiful Saturday morning and I was heading to MacRitchie Reservoir (MR) for a good run. As I was driving into the carpark, I was unpleasantly surprised to be greeted by a saluting gantry.
MR is a beautiful park where families like to go for a weekend stroll. I am not sure why National Parks (NPs) decide to charge for parking now as the renovated carpark was free of charge all along. The probable reason could be that NPs is trying to recover the cost of renovating the toilet and drop-off point area. I believe that some families would think twice about spending a weekend at MR now. From what I can observe that morning, the carpark occupancy easily dropped about 20%.
Referring to the parking charges below, even Sunday parking is chargeable. I hope that the relevant authorities can reconsider making Sunday parking free of charge (like Lower Pierce Reservoir) to encourage families to come together and enjoy a healthy activity at the park.
I paid about $3.10 for parking at MR on that Saturday morning, which could have bought me a decent meal at a hawker centre. Going forward, running at MR shall become a rarity for me....
We know PMDs can be fast if you know what to do to increase its performance. Check out how this rider goes from Yishun to Ang Mio Kio in less than 5 mins.
Of course, being electric-powered, there is plenty of torque to pull away from the rest of the traffic. The camera car gets dropped once the lights turn green but soon manages to follow behind after some time.
No traffic lights along Lentor Avenue? Let's switch into 'max speed mode' then! we are no scientists or mathematicians but a wild guess probably puts the rider speed above the road's speed limit of 70km/h.
Soon, he encounters traffic and goes past easily.
The rest of the video then shows him passing more vehicles like a pro.
Rider even checks his blind spot when changing lane. Bravo!
By now, it is 4 minutes into the length of the video and the rider is already traveling along Ang Mo Kio Ave 6.
Thankfully, we can see from the video that he did not get into any accident riding on the road illegally.
Here's the full video from SG Road Vigilante.
From next February, motorists will have to contend with zero-growth allowance in the vehicle quota system. The move to lower the allowable annual growth rate from 0.25 percent currently to zero reversed what former Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew had previously pronounced.
Mr. Lui had indicated that a small, controlled growth was necessary to meet the car-owning aspirations of Singaporeans. Well, that was before the 'car-lite' slogan became a mantra among policymakers.
What does zero growth mean? At first glance, it does not look like much. After all, the current growth rate is already 0.25 percent (down from as high as three percent during the first half of the 27-year old vehicle quota system).
But it is actually a big deal. And not just from the ideological perspective which Mr. Lui alluded to. Zero growth will in fact shrink the car population more than it has already been shrinking.
Even at 0.25 percent, the car population has been contracting. From the peak of 607,292 cars in 2013, the population has fallen by 10.4 percent or 63,301 to 543,991 (as at September this year) - the lowest since 2008.
Why the shrinkage? Simply because there is a three-month lag between the time a car is deregistered and its Certificate of Entitlement (COE) is recycled back into the system.
In the past, the growth rates were large enough to mask this lag. But at 0.25 percent, it is no longer able to do this. The clawback of some 17,600 oversupplied COEs five years ago contributed to the shrinkage, but it does not account for the population contraction of 63,301 cars.
Zero growth will accelerate car 'depopulation' - a term Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan used in Parliament in March this year.
How big an impact is a population contraction of 63,301? Well, in a simplified way, it means some 63,000 households which had cars before no longer have them today (assuming one car per household). That's about five percent of households.
With zero growth, my own conservative estimate is that more than 100,000 families who had a car in 2013 will no longer have one by 2023. And if one household has four people, we are talking about more than 400,000 people losing access to private transportation.
That will no doubt fuel the Government's ambition to have more people take public transport. At a conservative 2.5 trips a person, the 400,000 'car-less' people will contribute to more than one million additional trips on buses and trains a day.
Hopefully, the public transport infrastructure can cope with the influx.
But what will it mean for those with car-owning aspirations? Alas, they will have to come to terms with the fact that no more than 30 percent of households will have a car in the near future - down from about 40 percent today.
With Singapore's resident population continuing to grow, the near-term car ownership figure could be nearer 25 percent, and in the long term, 20 percent.
So, those who want to own a car by say, 2030, will have to be the top 20 percent earners. That will be the new reality, if policymakers continue their 'car-lite' push.
The Government, of course, says this is necessary, given that land is scarce in Singapore, and roads already take up 12 percent of surface space today.
Without a doubt, Singapore cannot be a city for cars. But can it be viable with such a hard anti-car policy? Will this policy lead to a brain drain as young and upwardly mobile people look elsewhere to start a family? Will foreign investors be put off by say, $200,000 for a COE (almost a certainty if only a small fraction of the population can own cars).
The Government is of the view that people need not own a car to have access to a car. It seems to think the explosive growth in private-hire car services and the looming emergence of autonomous cars will see to this.
When Mr. Khaw used the 'depopulation' term in March, he indicated as much. "There will be less need to own cars," he proclaimed. "It is about a lifestyle change, a mindset shift, and improving the quality of life for all."
He also said, "New technology, disruptive business models and commuters' demand for higher levels of service are transforming the way we move about. History is truly in the making. Where these will lead us, we cannot be sure. But it sure is exciting."
Clearly, change is upon us. But whether it will be 'exciting' or 'terrifying' remains to be seen.
The following article is written by Christopher Tan, a Senior Transport Correspondent with The Straits Times.
Someone mentioned Suzuki? I have to honestly say that the current Suzuki Swift Sports is a mighty fine supermini. The first time I drove it I was slightly taken aback by the slightly rubbery steering feel and the slightly high up sitting position. But the more and more I went back to the same corner with the Suzy things became much clearer. This little hatchback is really good. This was a car that reminded me of the time when hot hatches were small dainty cars with responsive and revvy engines coupled with handling to boot.
Classic hatchbacks that come to mind are the original Mk1 and Mk2 VW Golfs (surprise, surprise), the 4th Generation Honda Civic EF, the CRX EF (in some ways), the original Swift GTI and the Fiat 130TC. A notable new mention would be the BMW Mini Cooper S. Some of these cars were 'hot' long before some of you started to walk and they are in some ways the quintessential hot hatches. They were light, nimble small cars that had slightly powerful engines stuffed under their bonnets. Note that I said light, nimble and small. Cars like the Mk 4 and Mk5 Golf GTIs became a 30 something year old guy suffering from middle age spread around the tummy but due to some weight lifting and bulk, had the bhp and torque to still throw a punch; somewhat. Ergo the Swift Sport reminded me of the good ol' days.
One of the important facts of a hot or slightly warm hatch is affordability. The Swift Sport epitomizes this fact and when you add the all important point of handling, it's a done deal. This is the only small Front Wheel Drive (FWD) hatchback that I tried which would allow its tail to wag upon trail braking into a corner or the fact that when you lift off mid corner the nose would tuck in and its rear would follow through. It was unnerving at first because most of the FWD cars that I had driven lately seemed happy to understeer early on if you entered a corner a little too fast. I then realized that this was a car where anyone didn't need to spend tons of money on tuning the suspension to chuck the car about. While the steering was slightly rubbery and springy, always wanting to straighten out, it was precise, quick and had feedback & feel, making any corner an opportunity for the driver to go for it. The only other affordable car that will handle like this is the Proton Satria Neo, but you'd suffer from a serious lack of headroom and the overall lack of quality if you bought one. Unless you were a hobbit and have never seen or felt better grades of plastic before.
If you wanted a car that you felt you could trust while attacking the apex of a corner, you'd want a Swift Sport. Due to the short wheelbase and the tire at each corner of the chassis you would feel that when you point the little car into a corner and before you know it, you're at the apex and powering through it. But if you're the kind of person who's not used to the car, I'd suggest taking time to learn the handling before going Banzai. If you didn't, you might shock yourself when it does what it does best, which is take a slightly drifting attitude at high speeds. Forget gadgets like launch control, traction control or even mind control. This car is pure, old school fun.
The drawback to owning this car is the fact that the 1.6liter 125bhp engine is merely adequate due to the 1100kg curb weight and a 0 to 100km/h time takes about 9seconds. Give it another 25bhp you'll be grinning like crazy 100% of the time instead of 90% of the time when you're driving this car. The other drawback is that it has a small boot. But how many times a year do you use it to carry things? Or do you even go on drive-to holidays? So if you're looking for a decent warm to hot little car, buy the Suzy even though it has been around for awhile now. Do not buy Nissan Latios or Hyundai Vernas. Because if you do, you're just buying transport, and not fun.
However, if you decide to save some money and buy the basic 1.5liter or 1.3 liter models of the Swift, the handling is pretty much the same but understeer sets in early and the tail refuses to wag about like the Sport. Maybe its safer for novice drivers too. I suppose the understeer is due to smaller tires (185/60/15 over 195/50/16) on rims one size smaller and narrower (15inches over 16inches). Shock absorber setting also differ but I do not think by much. The plus side is that the steering somehow feels less rubbery, without the slightly more aggressive self centering effect probably due to less rubber on the road. It is still a fun car to drive nonetheless.
How a century sprint timing of 3 seconds and a quarter-mile run of 10.95 seconds sound to you? Yup, that's how fast GM's new Z06 Corvette is when paired with its eight-speed automatic. The seven-speed manual will do the above two runs in a slightly slower 3.3 seconds and 11.2 seconds respectively. Still not too shabby I guess!
It shouldn't be when you have a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 pushing 650bhp and 880Nm of torque. GM says the Z06 is also very good at stopping with them claiming it having 'the best braking performance of any production car it has ever tested'. It comes to a stop from 96km/h in 30.36 meters if you are wondering.
So it goes and stop very well. How about turning then? The Z06 is claimed to be able to achieve 1.2g in the corners and again, GM says it is 'its fastest production car ever tested at its own Milford Road Course, beating the record set by the Corvette ZR1 by one whole second'.
Hyundai's South Korean blog has the first official photos of the upcoming 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. The new pictures confirmed that the styling changes will bring the rear-wheel drive coupe in line with Hyundai's more recent offerings such as the Veloster and i40 sedan.
The most obvious changes take place up front where the Genesis Coupe obtains a new nose featuring a larger hexagonal grille split in the middle by a glossy black section. The shape of the grille appears to bear design elements from the recently face-lifted Audi A5. The front also comes with a revised bumper, sleeker lights and a redesigned hood with air vents. At the back, we find brand new tail lamps sitting atop the redesigned bumper and a more concave boot lid. The brake lights now bear resemblance to those found on the Hyundai I45.
The 2013 Genesis Coupe will debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2012 and is expected to keep it
Subaru has unveiled the all-new fourth-generation Impreza at the New York Motor Show, which it claims to be more efficient than the outgoing model.
Which is all well and good, but what happened to the Subaru of before?
Subaru used to be known for their cutting edge design and technology. Its Legacy models were handsome and understated-looking executive cars, and the Impreza were highly impressive performers, as evidenced by their success in the World Rally Championship during the 1990s.
However, ever since it withdrew from rallying a few years ago, the company seems to be going downhill. The Legacy now looks like a mess, and now we have this dull-looking new Impreza.
I don't know about you, but this new model doesn't come across as very exciting to me. I don't think car enthusiasts will go ga-ga over the new Impreza.
What's happened to Subaru?
Launched in early 2006, the Mazda 6 MPS was the first MPS-badged car to arrive on our shores and with the success of its newly-revamped Mazda3 and 6 sedans then, hopes were high on the 6 MPS to deliver more thrills as Mazda tried to shed its boring image.
With most of its rivals in its class looking and feeling bland to drive, the 6 MPS caught my attention when it was launched. With the family car being a Mazda6 too, the urge to try and experience the difference between the MPS variant and the plain jane version was great. But as a student back then, i was obviously too poor to afford it. Besides, test drives were limited.
Fast forward to the present, I finally got myself a go in the 6 MPS with a help of a good friend and boy i was excited.
At nearly ten-years old, the car still looks as handsome and fresh as it was when it first came out. While some other publications might lament that it looks too tame for its own good, I think it suits the car. Not all Japanese all-wheel drive performance cars must have big spoilers and scoops in my opinion.
Anyway enough about the looks. This is a performance car and after all the years, I am glad to report that the car still feels brisk enough considering how hot hatches now have in excess of 300bhp. FYI, the car has 254bhp and 380Nm of torque from its 2.3-litre turbo four when new. Credits to the previous owners, this unit seems well-taken care of and the engine feels as strong as the figures suggest. Throttle response is surprisingly good but turbo lag is evident. The six-speed manual isn't the best manual box around. It feels too notchy and has too long a throw.
So does it turn well? It does to a large extend but when the going gets tough, body composure gets slightly too lose for my liking. Rolls quite fair bit too. As for the ride, it is surprisingly pliant and trips up north via their highways should leave you feeling fresh at the end of the journey. The steering is well-weighted and precise with decent amount of feel. Does it feel like it has all-wheel drive when you power out of the corners? Not really. At least not in the dry. But you know the system is working well when full throttle getaways are always clean and fuss-free.
In the end, the Mazda 6 MPS wasn't the bruiser I was hoping it would be. While I wasn't disappointed with it, I somehow walked away thinking that the car could have been something more that could stir the soul. That said, with less than an estimated 30 units here on our roads, this car is a rare one. And I wouldn't mind having a good rare car.
It was a great Saturday morning as close to 50 MyCarForum (MCF) members gathered at Roundhouse Pizza, Bar & Grill for Mercedes-Benz and MCF's first ever Brunch Test Drive event.
Although it was an early day for everyone, it was indeed a wonderful opportunity for MCF members to gather, make new friends and to get up close and personal with the cars, which included the B-Class, the CLA-Class, the all new GLA-Class. The maniacal A 45 AMG was also present, allowing four lucky members to enjoy a ride in it.
Nope, that is definitely not the regular A-Class.
Members' rides were also given a little cosmetic enhancement with the cool MyCarForum Sticker.
The test route of the day.
Can I have those keys, please?
Members were treated to a wholesome spread of delicious food.
Oh man, I can't wait to get in that car...
Operations Executive of Mercedes-Benz Sales, Jonathan Chu, giving members a closer look at the all new GLA-Class.
Associate Editor of sgCarMart, Julian Kho, sharing his experience with the GLA-Class in Granada, Spain.
The time everyone was waiting for - four lucky winners get a ride in the A 45 AMG!
Let's rock and roll. But first, let's take a photo with a grin from ear to ear.
With 360bhp and 450Nm of torque at its driver's disposal, the A 45 AMG is one HOT hatchback. Yeah, HOT.
The other star of the day, the all new GLA-Class.
Trivia time. "Hubby, you need to help me out here..."
So I got the correct answer. Do I win a GLA-Class?
Click here for more photos of the event.
China comes out with a bad Range Rover clone called the Longer Yuelang X1 which is erm, kind of short. Shown last week at the Shandong Electric Vehicle Expo in Jinan City, this awkward-looking low-speed electric vehicle (LSEV) has plenty of Range Rover styling clues all over it. Highlights of this clone are the 'Range' inscription up front and the 'ONEVROVER' at the back.
And yes, it has BMW wheels that might actually need a wash. We believe they must have forgotten they are exhibiting their car at a show.
Powered by a 3kw electric motor that is paired to a lead-acid battery, it can hit a maximum of 50km/h and has a range of 120km. Weighing in at 600kg, it will cost you S$6200.
Eagle-eyed readers might notice the gear lever looking like its a manual gearbox and we wonder what the big red button in front of it would do.
Let us know what do you think of this. We reckon the Land Rover guys must be laughing out now.
If there's something strange in the neighbourhood, who you gonna call?
If there's something unbearable like the loud exhaust from an RX-8 (I think it’s an RX-8), who you gonna call?
LTA takes your complaints seriously
In a post uploaded on SG Road Vigilante, a video and various images of 2 LTA officers checking out the undercarriage of an RX-8 has gone viral.
Here's the link to the long video (might take awhile to load because it’s 4mins+ long, I suggest skimming through the video).
The story behind this
Apparently, a "pek cek" (exasperated) neighbour could not take the sound of the car’s exhaust and made a complaint to LTA.
The neighbour even left a note for the owner of the car.
I can feel the passion from this comment.
Very interesting plot twist. I think the neighbour will have to lan lan suck thumb, wear earplugs.
Err. LTA stands for Land Transport Authority.
If you want to complain
Have a neighbour with too much money and owns a car that disrupts the peace of the neighbourhood?
Call LTA @ 1800 2255 582
The officers will come down to investigate in no time.