Owning a car in Singapore is more expensive compared to anywhere else in the world. As written in a previous article, the cost of owning a car – such as a Japanese sedan like the Toyota Altis – can add up to about $157,000 over 10 years, or more than $15,000 per year.
If you wish/need to own a car in Singapore, one way to reduce the cost is to buy an off-peak car. Off-peak cars were introduced in the 90s to reduce peak hour traffic while still allowing Singaporeans to own a car.
According to the LTA’s website OneMotoring, there are three types of off-peak cars on the road – Weekend Car (WEC), Off-Peak Car (OPC) and Revised Off-Peak Car (ROPC). However, you don’t need to worry about the WEC and the OPC (unless you currently own one) because cars can now only be registered as a ROPC or be converted to the ROPC scheme.
Both the WEC and the OPC are old schemes that remain until the cars still under these schemes are phased out.
Off-peak cars under the ROPC come with restricted driving hours.
Your car can’t be driven on:
|Revised Off-Peak Car (ROPC)|
|Monday – Friday||7am to 7pm|
|Eve of 5 Public Holidays in Singapore (Eve of New Year’s Day, Eve of Chinese New Year, Eve of Hari Raya Puasa, Eve of Deepavali, and Eve of Christmas Day)||No Restrictions|
|Public Holidays in Singapore||No Restrictions|
Note: Cars under the WEC and OPC are not allowed to be driven from 7am to 3pm on Saturdays and eve of the 5 Public Holidays
As you can see from the table above, off-peak cars cannot be driven on the roads between 7am and 7pm on weekdays (except Public Holidays). These cars can be driven freely outside of restricted hours.
Those who already own normal, non-off-peak cars, having restricted driving hours may feel like an unacceptable proposition. After all, if we already intend to spend more than $100,000 over 10 years on a car, why should we still have to deal with not being able to drive the car during certain hours of the day when we wish to.
However, off-peak cars may make sense for certain families. For example, if both husband and wife are working from Monday to Friday in the office, and do not drive to work (e.g. they are working in the CBD where parking is expensive and driving may take more time than taking the train), then an off-peak car that allows them to bring the family out for dinner after 7pm on weekdays and can be used on weekends may be what they need.
If you wish to drive your off-peak cars on certain days (e.g. you are on leave and want to drive the family out to the zoo), you can do so by buying an e-Day license for $20 for the day.
How Much Do You Save When You Buy An Off-Peak Car?
When you buy an off-peak car, you will get up to $17,000 rebate, which is offset against the COE price and the Additional Registration Fee (ARF).
Essentially, you save $17,000 on the purchase price of the car. For example, a car’s purchase price (with COE) is $80,000, you pay only $63,000.
On the rare occasion that the COE price and the ARF is lesser than $17,000, then the rebate may be lower.
For example, the Perodua Bezza, currently the cheapest car in Singapore, has an OMV of $11,447. If we assume it has no VES rebate, this means the ARF will also be $11,447. If COE price drops to $5,000, total cost of the COE and ARF will be $16,447. In this instance, the rebate you get for buying an off-peak car will be $16,447, and not $17,000.
In addition, you also enjoy savings of up to $500 each year on your annual road tax, subject to a minimum road tax payment of $70 per year. This means if the road tax of your car is less than $570, you won’t actually get the full $500 in savings.
Assuming that you get the full $17,000 rebate for COE and ARF and $500 in savings for road tax each year, you will save $22,000 over 10 years.
Also, off-peak cars tend to have lower insurance premiums as well, so you enjoy some savings for your car insurance.
Off-Peak Cars Make More Financial Sense If You Buy A Cheaper Car
In our opinion, buying an off-peak car makes financial sense if you fit into these two criteria.
- You don’t need a car to drive to work daily. And both you and your spouse are working – which means no one is using the car to ferry the kids to school, or to run errands during weekdays from 7am to 7pm.
- You are getting an affordable car.
For example, if we buy the Perodua Bezza ($65,999) today, we will only pay $48,999 for an off-peak car. In addition, the road tax of the car will reduce from $584 to $84 per year. This is a substantial saving, especially if we don’t intend to use the car anyway during weekdays from 7am to 7pm.
Converting Your Normal Car To An Off-Peak Car
If you have already bought a normal car and would like to convert it to an off-peak car, you will get $1,100 in off-peak car cash rebate for every 6 months that the car stays at an off-peak car. For example, if you decide to convert your normal car to an off-peak car after 5 years of driving, you will receive a total of $11,000 in cash rebate over a period of 5 years.
In addition, you also enjoy savings of up to $500 each year on your annual road tax, subject to a minimum road tax payable of $70 per year.
If You Renew Your COE, The Only Benefit You Get Is Lower Road Tax
Should you decide to renew the COE for your off-peak car after 10 years, you should consider just converting it to a normal car.
This is because you don’t receive any additional COE rebate for keeping it as an off-peak car. This means you will pay the same COE price as any other normal car renewing its COE, but continue to have restricted driving hours. The only benefit you will continue to enjoy is the $500 road tax discount – which doesn’t make sense if you are paying $30,000 or more to renew your COE.