Million-dollar car sales fall in 2023 for second year in a row

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SINGAPORE - Nearly 300 cars with price tags of at least $1 million were registered in Singapore in 2023, marking a drop in registrations for two consecutive years after five years of growth.

The 296 units from six brands registered in 2023 were 15.4 per cent lower than the 350 units logged in 2022, and 17.8 per cent lower than the record 360 units registered in 2021.

The number includes cars registered by authorised distributors and parallel importers.

Motor dealers attributed the drop to the higher tax rate for cars announced in Budget 2023, economic uncertainty and buyers’ concerns about being too conspicuous with high-value purchases amid a massive money laundering case that surfaced in 2023.

Many dealers believe registrations will not go up significantly in 2024.

Some motor dealers said the news of the anti-money laundering blitz in August 2023 has dampened customers’ appetite for luxury cars.

At least 10 foreigners have been arrested in Singapore’s largest anti-money laundering operation, with assets seized worth more than $3 billion. These assets include 77 vehicles.

Dealers, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said some customers want to avoid the scrutiny that may come with such high-value purchases.

One dealer said: “It doesn’t matter whether they are in so-called legitimate businesses or not. These people just want to play it safe and not get into any trouble.”

Even so, it is the hefty tax hikes announced in 2023 that dealers said made the biggest impact.

At Budget 2023, the vehicle tax rate at the highest tier was cranked up to 320 per cent, from 220 per cent. This applies t...

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