2018 Vehicle Emission Scheme (VES) drives up the Prius price by $30,000

Oneshift Editorial Team
22 Jan 2018
 

The pinnacle of green technology having slapped with a price jump is rather weird. Very interestingly, as car-lovers, it is a good time to rejoice as the most impacted cars are the taxi favourites – Prius, Honda Vezel, Hyundai Elantra, etc. There were too many on the roads anyway.

Mr Bean had a thing against the 3-wheeled Reliant Robin. Likewise, the hosts of Grand Tour displayed much hatred towards the Toyota Prius for lacking driving pleasure. Yet the taxi-favourite once enjoyed the highest rebate of $30,000 under the top A1 band of the Carbon Emissions-Based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS). With the LTA having “Mr.Bean-ed” the Prius this year, the once sub $130k hybrid currently ends up in the same pricing category of cars such as the Volvo V60 and Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 Highline.

This also begs the side question – was the Prius really worth almost $160,000 all along?

Why did the Prius lose the $30,000 rebate?

Under the new VES, other tail-pipe emissions such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon, nitrous oxides and other particulate matter are measured and the band is allotted based on the worst performing emission.

 
Full details here: //www.nea.gov.sg/corporate-functions/newsroom/news-releases/new-vehicular-emissions-label-from-1-january-2018

Means the Prius is actually bad?

The Prius has and will always be a pinnacle of hybrid technology and fuel efficiency champion. Toyota was once a cheating champion in the 1995 World Rally Championship series with a very clever turbo restrictor gate in the Toyota Celica GT-4. More recently Volkswagen owned up to a software in the cars that can detect when they undergo emissions testing and emit far less than they actually do.

Today however, automakers embrace honesty and have resorted to massive recalls and buy backs to apologize to customers for cheating in the past. Suddenly the Prius being labelled as pollutive is probably part of Toyota’s proactive move to declare any emission findings even if it means losing that hefty rebate.

Therefore, it is not all that bad. It is simply the price of honesty. Despite how green it is, the 1.8L engine is pretty big and bound to produce more of other emissions.

Is the VES stupid?

I’d be thankful we have the VES actually.

The emission readings are also based on the old 1997 UN ECE R101 testing. There is a more stringent test methodology dubbed Real Driving Emissions Test (RDE) that rolled out on 1 September 2017 in Europe. If LTA were to embrace RDE emission readings and couple with VES, there’s a lot more surcharge to pay and a lot more cars will be affected. Thankfully we still have 2 years before any revision to implement stricter measurement methodologies.

The VES band also does not take PM readings into account for new vehicles registered between Jan 1 till end of June 2018 to give dealers more time to submit their PM readings. Perhaps we can expect another shake-up in with certain cars suddenly being more expensive then.

Quick. Start buying.

What other models show big differences?

While the Prius clearly stood out, the Honda Vezel Hybrid is now $20,000 more pricey and the Hyundai Elantra has a $10,000 surcharge. Most commonly sold cars lose about $5000 in rebate that they previously enjoyed.

A preliminary list is available on NEA’s website as follows:

Look on the bright side

The VES is obviously a subject of groans and complaints. The real intention is to shift customers to choose less pollutive vehicles and prepare Singapore for a zero-emissions future (there was a revision for electric vehicles but that’s another topic). However, the decision to penalise based on most pollutive emission is kind of questionable, which explains the 2-year trial period for the VES.

Meanwhile, buyers have adopted a wait-and-see strategy, and hence the COE drop for the moment... So just go ahead with buying the car you wish to buy. But for those willing to give it a wait, if the market sentiment does remain the same, we would likely see a drop in car prices.


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