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Off-peak luxe cars a matter of face

Just saw this article on Strait Times. Seriously I also believe that individuals who buy luxury and expensive cars would not want to go for OPC.  If I'm spending a good $200k, I would rather get a normal car with the convenience. The only exception is when it's a vintage car that I'm not going to drive often
Off-peak luxe cars a matter of face
February 18, 2009 Wednesday, 04:14 PM

Christopher Tan on why well-heeled folks will not want to be seen in an OPC.


TRANSPORT Minister Raymond Lim’s plan to make off-peak cars (OPCs) more attractive sounds like a good one.

Essentially, it is three-pronged. He is looking to see if folks who convert their normal cars to OPCs could be granted cash rebates. Currently, those who convert can realise their tax savings only at the end of the car’s lifespan.

Secondly, he is looking to replace the cumbersome paper coupon day licence with an electronic payment system. This will make it more hassle-free for OPC owners as and when they need to use the car outside prescribed hours.

Finally, Mr Lim is considering extending the hours of free use, possibly on Saturdays.

With these initiatives, the Government hopes that more people will switch to OPCs, thus putting less pressure on road space during peak periods.

But will there be many more converts?

A street poll conducted by The Straits Times revealed that few are willing to make the switch. Out of 50 car owners surveyed, only three said they would go for it.

The most common reasons: I need my car at all hours of the day; and the usage hours of OPCs are too restrictive.

A common refrain from OPC owners which the poll did not unearth has to do with the flat $20 day coupon that red-plated car owners need to buy should they use the car outside the 7am-7pm timeframe on weekdays. On Saturdays, OPCs can be used free of charge only after 3pm.

Why can’t it be a variable charge, instead of a flat charge, they ask.

It is a valid question. If the OPC scheme is to be made more successful, perhaps it should be considered too.

But there is a limit as to what the Government can do to make OPCs more attractive. Especially to more well-off individuals who see their car as a status symbol first, and a mode of transport second.

Which explains why premium cars make up only a small percentage of OPCs here – even though their numbers have grown in the last two years.

One owner of an off-peak Lexus had this to say: "There is a stigma attached to luxury OPCs. Once, some teenagers made a not-so-nice comment while walking by my red-plated car. And on the road, we get extra stares."

It is a genuine "concern." Perhaps, this is why Mercedes-Benz dealer Cycle & Carriage seems reluctant to talk about its OPC customers.

"We sell very few off-peak cars," a manager once said defensively.

But of course. No self-respecting towkay would want to be caught "red-plated", would he?

When it comes to something as emotive as cars, logic often does not rule. Even though it makes perfect sense to have an off-peak Porsche for the weekend, and commute by train on weekdays.

So, there will continue to be well-heeled folks who are quite happy to park their fancy rides for 10 hours a day in the city. They will also incur ERP charges which they will then gripe about at cocktalils, curse whenever they are caught in a traffic jam, and turn their noses up whenever they pass an OPC.

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