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Off-Peak Cars. Should you get one?



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What is an off-peak car?

Off-peak cars, or red plates, were introduced in 1994 to help cut the rising costs of motoring and to make it more affordable to own a car. It also meant easing traffic congestion during peak hours. Cars under the scheme can’t be driven from 7am to 7pm weekdays, among other restrictions. If you want to drive outside restricted hours then you have to buy a day pass or E Day Licence at $20.

What is the difference between an Off-Peak-Car (OPC) Revised-Off-Peak-Car (ROPC) and Weekend Car (WEC)?

Technically, the Off-Peak-Car scheme no longer exists as it has been replaced with the Revised-Off-Peak-Car scheme. But the scheme is still usually referred to as off-peak. The main difference between the three schemes including Weekend Cars is the number and times of restricted hours you can use your car.

What are the advantages of an Off-Peak-Car?
  • If you register your new car under the updated or Revised OPC (ROPC) scheme you get a rebate of $17,000. You also get a $500 discount on annual road tax.
  • If you convert your normal car to off-peak the rebates are a little different.  You receive a cash rebate of $1,100 every six months together with the usual $500 flat discount on annual tax.
  • Another incentive is that car insurance tends to be cheaper. For instance Budget Direct Insurance offers a ? discount on Off-Peak Cars.
Is it worth getting an Off-Peak-Car?
  • The scheme certainly becomes more attractive when Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices are factored in. When COE prices are low the $17,000 rebate starts to look more viable. The rebate then really helps to offset the cost of your COE and registration fees when buying a new car.
  • But when COE prices are more than $70,000 you still have to fork out more than $100K for a car you couldn’t use regularly! But if COE prices drop, OPC cars definitely become a more appealing option.
What else should you factor in?

Aside from the cost, you can also factor in the practical aspect of how you use your car. For instance, you’ve decided you don’t want to drive to work because of the congestion and you can get to your workplace faster on the MRT or bus. All valid points given there is heavier traffic on the roads and an increasing number of MRT stations springing up.

You might also want to avoid ERP charges and high parking fees. Your main usage might also be, for instance, ferrying the kids around on weekends.

Given the falling costs of COE and our improved public transport options, driving an off-peak car might not be a bad option if you’re very keen to have a car and not pay the earth for it. We’re thinking young drivers and people who work from home. There is also a growing trend of second-hand car buyers who are converting normal cars to off-peak to enjoy the rebate and discount and to cut down on motoring costs.

You asked, we answered.

Q. Are there different types of off-peak car schemes?

A. There are 3 types of off-peak car schemes — Weekend Car (WEC), Off-Peak Car (OPC) and Revised Off-Peak Car (ROPC). Currently, cars can only be registered as a ROPC or be converted to the ROPC scheme. Cars under the WEC Scheme and OPC scheme will remain in their schemes unless they are converted to the ROPC scheme.

One of the main differences among the schemes is the restriction on usage hours.

Q. How do you register for a new off-peak car?

A. It is quite an easy process to register for a new ROPC.

* You will need to secure a Certificate of Entitlement under one of the appropriate categories:

* You can bid for a preferred Vehicle Registration Number (VRN) from the pool of  available numbers or you can use a VRN you have retained for your car.

  • Inform your car dealer that you wish to register your car under the ROPC scheme. Remember to let your car dealer know if you have bid for a Vehicle Registration Number, or if you wish to use one you retained for your car.
  • Once your dealer has registered your car under the ROPC scheme, you have 7 calendar days to seal your number plates at any LTA-Authorised Inspection Centre. The background colour of your number plates will be red with white lettering.

Q. How do I renew the COE for my off-peak car?

A. If you do not renew your COE before it expires, your car will be automatically deregistered and you must dispose of it within 1 month of the deregistration date. When you renew your COE, your off-peak car will remain under the same scheme, unless you choose to convert it to another scheme.

Q. What is an Electronic Day Licence (E-Day Licence)?

 A. A Valid Day Licence is required when an OPC is driven on the roads during restricted hours.

Each e-Day Licence costs S$20 and you must indicate a usage date when buying an e-Day Licence.

It is an offence to use an OPC outside restricted hours without a valid e-Day Licence. You can face a fine up to S$5,000 and up to $10,000 for a second or subsequent conviction.

You can buy an e-Day Licence up to 2 weeks in advance. If you change your mind about using it, you can cancel or update the usage date before 7am on the specified date of use.

Q. What happens if I drive during restricted hours without an E-Day Licence?

A. You have until 11.59 pm the next day to buy an e-Day Licence. If you miss this deadline, you have 3 more days to declare to LTA and you have to pay a fee of $30. 

Q. How do I convert my off-peak car to a normal car?

A. You can convert your car to the Normal Car Scheme online:

  • Online via SingPass/CorpPass 2FA (available from 6am to midnight daily)

Requirements

  • Payment of S$100 administrative fee
  • Payment of road tax under the Normal Car Scheme
  • Top-up the unused upfront rebate (if applicable)
  • Insurance coverage for the new road tax period
  • Vehicle Inspection (if applicable)

Budget Direct Insurance  

No-Nonsense, money saving cover for your car

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