Singapore’s Most Popular Car Brands of 2021

Derryn Wong

Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW lead, but a shock debut from Tesla. We analyse the Top 10 car brands of Singapore in 2021

Graphic by Caraphina Taib

SINGAPORE – The best-selling car brands for Singapore last year, 2021, were Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW. No colossal eye-opener there, but as usual, there’s plenty of rumbling beneath the surface as we take a deeper dive into the Top 10.

The total registration figures are in, and here are the top car brands for Singapore in 2021. As always, our figures are derived directly from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and do not discriminate between official sales and parallel imports.

If you want to compare how the brands did at the half-way mark of 2021, read our mid-year sales analysis story. 

2021’s Car Market : The Background

The first thing to know as a background to 2021’s sales figures is that we didn’t see a dramatic shrinking in overall passenger car sales. We’ve expected one for some time, due to the nature of Singapore’s Certificate of Entitlement (COE) system. As the majority of cars on the roads are less than five years old or nowhere near the 10-year mark, we won’t see many deregistrations, and hence, we expected a smaller COE quota, which leads to a smaller new car market. 

But 2021 saw a chunk of COEs held over from 2020’s Circuit Breaker, so the total car sales in 2021 was 45,442, not a huge difference from 2020’s 44,465, but still a big step down from 2019’s 72,344, not to mention 2017’s 91,922. So keep that in mind when looking at the relative sales figures and market share percentages between 2020 and 2021. The expectation for 2022 is that cheapskates might help offset the COE quota plunge too. 

Towards the end of 2021, the dreaded spectre we have all been waiting for finally revealed itself once more, with shrinking COE quotas driving prices toward multi-year highs – although this time around Category A has remained, thankfully, quite a bit less than Category B. 

There’s also one more spin to take into account: Some brands may have taken plenty of orders, but have been unable to fulfill all of them in 2021 itself due to the chip shortage and production delays

Toyota On Top

2021 Toyota Harrier Hybrid Singapore
Toyota’s Harrier Hybrid has made a big impact by being a well-priced hybrid and a suavely-styled SUV

The Japanese carmaker was once again the unanimous leader of the market, and it even grew its market lead in the last six months of 2021, going from 20.06 percent to 21.21 percent – again, just over one in five cars sold here last year was a Toyota. 

Unlike most of the top 10 brands, Toyota was able to improve its sales from 2020, and in a significant proportion as well, going from 7,704 units registered to 9,633 units, an increase of 

25 percent. In the process it boosted its market share 3.9 points, from 17.3 percent to 21.2 percent, a feat no other brand was able to match – even the shock outsider (more below)*. 

“We are thrilled that Toyota has achieved such a stellar performance amidst challenging times. This great honour is testament to the commitment of our team who pursue on a daily basis our mission to build an inclusive and sustainable ecosystem,” said Jasmmine Wong, Inchcape CEO for Greater China & Singapore. Inchcape is the parent company of Borneo Motors which is the authorised Toyota dealer for Singapore. 

Jasmmine Wong, Inchcape CEO for Greater China & Singapore

As we mentioned in our analysis of the first six months’ results for 2021, Toyota’s exceptionally on-trend in the market with a range of SUVs and hybrids, both trends which have really taken off in the past couple of years. The Yaris Cross and Harrier (which are hybrid SUVs) have drawn major buyer interest – our Top 10 Reviews and Most Watched Videos reflect as much. Another hybrid that caused waves was the Toyota Camry Hybrid sedan whose VES benefits made it one of the least expensive cars in the large sedan segment. 

Most of the cars Toyota sold here in 2021 were hybrids. It sold 5,557 electrified cars in 2021, or 58 percent of its 9,366 total registrations. All of these were petrol-electric hybrids, since Toyota, like most Japanese brands, has yet to bring full electric cars to market. 

But with full electric cars still growing but nowhere near a dominant trend, at this early stage it hasn’t hurt the brand at all. Rather the opposite, because the updated VES has made hybrid cars effectively level in price – or even cheaper – than pure gasoline versions. For 2022, we could see the brand’s first full-electric car, the BZ4X, here in Singapore but at the moment there is no confirmation of it for 2022.

*Lexus sales are still folded into Toyota’s numbers for some strange reason, and we figure Lexus sold at least 600 cars last year.

Sales performance: 9/10
Electrification score: 6/10

Electron Star

The big Merc thing in 2021 was the big Merc luxury limo – the new S-Class

If Toyota in first is no surprise, Mercedes-Benz is even less of a shock in second place on the charts, as it replicates not only its 2021 half-mark result, but also 2020’s rankings. As we’ve seen from those results, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz are the most popular brands here by some margin to the rest of the Top 10 – though as you’ll read next, the final podium finisher has gotten much closer.

Although it was the only podium finisher to sell fewer cars in 2021 than 2020, once again Mercedes-Benz is the top-selling luxury car brand in Singapore. 

“We are pleased that Mercedes-Benz continues to be one of Singapore’s most-loved luxury brands. The fact that we’ve enjoyed continued success in the automotive sector for years now is testament to the extent of trust that Singaporean consumers place in our brand, and our products,” Mr Claudius Steinhoff, President and CEO of Daimler South East Asia/Mercedes-Benz Singapore’.

2021 Mercedes-EQ EQC Singapore
2021 Mercedes-EQ EQC was Merc’s first full EV in Singapore we review it here!

Overall sales dropped 140 units from 6,561 to 6,421, with a reduction of market share of just half a point. 

2021 saw Mercedes-Benz launch more than a few vehicles, the most significant of which was the new-gen of its flagship S-Class, and the updated large sedan E-Class. While those are important models for the brand, they’re not exactly volume sellers like the A-Class and GLA/GLB (launched in 2020), which could account for the relatively flat sales the brand saw. But it’s a testament to expectations of the three-pointed star that no increase in sales is seen as a disappointment. 

One area where Mercedes stood out, and where its glitzy reputation shows, is coupes. It sold 763 coupes/convertibles in 2021, making it far and away the largest purveyor of two-doored cars. BMW was second with 263, and Porsche third with 198.

Mr Claudius Steinhoff, President and CEO of Daimler South East Asia/Mercedes-Benz Singapore’ speaking at EV Weekend 2021

Mercedes-Benz also upped the electric ante, selling 1,103 electrified passenger cars here, or 17 percent of its 6,421 tally. “The growing portfolio of electrified cars and its sales are points of encouragement for us, especially since the infrastructure for electric cars is still in its nascent stages in Singapore,” said Mr Steinhoff.

EV Weekend 2021: Mercedes-Benz’s acceleration toward EVs is taking off in Singapore

On the electric front, Mercedes kicked off its Mercedes-EQ efforts with the electric SUVs, the EQA and EQC, the latter being the brand’s first fully electric car here. Both those cars were serious flag-wavers for Mercedes-EQ here, and they did as much at Singapore’s first and largest showcase of electric vehicles, EV Weekend. But we expect most of Merc’s 1,103 electrified registrations to have been of its mild-hybrid cars including the C-Class, E-Class, and S-Class.

And while it doesn’t have as many PHEVs as BMW does, Mercedes is one of the few brands that allow customers to run the gamut from mild hybrid to plug-in hybrid, and then to full electric power, which accounts for its good Electrification Score.

Sales performance: 7/10
Electrification score: 7/10

Page 2: BMW’s top in electrification, ‘Elongated’ shock, and knife fights down the order

Pages: 1 2


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About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's former chief editor was previously the editor for Top Gear Singapore, and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he is the Chief Slave of two cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong

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