buying a van - a how-to / an experience

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taxico
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buying a van - a how-to / an experience

Post by taxico » Thu, 31 Mar 2022 9:31 am

so the wife and i are back in Singapore yet again! we'll likely be staying for a year this time, and as we needed a set of wheels, but car prices being wholly unreasonable after major losses on the crypto market and the world going down the drain, i decided to buy a micro van as it depreciates acceptably.

this was my process and experience. this post is entitled: Your Experience May Vary

PROLOGUE:

to start, you would need the company registration number (UEN) and name of the business (sole proprietorship/partnership/company - note that i'm using "business" in a different way that ACRA does) which you are using to buy a goods vehicle.

it is no longer possible to buy one in your personal name, licensed hawkers or registered farmers excepted - this will not apply to 99% of people living in SG.

next, you need to be "employed" by the business to legally drive the vehicle. imo, it doesn't matter what sort of employment it is.

also, please note that, LEGALLY, any/all passengers in the van also needs to be "employed" by the business. again, imo, it doesn't matter what sort of employment they are under.

(non-legally, i understand the traffic police and LTA officers could care less about people being ferried inside vans. they are more concerned about the people being ferried on lorries.)

next, you need a bunch of cash. you'll need some money for a deposit. some dealers may ask for $2,000. it's a flexible/negotiable amount. you'll pay the balance when you inspect the vehicle before collecting the keys.

insurance for a micro van with a market value of $15k is about $1,600 comprehensive. less for the other two types; third party insurance ran me just under $1,200.

for reference: i am in my early 40s, driving since early 2Ks, 0% NCD... ALL THAT DOES NOT MATTER because the insurance is in the business' name, and any person "employed" or authorized by the business can legally drive the vehicle.
Last edited by sundaymorningstaple on Thu, 31 Mar 2022 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: moved to correct forum & made a sticky out of it.
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Re: buying a van - a how-to / an experience

Post by taxico » Thu, 31 Mar 2022 9:32 am

SHOPPING:

i took a look on the popular "car mart" website to look what vehicles were available in my price range. then i went to research the vehicle i liked.

i headed back to the "car mart" website and did my sums based on the listed values for COE, ARF and registration date so i know the prices i could reasonably use as my offer.

this calculation is what only imbeciles would do. DON'T DO IT. because those figures and dates are wholly fictitous. the pictures are mostly of vans that were already sold. if you see one with a customized paint job, great head unit, and lovely seats, IT DOES NOT EXIST FOR SALE.

next i listed the dealers of the vehicle i was looking at, and found 2 in areas i frequented often.

(please understand that these vehicles are independently imported into singapore in random/small batches, and not by their marque's authorized dealer(s) in singapore...

as such, the specs and market values will differ from batch to batch, and perhaps even from vehicle to vehicle. if you'd done your home work, you would be able to identify the features you might be looking for.)

so on a saturday afternoon i went to the first place and inquired about paying an extra 95% of ARF to get the vehicle registered as a Goods-cum-Passenger Vehicle (GPV) and i was told this was impossible. more on this later.

despite having the exact spec and color i preferred, i high tailed out of the first dealer's "showroom" (a dingy shop in an industrial building) because they wanted $5,000 on top of the $55k sticker price because i was not taking a loan.

i then headed to the next location where i was quoted $2,800 for not taking a loan. i made an offer of $52,500 - the salesman made and took a few calls from his boss. apparently this was for the boss to see if he could obtain "suitable paperwork" to be able to accept my offer (more on this later).

eventually, my offer was accepted. quickly i found out Paynow doesn't work when i tried to transfer $1,000 to the dealership. i paid by good old NETS (eftpos) once i recalled my PIN...

they needed only my name, ID Number, contact number, business name and UEN. i was given a piece of paper, a stack of name cards for me to hand out to everyone i know on the salesman's behalf, and after advising a wait time of 2 weeks, i was promptly sent on my way.
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Re: buying a van - a how-to / an experience

Post by taxico » Thu, 31 Mar 2022 9:32 am

POST-SHOPPING:

5 days went by, and i wisely decided to message the salesman to "ask for a clear picture of the IU serial number to register for parking at my office building" when the IU has been installed - i was told the vehicle is still in queue for processing so no such picture is available.

a few days later, i was given an IU number but no picture of the sticker on the IU - progress, indeed?

i was also advised the vehicle can likely be collected the following saturday and i should make balance payment soon as my cheque would need to clear before they handed over the vehicle.

i thus requested that they obtain an insurance quote for me (there's no real point shopping for insurance yourself for these types of LGVs as the prices, imo, are very similar across all insurers).

and when the quote came in, i headed down and handed them a cheque. i collected a few slips of paper (receipt for cheque payment + insurance paperwork) and left again.

i realized this near blind method of handing them a cheque for over $50,000 was likely not the right thing to do, but i realized this only after the cheque changed hands. nonetheless, the van was there for me 5 days later. your result may vary.

COLLECTION:

the salesmen at these "independent dealers" don't really care about you once you've paid, but after signing 3 more documents, mine was kind enough to peel himself away from a potential customer to arrange for me to be let out the building without paying for parking, and i was graciously informed i'd been given $15 worth of gas as a courtesy.

so off i drove, in my purple micro van with 25km worth of delivery miles, and... The End!
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Re: buying a van - a how-to / an experience

Post by taxico » Thu, 31 Mar 2022 9:33 am

NOT THE END:

i. MPC aka maximum passenger capacity

ii. transfer of ownership (WHAT?!)

iii. annual inspections (rear seats, omg)

i.

ok. let's start with the easy one. my micro van came with rear split folding seats with isofix and rear seat belts.

before you can start carrying passengers in the rear (and you ARE allowed to carry them in the rear), you need to know a few things.

the front row of seats must be filled first. typically, vans carry 2 passengers in the front and micro vans carry 1.

but before you stuff any additional humans in the rear, you need an MPC label - round decals that state how many "PAX" can be stuffed in the rear.

the legal measurements are around 0.362 meter square of floor space per passenger. eventually this will be doubled statutorily. i suggest you treble it. you can go over, but you should not go under.

make a rough calculation and buy your sticker and slap it on the right side of the rear. legally, you would need a black and white one, because it's a van.

(the yellow labels are for use only lorries)

when in doubt about the front passenger capacity of your LGV, check your ONEMOTORING vehicle ownership digital log card, or the printed info on both sides of the LGV.

ii.

i was not be able to check it, because the vehicle is still not in my name after i drove off the lot.

so on the following monday, i had to message the salesman at 8am sharp to tell him to get the ball rolling. and roll for 2.5 hours he did.

at 10.30am i received a text from LTA stating i had an incoming vehicle transfer. to be able to complete the transfer, i would also need to provide my insurance policy's number, and LTA's message reliably informed me that the request to transfer can be revoked at any point by the current owner (not me).

after transferring the vehicle into my name, i became the official 2nd owner of the "so-called pre-registered brand new vehicle." more on this later.

for now, let's go back to talking about the rear seats.

iii.

although sold with rear seats and some times rear belts, LEGALLY, the bulk of vans in Singapore are inspected/approved with rear seats and rear seat belts removed.

so these seats need to be removed (or at least covered) during annual inspections - unlike cars, goods vehicles require annual inspection regardless of age.

i was advised the seat belts don't matter as much, and to mention they are not used when asked by the vehicle inspector.

many van owners make a custom removable plywood decking that covers the fold-down seats during inspection.

i intend to cover my folded-down seats with a felt blanket. i'll report back again on this next year if i am still around.
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Re: buying a van - a how-to / an experience

Post by taxico » Thu, 31 Mar 2022 9:33 am

EPILOGUE:

i. IU

ii. stress / expectations

iii. warranty / "free servicing"


i.

to properly use your new vehicle, you would need some sort of card for your IU to guzzle money out of. you may otherwise be trapped in the parking lot.

there are essentially 3 options available, an EZLINK bus card, a non-chipped NETS motoring card, and the classic chipped NETS cash card.

chipped cash cards are, these days, notoriously difficult to find. i wasn't able to find one. the benefits of it are: in old, privately owner car parks, they are the only accepted method of parking payment.

unchipped cash cards are frequently given away by NETS to increase/popularize its take-up. you can easily find them in convenience stores or gas stations.

both types of cash cards can be topped up via your NFC-enabled smartphone - if you pay a small extra fee.

they can be topped up, with no fees, via terminals found in almost all carparks.

many drivers keep a backup chipped card, but you'd have to be able to find one first.

the choice i opted for was the EZLINK card - i queued up at a bus interchange and got one from their clerk. these can be topped up at no extra cost on your smartphone, but must be physically present by your phone to do so.

there's also an "auto top-up" feature which doesn't require the card to be present. i like this convenience very much.

i understand that the EZLINK card has been incorporated into certain credit and debit cards which may already be in your wallet but i would not recommend this.

you may also feel compelled to spend a few more dollars buying an IU cover to indicate to potential theives that you have a cover over a stored value card in your vacant vehicle.

next, the height of most vans in singapore exceed that of most regular cars - my micro van measures in just under 1.9m which means carparks of 1.8m and 1.7m are not accessible to me.

if you're used to driving modern SUVs or MPVs in Singapore, you should be alright as they tend to be 1.8m - 1.9m in height. but if you're used to driving low slung cars in singapore like me, it can be quite stressful at the beginning - but wholly manageable.

ii.

there is definitely some stress to driving a goods vehicle in Singapore. firstly, you are limited to 70kmph. exceeding that speed by >10% may land you a speeding ticket.

driving on lane 1 (the right-most lane) on expressways is pretty much taboo, perhaps excepted only when there are congestions on lane(s) 2 or 3 due to road works.

this means you will have to spend a little more time on lanes 2 or 3. in the context of tiny Singapore, i find any time saved to be mostly marginal.

there is also a audible speed warning device which beeps incessantly when you are NEAR or past 70kmph (uncalibrated speedos - your experience may vary).

these can be fiddled with in a variety of quasi-legal ways to reduce the beeps. i wrapped mine up in a silicone keyboard cover, old underwear, and a few layers of saran wrap before stuffing it under the carpet. i'd likely have to remove it each time before the annual inspection.

legally, you need be able to sight the flashing LED bulb when you're speeding. non-legally, don't drive beyond 77kmph and you should be ok.

//

as previously mentioned, these vehicles are imported independently without the support of the local AD.

most simple maintenance can be done by the majority of "workshops" in singapore. parts needed but unavailable at local stockists, knock on wood, are also easily found in japan if you prefer to bring them in yourself.

just understand you will not be getting the same after-sales treatment similar to that of purchasing a brand new camry from Borneo Motor Company.

the vehicle's warranty and/or free servicing packages, while generally never used, would generally be honored as long as the company that sells you the vehicle stands.

without painting the entire industry with the same brush, car dealers have been known to fold overnight or after collecting payment, and/or the vehicle never rightfully transferred from whatever floor financing scheme it was on, to the hapless purchaser.

you could consider buying only from a company whose registration number starts with a correspondingly reassuring number like 1982, 1995 or 2001 (the year of incorporation).

your experience will, of course, vary.
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Re: buying a van - a how-to / an experience

Post by taxico » Thu, 31 Mar 2022 9:34 am

EPILOGUE... Part 2:

i. ETS/CVS/actual value

ii. GPV

iii. incorporation / ownership

i.

the pre-registered brand new goods vehicle peculiarity commonly found in Singapore is due to the "Early Turnover Scheme" whereby older goods vehicles get a transferrable rebate when its' owners scrap the more pollutive older model and buyes a newer replacement that emits less fumes.

the ETS formula bored me but suffice to say the rebate amount varies from vehicle to vehicle.

for this reason, the car dealership had to look for possible candidates before accepting my offer. and for the same reason, my vehicle had to be first owned by the business which was scrapping an older vehicle.

new vehicles in singapore are also entitled to another rebate depending on its exact emissions. either you get 10k upfront, 30k split across a few years, or none at all. the name of this rebate is CVS (i think - i forgot what it's called).

my micro van was entitled to a CVS rebate of 10k.

using it as an example, while i have paid over 50k for the vehicle, the scrap value is much, much lower.

officially, although COE for goods vehicles was trending at around $45,000 when i purchsed the van, after the ETS and CVS rebates above, the COE's value shrank to around $30k.

as an aside, unlike private cars, there is a 20-year statutory lifespan for all goods vehicles in singapore.

accordingly, make sure you are aware of the vehicle's residual value before committing to buy a van.

ii.

i mentioned a desire to purcase a GPV above, an odd classification of Goods-cum-Passenger Vehicles. GPVs apply only to vans, station wagons, and twin cab pick-up trucks.

these are registered as goods vehicles which can legally carry passengers without the "employee" requirement - similar to a passenger car.

this privilege comes at the price of an additional 100% fee of the market value of the vehicle, which is similar to that of a passenger car (a non-GPV goods vehicle only pays an extra 5% of its value).

across the lifetime of a cheap vehicle, this sum of money is insignificant, but GPVs are no longer commonly sold in singapore likely due to demand.

it would have been possible for me to purchase my micro van as a GPV, but it would need to be declared as such during some stage of the importation process; likely during "pre-clearance" of the vehicle when the importer is trying to obtain a VITAS number for it.

accordingly, this would then require a new order to be indented from japan, which i did not have the time/patience for as independently imported vehicles have a tendency to take a much longer time to arrive and get registered in SG. this is estimated to be between 4-7 months in 2022.

your experience may vary.

iii.

i don't profess to follow how an expat can get employed by a business for the sole purpose of using a goods vehicle as a form of transport.

but i know for a fact there exists creative ways to legally get around these regulations/laws.

and, i further confirm that a commercial vehicle owned by a business can be legally assigned for use by another party or another business.

my opinions above about "forms of employment" exists insofar as there are indeed many forms of employment, including casual and/or part time employment, or even unpaid employment.

this issue of employment or ownership of goods vehicles by expats is beyond the remit of this post, but you are free to discuss this further in this thread if you so wish.


//

all in all, i am mostly satisfied with my purchase.

i should have been more careful with my payment, and i should have inspected the van carefully before driving off (i literally declined to have my photo taken, jumped in and drove off), because there were some areas inside which had been dirtied and very difficult to clean.

but realistically, this is a very cheap vehicle.

i've been inconvenienced by certain car parks i've had to drive away from but most car park height information can be found on the internet, and such limits are clearly sign posted at the entrance of car parks - i just drive very slowly until i see it!

on the other hand, i've been informed that i am allowed to park without fear at all loading/unloading lots, including those at malls. some of these lots are outside the payment gantries for the drivers' convenience.

i would add that goods vehicles are in a somewhat grey area when it comes to driving in Malaysia. at present i know of no restrictions by Singapore on goods vehicles going up north.

for the Malaysian transport agency however, my understanding is that approvals and permits need to be obtained in advance when used for transporting goods across the causeway. this application needs to be made by a malaysian business.

i also understand that goods vehicles have been driven without such permits when used for leisure purposes (but with the pre-requisite malaysian speed limit label applied). this doesn't bother me as i do not foresee myself using my van outside of Singapore.

do i wish i were driving something faster and fancier? yes. of course!

but depreciation at $450/month and fuel+wear/tear of ~20c/km is pretty hard to beat when i am clocking cloe to 2,000km/month as i run my errands and eat out rain or shine.

your experience may vary!

The End! (for real this time)
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Re: buying a van - a how-to / an experience

Post by taxico » Thu, 31 Mar 2022 9:53 am

ooops. i've been away for too long. there's now a sub-form for buying/selling/importing cars. please move this if mods think it is appropriate to do so. thanks!
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Re: buying a van - a how-to / an experience

Post by sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 31 Mar 2022 4:25 pm

Woah! Welcome back, dude. Been a fair while. But you're back with a vengeance. Awesome post/thread. Have moved it and made a sticky out of it. I looked at a microvan a couple of years ago but in the end said the heck with it. Was looking at the Fiat but just couldn't bring myself to buy a continental car and a froggy one to boot. Now retired, no need for any vehicle. Excellent post and welcome back!
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Re: buying a van - a how-to / an experience

Post by Myasis Dragon » Wed, 13 Apr 2022 11:22 am

Great writeup. I had to size my motorcycle for the pax sticker as well.

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Re: buying a van - a how-to / an experience

Post by PNGMK » Wed, 13 Apr 2022 11:45 am

You can chipped cash cards at NETS on 351 Braddel Rd (the NETS HQ). 5 mins - easy to do. I bought one this morning. They may be the last place they are available. Which is stupid considering some older carparks need them.
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Re: buying a van - a how-to / an experience

Post by tiktok » Wed, 13 Apr 2022 1:51 pm

Very interesting @taxico. In my case I bought a 10 year old car with 5 year COE for 25k. Works out to about 420/month. Is that a better deal or what am I missing?
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