To avoid the high cost of car ownership Singaporeans are gigging as Uber drivers with rented cars

Wheels in motion.
Wheels in motion.
Image: Reuters/Edgar Su
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Singapore is one of the most expensive places in the world to own a car, thanks to government fees and restrictions designed to reduce congestion and encourage the use of public transportation. But if you don’t mind being an occasional Uber driver, you can get around this problem by renting a car and using your Uber proceeds to cover the costs.

According to Bloomberg, that’s exactly what some drivers in the highly-regulated city-state are doing. The publication interviewed a former property agent who drives for Uber for four hours a day at most using a rented Toyota Corolla. That’s enough to cover the cost of the rental, and he then has a car for his own use. A retired police officer does a similar thing, driving three to four hours daily for six days a week. He rents a Honda Vezel for about $350 per week, from a car rental company that also happens to be an Uber subsidiary.

A Honda Vezel costs more than $70,000 in Singapore, nearly quadruple what it would sell for in the United States. And that’s just the purchase price. Drivers must also obtain a “Certificate of Entitlement” permit—given out through auctions and good for 10 years—that can cost over $35,000, even for a small vehicle. If demand is high, the certificate can cost more than a car.

Then there’s the electronic road pricing system, which automatically charges drivers “congestion pricing” for entering crowded areas at peak times.

Even the gas is overpriced in Singapore. The property agent fills up in neighboring Malaysia, where it’s much cheaper. On weekends he likes to tool around with his family in the more spacious nation across the border—in his rented car, of course.