In this month's analysis advice, we take a look at how LTA will include dyno as part of the roadworthiness test required for road tax renewal
August 2014 Monthly Analysis: LTA to implement dyno as part of roadworthy test PHOTO: sgCarMart.com

Premium continental car brands have gained popularity in the local market in recent years, with Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volkswagen taking up a significant piece of the local automotive pie. Especially with a comprehensive range of engine options, models from these premium marques find it easy to compete with Korean and Japanese brands in all COE categories.

In a bid to level the playing field for mass market cars, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has put in place a tweak for Cat A COE - on top of being smaller than 1.6-litre in capacity, cars must not have more than 130bhp to fall into the small car COE category.

And it seems that LTA is determined to make it work. In view of recent cars that can be easily tuned up to provide more horsepower, LTA is making it mandatory for cars to undergo a dynamometer test before they are approved for sales in Singapore. As explained by the authority, this is to verify the actual power output of each model against what is claimed by their manufacturer.

The additional clause attracted much controversies from industry players, especially when LTA prompts a delay of four months, up from the current four weeks, for each car to be homologated. This, no doubt, spells additional costs for car dealers.

Moreover, automakers have brought up a very strong point. Singapore, being a tiny dot on the world's map, has a very small domestic market. It is, hence, not viable for them to 'alter' their models to suit the local market.

As such, the process of testing brand new cars which are straight out from their factories seems redundant.

What we reckon the authority will possibly do is to include the dynamometer test as part of the bi-annual roadworthiness test that cars need to undergo before their road tax can be renewed.

As these tests are carried out throughout the entire lifespan of the vehicle, it will serve as a greater deterrence for motorists who wants to purchase a Cat A car, and have it tuned to performance levels of bigger Cat B models afterwards.

This move will also be in line with the objective of clamping down illegal car modifications. While aesthetic modifications do nothing more than dolling up the looks of the car, improper engine modifications can pose real threat to the cars' occupants and to other road users.

In addition, roadworthiness tests are currently conducted by third party contractors, such as STA and VICOM. Outsourcing dynamometer tests will make more financial sense for LTA too, as it can do without the maintenance of the equipment.

For LTA, it is almost a win-win situation.