One of the most distinguishable characteristics of a country is the cars on the road. It says so much about the population and mindset of nation when you see the type of cars that its citizens buy… even if that country is purportedly moving to a car-lite society (facilitated by those who are drivers, ironically).

So these are the most iconic cars on the Singapore roads. They’ve been a part of our everyday life so much so that we’ve taken them for granted. But what do we really know about the vehicles we see on a daily basis? Here are some nifty facts about the most iconic vehicles on the road.

1. Toyota Altis

Shiny. Credit: Uber/Grab Rental Facebook Page

Shiny. Credit: Uber/Grab Rental Facebook Page

Toyota was the best-selling car brand for 2015 and 2016 combined, moving close to 30,000 units over two years. While that’s still less than the COE price in dollars, it’s still an impressive amount – no doubt due to the popularity of the Toyota Altis. In second place for 2016 is the Honda Civic, but it doesn’t even come close when you consider 2015 and 2016 combined, but there’s no doubting the ubiquity of the Toyota Altis.

Its familiar curves make it one of the most recognisable sights on the road (and also the ideal choice of car to commit a crime with since there are so many of them out there). And of course, it’s testament to the fact that Singaporeans love our Japanese cars, which are more compact (and most importantly, cheaper to buy and to maintain) than intercontinental cars.

2. Red Rhino

Bigger than a rhino. Credit: Singapore Civil Defence Force Facebook Page

Bigger than a rhino. Credit: Singapore Civil Defence Force Facebook Page

SCDF’s Red Rhino is formally know as an LFAV (Light Fire Attack Vehicle). While it’s pretty distinctive since it’s a fire-fighting vehicle that’s not a truck, it’s also a harbinger of disaster since it means a fire might be just around the corner. The Red Rhino has seen five different iterations from its debut in 2000, with improvements to its lightness and compactness, so that it can fit into tinier spaces.

It’s a lot more graceful than a rhino though. Maybe they should change the name to the Red Robin now? The compactness of the Red Rhino speaks to our land scarcity (since it has to fit into small spaces that are a result of our urban planning). It could probably fit in a HDB flat, but let’s hope it never has to.

3. Blue Comfort Taxis

Why don't our roads look like this when we need a taxi? Credit: People's Association Youth Movement (PAYM) Facebook Page

Why don’t our roads look like this when we need a taxi? Credit: People’s Association Youth Movement (PAYM) Facebook Page

Love them or hate them, most people automatically think of blue Comfort cabs when you mention the word “taxi” in Singapore. They’ve gone through many makes and models, with the iconic Toyota Crowns of the 90s replaced mostly by Hyundai Sonatas (unless you’re looking at limousine cabs) today. The last batch of Toyota Crowns were scrapped in 2014, meaning it’s been a good two years since we last saw those cars on the road.

And with Grab and Uber now encroaching on their share of the market, it may mean fewer and fewer taxis in time to come. But before that happens, the familiar blue car will always be a reminder of how our taxi network is actually pretty good, compared to other countries.

4. Sembcorp garbage and recycling trucks

Waste not, want not. Credit: Xinchong Lin Facebook Page

Waste not, want not. Credit: Xinchong Lin Facebook Page

You might not be able to spot the difference easily since Sembcorp garbage and recycling trucks look pretty similar, but yes, there’re not the same! Look for the recycling symbol to identify recycling trucks. That’s why they’re not garbage/recycling trucks, but garbage and recycling trucks.

Much hullabaloo came about when a member of the public thought that recycled materials were going into a garbage truck. In any case, the Sembcorp garbage truck is a fixture precisely because it’s so regular and efficient. Singapore prides itself on being one of the cleanest countries in the world, and that cleanliness extends all the way to into our homes (or rather, rubbish chutes).

5. Green buses

We're not just clean, we're green too. Credit: Ministry of Transport, Singapore

We’re not just clean, we’re green too. Credit: Ministry of Transport, Singapore

If you were confused by the sudden appearance of green buses last year, maybe it’s because you didn’t vote in Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) Colour Your Buses campaign. LTA gave two options for Singaporeans to decide on what colour they wanted buses to be – “Lush Green” or “Bright Red”. Green because we’re a clean and green nation, and red because it’s our national colours.

Green edged out red by a small margin (144 votes out of 57,075 votes cast, it’s a 0.2% difference for all you Maths nerds out there), resulting in green buses being birthed upon our roads. We’ve been having red buses since 1973, when SBS Transit was formed, so it’s been over 40 years of red buses on the road! Before that, buses came in all sorts of different colours.

Who knew that Singaporeans cared so much about our reputation as a green country?

Monster Trucks. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Monster Trucks. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

As distinctive as our Singapore vehicles might be, nothing quite beats the sight of monster truck controlled by an alien life form. Monster Trucks sees a literal truck that is a monster teaming up with Tripp (Lucas Till) to go on the ultimate road trip. Will they be able to leave without anyone spotting them?

Catch Monster Trucks to find out!


Credits: Uber/Grab Rental Facebook Page, Singapore Civil Defense Force Facebook Page, People’s Association Youth Movement (PAYM) Facebook Page, Xinchong Lin Facebook Page, Ministry of Transport, Singapore Facebook PageGolden Village Cinemas