Singapore wants to phase out vehicles with gasoline or internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2040.
As part of the Land Transport Authority's pilot program for a car sharing initiative for electric vehicles at national level, the electric car sharing service BlueSG was launched in 2017.
BlueSG, a subsidiary of the Bolloré Group, will install 2,000 BlueSG charging stations at 500 locations by the end of this year.
The government's dual goal is to reduce the number of private cars on the road and to propose an alternative transport model for its citizens in addition to public transport.
To become a nationwide electric mobility ecosystem, Singapore has also pushed forward shared electric scooters, electric taxis and even driverless electric buses, which is common in some parts of the city.
So we take a look at how the electric car initiative fared in Singapore.
The electric car landscape in Singapore
With its compact size, tidy streets, technological know-how and ambitions for sustainable transport, Singapore is a must for sellers and drivers of electric cars.
In December 2017, BlueSG started with 80 vehicles and 32 stations. The car sharing program attracted immediate public interest with 2,000 members who signed up for the service prior to launch.
They also launched two new subscription plans last December and, according to BlueSG, the plans have been "successful". In the same month of last year, they added more charging stations to their network and increased the number to 239.
There are currently 345 charging stations with 1,371 charging stations across the island in public housing estates, industrial buildings, shopping malls, at Changi Airport, in Sentosa and in the city center.
On Monday (August 10th), BlueSG announced that despite a decline in membership and rentals during the breaker period, one million vehicles had been rented.
Image credit: BlueSG
BlueSG now has around 80,000 subscribers who pay from S $ 8 per month.
Currently, the vehicle fleet has grown to 667 and they are rented approximately 100,000 times a month, with 4,000 subscriptions being added every month.
Despite BlueSG's strong growth, another car sharing service, Smove, has left the Singapore market and gone into liquidation.
When Smove first launched in Singapore in 2013, the company only had a small fleet of six electric cars, covering a small area across the island.
Smove started with electric vehicles, but had to forcibly abandon this idea due to the inadequate EV infrastructure in Singapore.
Insufficient EV infrastructure in Singapore
Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said the first step in meeting the 2040 target of phasing out gasoline vehicles is to ensure adequate charging infrastructure for EV owners.
BlueSG is well on its way to complete the establishment of 500 charging stations in Singapore by the end of 2020.
Photo credit: Budget Direct Insurance
Shell, which acquired EV infrastructure company Greenlots, has launched 10 EV chargers at select stations across Singapore. These chargers use the strategic locations of Shell's 57 gas stations.
The SP Group intends to install 1,000 EV charging points by 2020, including 250 direct charging stations with a capacity of 50 kilowatts, with which an EV can be fully charged within 30 minutes.
Photo credit: SP Group
So far, most points use AC power and a lower power rating of 7.4 kW, which makes the car about seven times longer to fully charge.
But the question is, are these charging points enough?
If you want to charge your rented electric car with BlueSG, you also have to make sure that there is a parking space at the charging station. You can either check availability online or reserve a place in advance.
There are a few charging points in central areas like Orchard, Bugis, and Chinatown, though you need to be prepared to walk to get to them. In suburbs like Siglap it gets a lot harder, but at least it improves.
I was looking for a BlueSG charging point near me. The closest is 1.39 km away (just a four minute walk) and there are three parking spaces available. However, at the time of writing, there is no charging station available.
Screengrab from BlueSG
If you have to walk 3 km to and from the charging stations, it is the equivalent of a shuttle bus to the MRT station.
If you don't live near a charging station, you still have to use a grave or public transit to get home.
Photo credit: @lawrey / Medium
After returning the electric vehicle, you cannot park it illegally if there is no parking space available as it will need to be plugged into a charging station before you stop paying for it.
“It won't be easy, but it's very important. If you are considering an electric vehicle over an ICE vehicle, you need to be convinced that having access to a charger is as convenient as having access to a gas station, ”said Dr. Janil.
Other factors affecting electric vehicle adoption
If you'd rather own your own electric car, these cost between S $ 100,000 and S $ 160,000 for mass market models.
High-end models can cost up to S $ 500,000, but in this price range you can check out petroleum supercars instead.
There is also “range anxiety” – the fear that an electric vehicle will run out of charge while driving – that discourages owning a private electric vehicle.
EV owners tend to install their own charging stations when living in lots. Most Singaporeans, however, don't live in homes with garages where they can plug their cars in overnight.
If they live in a condo, they will need to get their condo management to set up charging points.
Photo credit: buyer
Authorities also need to carefully plan where EV chargers are located, as power restrictions can be a limitation.
This mystery may raise the question of whether the country's electrical grid can handle with thousands of drivers charging their cars at the same time every evening.
According to the Land Transport Authority, there were only 1,036 fully electric cars on the road as of September 2019, compared to just 12 electric vehicles in 2016. This makes up just 0.1 percent of the total vehicle population.
Additionally, there has been uncertainty about the standards for fast charging infrastructure and battery technology, and Singapore has carefully adopted these.
During the debate of the Ministry of Transport's Supply Committee (MOT) on March 5, Dr. Janil that the fast charging system they have approved is called Chademo, which is mainly being adopted by Japanese electric vehicle manufacturers.
However, Chademo is only included as an optional public charging standard, so it is not mandatory for charging service operators to provide Chademo chargers at public charging stations.
As a result, operators only need to provide 2 AC (slow charging) and / or Combo 2 DC (fast charging) chargers.
Photo credit: Emerging Europe
It takes eight hours to charge a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle with a 6.6 kW AC charger.
We need more DC charging points with a nominal output of 50 kW, with which an electric vehicle can be fully charged within 30 minutes.
Taking into account the global EV transformation
Fifteen member governments around the world from Africa, Asia, Europe and North America have adopted the Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI), a cross-policy forum dedicated to accelerating the global introduction and introduction of electric vehicles.
EVI is one of several initiatives launched in 2010 as part of the Ministry of Clean Energy, a dialogue between energy ministers from the world's major economies. EVI also sees the participation of the International Energy Agency (IEA).
According to a report on Global EV Outlook, battery cost is one of the biggest hurdles to electric vehicle adoption. Over $ 8.7 billion pumped into research, development, and demonstration (R&D) since 2008 has significantly reduced battery costs.
As a result, battery costs fell from 1,000 kWh in 2008 to 485 kWh in 2012.
Apart from that, new car models from different manufacturers will help expand the EV market.
Governments are helping this market transformation by investing heavily in research and development and by providing consumer incentives.
Are electric cars here to stay?
Fear of range shouldn't deter Singaporeans from driving electric vehicles, as Singaporeans drive an average of 55 km per day. In contrast, electric vehicles have a range between 250 and 300 km on a single charge.
A well-distributed and accessible charging infrastructure, especially with DC fast charging, will further allay the concerns of EV owners.
In addition, the Singapore government is intervening to increase the adoption rate.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced some measures in the 2020 Singapore budget to encourage more Singaporeans to adopt electric cars.
First, Singapore will significantly expand the charging infrastructure for electronic vehicles from 1,600 to 28,000 by 2030.
With this ambitious goal, it has allayed my concerns about having power restrictions as Singapore has always been at the forefront. In fact, we are blessed with a lot of electricity – with a power generation sector with overcapacity since 2015.
Second, the vehicle emissions system, which offsets tax breaks and surcharges based on a vehicle's emissions levels, is being extended to light commercial vehicles.
Third, an incentive system for the early introduction of EV buyers will be introduced from 2021 to 2023. It offers discounts of up to S $ 20,000 per vehicle.
Fourth, the road tax on electric vehicles and some hybrids will be changed to be less criminal.
Earlier, EV giant Tesla CEO Elon Musk was quoted as saying that the Singapore government was "undesirable" to the company, which doubled his previous claims that the government does not support electric vehicles.
Image credit: Electrek
However, they have been hiring jobs in Singapore in the past few months, sparking rumors that they may be opening an office in Singapore.
After the positive response to BlueSG, Singapore may be more receptive to Tesla. If Tesla enters the Singapore market, there is a chance that electric cars will see much greater use here.
Even if the Singaporeans want other options besides a Tesla or a Nissan Leaf, the car brands are bringing out their own versions of the electric car.
During the Singapore Motor Show 2020, more than 10 major brands presented their electric vehicles. Many more are expected to hit the market next year.
The main attraction of fully electric cars is that they are a more environmentally friendly alternative to petrol cars. Electric vehicles emit fewer harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, as well as greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
They are also touted for a quieter and quieter ride with lower running costs and more direct power transmission. These make electric vehicles a compelling sale, especially for those who live in densely populated areas.
Selected image source: BlueSG