Instead of going home, you may be able to drive an electric car to your HDB block by 2021.
Singapore-based startup QIQ Global announced today (August 12) its plans to launch small electric cars for rent.
They are known as QIQ pods and are only 2.4 meters long and 1 meter wide. Currently, the company already operates e-bike and e-scooter services in Hanoi.
QIQ Global Co-Founders Dalston Pung, Ben Lim, Justin Sim (left to right) / Photo credit: TechNode Global via Medium
According to co-founder and CEO Justin Sim, the QIQ Pods aim to fix “inefficiency” in the public transport network.
He added that the business model is similar to the BlueSG startup for electric car sharing.
Renting a QIQ pod is estimated to cost S $ 2 for a 30-minute ad hoc ride. For long-term use, it costs between S $ 30 and S $ 50 per month for multiple trips per day.
The prices sound relatively competitive compared to other transportation services like Grab and BlueSG. Grab rides start at S $ 30 for 30 minute rides.
BlueSG, Singapore's first electric car sharing service, lives off a monthly subscription fee that costs around S $ 15 for a 30-minute drive – this is much more expensive than QIQ Pods.
QIQ Pods can also park autonomously at the nearest charging stations. Drivers simply have to leave their cars on the curb.
Geo-fencing, which uses GPS or radio frequency identification technology, is used to create a virtual boundary that limits the QIQ pods to short distances.
I'm still seeking LTA approval
The QIQ Pod has yet to be approved by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), but Justin remains confident that the microcars will receive approval.
Screenshot from the QIQ Global website
The vehicle weighs no more than 250 kg and has a top speed of only 40 km / h. This is much lighter and slower than the two-seater subcompact Renault Twizy, which was not approved for use in Singapore in 2014.
Justin is currently planning to introduce 300 to 600 microcars in Punggol.
A method called platooning is used to distribute QIQ pods in the required locations. This is a human-powered car that leads a convoy of microcars via wireless communication.
Outside of rush hour, QIQ Pods are also maximized in terms of efficiency and used for online deliveries.
The microcars can also be used for logistics purposes and purposes and cost from S $ 180 for monthly rental.
Nevertheless, the QIQ pods can have the same shortcomings as services like BlueSG. Put simply, Singapore may not have enough charging points to support the EV network.
Can QIQ Pods Avoid the Same Fate as Bike Rentals?
Given the uniqueness of QIQ pods, it is also questionable whether they should be classified as vehicles or as closer to scooters or bicycles.
There is a high likelihood that the slow, short distance of these vehicles will cause congestion in crowded urban areas. However, underdeveloped parts of Singapore could benefit.
In contrast to the failed bike and scooter rental businesses that were founded in Singapore, the autonomous driving functions of QIQ Pods should also be able to bypass the “supermarket cart” problem.
This refers to the litter from thoughtlessly discarded, poorly parked vehicles in public areas. There is no need to incentivize returns to charging stations when the vehicles can charge themselves.
Using a QIQ pod would certainly also avoid the dreaded inconvenience of finding parking spaces in crowded cities.
Assuming QIQ is able to break even, this new model of electric vehicle could prove to be a disguised blessing for many commuters.
Selected image source: QIQ Global
Also read: S’pore is heavily reliant on electric cars, but here's what it needs to do to increase adoption