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How Singapore is turning into a poster child for EV adoption

Written by Vulcan Post Published on     5 mins read

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The government is setting aside USD 22.5 million over the next five years for EV-related initiatives.

In recent years, Singapore’s government has been very vocal about its stance to boost the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the country. In his budget speech delivered in February, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat gave the clearest indication.

He said that the country is “placing a significant bet on EVs and leaning policy in that direction because it is the most promising technology”.

Back in 2009, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) set up an EV task force involving multiple government agencies to assess nationwide costs, benefits, and feasibility of EV adoption in Singapore. The task force started out on EV test-bedding in 2011, putting Singapore among the first cities in the world to test such vehicles at the systems level.

The testbed started with three outdoor and two indoor charging stations, as well as nine EVs. A year later, the it involved 25 EVs on the road and 25 charging stations.

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In 2014, the task force announced plans to trial an EV car-sharing program that would see the introduction of up to 1,000 EVs with supporting charging infrastructure. It also called on companies to submit proposals for the trial, which would study whether a one-way car-sharing model can work out in Singapore.

Out of 13 participants, electric car-sharing firm BlueSG was shortlisted to participate in the trial. Running a fleet of 1,000 EVs, LTA believed that BlueSG would play an integral part in achieving Singapore’s car-lite vision by reducing reliance on private vehicles.

In 2017, HDT Singapore Taxi rolled out Singapore’s first fleet of electric taxis. In May 2018, another local taxi company ComfortDelGro added 200 new Hyundai Ioniq Hybrids to its fleet.

Shortly after, ride-hailing giant Grab also decided to electrify its fleet as it announced the addition of 200 electric vehicles in partnership with SP Group in January 2019. That same month, SP Group rolled out its first wave of 38 EV charging points and plans to install 1,000 EV charging stations by 2020.

Graphic by Vulcan Post.

Meanwhile, Greenlot had 200 EV charging stations in 2019. Out of this figure, 22 are located in condominiums. BlueSG, on the other hand, reached 521 EV charging stations across 135 locations islandwide. It also announced plans to install 2,000 charging points at 500 locations by 2020.

In October 2020, South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor unveiled plans to set up an electric vehicles (EV) manufacturing plant at Bulim Avenue in Jurong, which is slated to be operational by 2022. Hyundai’s presence in Singapore is rather groundbreaking. It is the first time Hyundai chose a country that does not have a car manufacturing industry. The investment is worth almost SGD 400 million (USD 300 million) and the facility is expected to produce up to 30,000 EVs per year by 2025.

Earlier in January, Charge+ announced plans to install 10,000 EV charging points in Singapore by 2030. About 4,000 of these points will be located in at least 1,200 condominiums. The company said that they have “garnered very strong interest from many condominiums because the upfront capital outlay, operating expenses and risk are borne by Charge+.”

Last month, Goldbell Group confirmed its acquisition of BlueSG and committed more than SGD 70 million (USD 52.5 million) to expand its business and capability over the next five years. At the time, BlueSG had 650 vehicles and more than 1,200 charging points.

Tesla’s comeback

With such a strong push towards EVs now, it’s interesting to note that the government once regarded Tesla as mere “lifestyle,“ in which Singapore was not interested in. Tesla first set up shop here in mid-2010, but left in early 2011 because it failed to secure green tax breaks.

In 2016, Tesla tried to launch in Singapore again but the automaker ran into some issues. Its first Tesla Model S owner in Singapore had problems with emission tests and was charged a SGD 15,000 (USD 11,250) fine after LTA determined that the car was polluting more than a gasoline car of similar size.

Tesla tried to fight back against the ruling and issued a statement claiming that efficiency test results should have been almost three times lower than achieved through LTA’s tests. It was followed by controversial tweets by Tesla founder Elon Musk, who declared that Singapore was unsupportive of electric cars and unwelcoming of Tesla.

The government has since been a lot more responsive to electric vehicles, and Tesla is finally giving it another go five years later. The company has started hiring rounds here and earlier in January, it included Singapore in its global network of high-speed chargers.

Last month, it received green light to start selling its electric cars in Singapore. A Tesla Model 3 Performance is selling at an estimated price of just under SGD 155,000 (USD 116,000) before the Certificate of Entitlement (COE). This more powerful model boasts a top speed of 261 km/h, and can reach 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds.

The less powerful Model 3 standard range, which hits 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds, will go for around SGD 113,000 (USD 85,000) before COE.

New initiatives

In this year’s Budget speech, Minister Heng announced that the government will set aside SGD 30 million (USD 22.5 million) over the next five years for EV-related initiatives, such as measures to improve charging at private premises. In addition, the government aims to deploy 60,000 charging points by 2030—more than double its initial target of 28,000.

The government will also narrow the cost differential between electric cars and internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, to further encourage the early adoption of EVs. To achieve this, the Additional Registration Fee floor will be lowered to zero for electric cars, from January 2022.

The road tax treatment for electric cars will also be revised. This will be done by adjusting the road tax bands so that a mass-market electric car will have a road tax comparable to an ICE equivalent.

Local banks have also stepped up to grab a slice of the EV pie in Singapore. Earlier in January, OCBC partnered with Charge+ to provide digital payment solutions for its charging points. It is also looking into the financing for the Charge+ charging infrastructure.

Last month, DBS unveiled Singapore’s first green car loan, offering preferential car loan rates to all customers purchasing new and used electric vehicles.

This article was originally published by Vulcan Post

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