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The Future Is Here - LTA Finally Announces Island-Wide Electric Car-Sharing Programme BlueSG

[UPDATE: 13 Feb 2017] From as early as August, the first batch of a total of 1,000 of battery-powered electric cars from French company Blue Solutions would be deployed in what is seen as the “first big-scale car-sharing scheme of its kind”.

Starting with 10 to 20 cars in 5 to 10 locations, Blue Solutions managing director for Asia and Middle East Franck Vitte mentioned that a soft launch of the phone apps-based car-sharing programme will also take place in August.

The figures come as a more modest estimate as compared to what was mentioned last June, with 125 electric cars, 50 electric vehicle stations and 250 charging points in heartland estates announced then.

As for usage charges, Vitte said they are “likely to be slightly lower than taxi fares, starting from ‘a few dollars’ for the first 15 minutes, followed by per-minute charges”. Frequent users can also look forward to enjoying lower rates.

Read more here.

In a bid to encourage the adoption of electric cars in Singapore, it was announced on Thursday (30 June) that an island-wide car-sharing programme will be launched by mid 2017.

Minister of Transport Khaw Boon Wan signed an agreement for a 10 year programme with BlueSG, which is a subsidiary of Bollore Group, a French investment and industrial holding group.

The programme is said to be co-funded by the Government.

Under the agreement, the first wave, which will be implemented by mid 2017, would come in the form of 125 electric cars, 50 electric vehicle stations and 250 charging points in heartland estates like Ang Mo Kio, Jurong East, and Punggol.

By 2020, BlueSG will be deploying 1,000 electric vehicles in Singapore and installing 2,000 charging points all around the island. There would also be 500 BlueSG stations available, with 80% of them being located in residential areas.

2,000 parking lots would also be added to areas in housing estates, the Central Business District (CBD) and industrial areas to accommodate the new additions.

Working somewhat like renting a car, the programme is the first of its kind in terms of how large the scale is, and offers users the flexibility of picking up a car at their starting point and simply returning it at their destination.

The issue of electric vehicles having a shorter travel range as compared to fuel-guzzling cars is also alleviated due to this arrangement.

“It will play an important role in our efforts to create a car-lite society, as car-sharing enables more people to have occasional access to the use of a car, without having to own one” said LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong.

A Car-Lite, Green-Car Vision

The reason was for the push was revealed to be linked mostly to the problem of pollution, which is especially increased due the small land area and dense population.

“Pollution from vehicles therefore has an especially adverse impact on the quality of our living environment and our health,” Mr Khaw said.

However, he also admits that electric vehicles are “not truly emissions-free”, although they are definitely more environmentally-friendly than conventional vehicles.

Bollore Group To Create 250 “High-Value” Jobs

The Bollore Group was chosen from 13 participants in a request for information exercise held in December 2014, and Mr Khaw cited their strong track record and quality of their proposal that made them stand out.

The French group is no stranger to electric car-sharing, and currently operates Autolib in Paris, France. The programme has an impressive following, with 4,000 electric cars in its fleet and 130,000 regular users.

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Image Credit: Ministry of Transport

“Blue SG will not only bring a significant contribution to the quality of the environment, it will also introduce a new way of commuting in Singapore, open to everyone, extremely easy to use and affordable,” Vice-President of Bollore Group Cedric Bollore said.

The agreement not only entails the provision of electric cars and stations, but BlueSG is also said to be creating around 250 jobs in its first 5 years here with the setting up of a Global Innovation Centre, which will undertake research and development work in mobility and energy management solutions.

BlueSG’s Asia-Pacific headquarters would also be based in Singapore, and will oversee regional trends for its electrical mobility business.

Singaporeans React

The Government’s push for moving towards electric cars is nothing new, with a test-bed which tests the viability of electric vehicles in Singapore being set up in 2011. Earlier in May, plans for an electric vehicle car-sharing programme was also announced, albeit details not being released then.

Even more recently, LTA confirmed that there is a possibility of an electric fleet of taxis, if Singaporean startup Hold Dreams Together (HDT) Singapore Holdings gets their taxi licence. The startup is the sole applicant of phase 2 of LTA’s electrical car test-bed.

Image Credit: HDT Singapore Taxi
Image Credit: HDT Singapore Taxi

While the BlueSG programme signals a thumbs-up by the Government in going green vehicle-wise, Singaporean netizens seem to have some gripes:

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Perhaps this comes in response to the bump encountered by Mr Joe Nguyen who tried to import the zero-emissions EV Tesla Model S into Singapore earlier in March.

Expecting to get a S$30,000 rebate for environmentally-friendly vehicles, he was instead slapped with a S$15,000 carbon emissions fine. An all electric vehicle which has no tailpipe or exhaust, the LTA was slammed for its double-standards.

However, LTA came forward to justify the fine, stating that the carbon emissions produced during the charging process, which is linked to the national power grid, was taken into account.

The issue was even elevated to Tesla CEO Elon Musk:

who then promptly replied

While no one knows what the conversation entailed, it could be safe to say that with BlueSG, we would (hopefully) have fewer cases like Mr Nguyen’s. – Vulcan Post

 

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