In recent years, the government has been very vocal about its stance to boost the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in Singapore.
In last year’s Budget speech delivered in February, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat gave the clearest indication of the government’s commitment towards EVs.
He said that the country is “placing a significant bet on EVs and leaning policy in that direction because it is the most promising (cleaner vehicle) technology”.
EV Landscape In S’pore A Decade Ago
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 EV test-bed involved 25 EVs on the road and 25 charging stations.
In 2014, the task force announced plans to trial an EV car-sharing programme that will 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 believes that BlueSG would play an integral part in achieving Singapore’s car-lite vision by reducing reliance on private vehicles.
More Companies In S’pore Jumped On The EV Bandwagon
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.
Meanwhile, Greenlot had 200 EV charging stations in 2019. Out of this figure, 22 are located in condominiums.
BlueSG on the other hand, had 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 worth almost S$400 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 S$70 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 Makes A Comeback In S’pore
With such a strong push towards EVs now, it’s interesting to note that the government once regarded Tesla as a mere “lifestyle“, which Singapore is 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.
The first Tesla Model S owner in Singapore had problems with emission tests and was charged a S$15,000 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.
This was then followed by controversial tweets by Tesla founder Elon Musk, who declared that Singapore was unsupportive of electric cars and unwelcoming of Tesla.
The local government has since been a lot more responsive to electric vehicles, and Tesla is finally giving it another go five years later.
Tesla 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 will retail at an estimated price of just under S$155,000 before the Certificate of Entitlement (COE). This more powerful model boasts a top speed of 261km/h, and can reach 100km/h in 3.3 seconds.
The less powerful Model 3 Standard Range, which hits 100kmh in 5.6 seconds, will go for around S$113,000 before COE.
Recent Rollout of EV Incentives In S’pore
In this year’s Budget speech, Minister Heng announced that the government will set aside S$30 million over the next five years for EV-related initiatives, such as measures to improve charging provision at private premises.
This is meant to catalyse the partnership between the public and private sectors, and comes as Singapore is accelerating the development of its charging infrastructure.
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 to December 2023. This will enable mass-market buyers to maximise the rebates from the EV Early Adoption Initiative.
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.
Beyond the government, local banks have also stepped up to grab a slice of the EV pie in Singapore.
Earlier in January, OCBC Bank partnered Charge+ to provide digital payment solutions for its charging points, as well as look 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.
With these increased efforts and incentives, Singapore is definitely well on its way to phase out petrol cars by 2040 as there has definitely been a growth in EV numbers over the years.
Here’s a quick overview of Singapore’s electric vehicle journey thus far:
Featured Image Credit: SP Group