Singapore is charging ahead towards its electric dreams and have rolled out several initiatives and grants to work towards the national plan of phasing out Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles by 2040.
The country’s end goal is to have all vehicles run on cleaner engine in the next two decades.
The key strategies that the government has put in place to support EV transformation included areas like vehicle costs, charging infrastructure and regulations.
It has introduced a slew of grants to incentivise the adoption of EVs for private and commercial vehicles.
Most recently, it introduced an EV Common Charger Grant (ECCG) for existing non-landed private residences to kickstart the expansion of shared charging infrastructure.
The ECCG will co-fund half the installation costs of 2,000 chargers between July 2021 and December 2023, with an overall cap of S$4,000 for each charger.
Beefing up EV charging infrastructure
Under the Singapore Green Plan 2030 (SGP30), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has laid out a comprehensive EV Roadmap to ramp up efforts for EV adoption.
As prices of EVs become more attractive over the years, the accessibility of charging infrastructure is vital for encouraging EV adoption.
In the EV Roadmap, the government has set a target of 60,000 EV charging points — 40,000 in public carparks and 20,000 in private premises — by 2030, up from the initial 28,000 charging points.
The government is working together with the private sector to achieve this goal.
In fact, LTA has recently concluded a Request For Information (RFI) exercise and is studying the views from industry players on the market structure for developing and operating charging infrastructure.
Earlier in April, it sought written replies from players in the market on how best to structure electric vehicle charging point tenders. This will affect public carpark charging points, covering critical issues like the pricing of charges to consumers and how charging points will be installed.
It will also take into account the charging points’ operation and the upgrading of infrastructure needed to support them, such as substations and switch rooms.
27 different companies, as seen below, have submitted their responses to LTA.
Zooming in on EV providers in Singapore
The EV landscape in Singapore is still quite unsaturated.
Although car-sharing players are abundant in Singapore, BlueSG remains the only leading player for electric car-sharing. However, Singapore startup QIQ Global announced last year that it plans to launch electric microcars for rent.
Called the QIQ Pods, they are only 2.4 metres long and 1 metre wide. Currently, the firm already runs e-bike and e-scooter services in Hanoi.
As of August last year, the QIQ Pod has yet to be approved by LTA but the startup plans to roll out 300 to 600 microcars in Punggol.
Electric motorbikes are also still quite niche. Scorpio Electric is Singapore’s first Singapore-built electric motorcycle.
It is the EV brand of Catalist-listed luxury car distributor EuroSports Global, which raised US$6.3 million funding last November.
The startup said that it will use the fresh capital for software and hardware development of its first electric motorcycle, which is slated to be launched this year.
This will include prototypes and pre-production builds that will undergo rigorous quality testing and checks to ensure they adhere to international standards, said Scorpio Electric in a press statement.
Part of the proceeds will also go into completing its headquarters and 3,600 square metre assembly plant at Teban Gardens in Jurong East. This plant is expected to produce up to 8,000 electric motorcycles each year, according to the startup.
Meanwhile, SMRT-owned Strides Transportation signed a one-year partnership with electric motorcycle maker EuroSports Technologies in April 2021 to develop, market and supply smart electric motorbikes.
Under this partnership, Strides will be the sole distributor of commercial electric motorcycles in Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region.
Electric bicycles and scooters on the other hand, have gotten a lot of flak following an increasing number of accidents involving such personal mobility devices (PMDs).
This has led the government to enforce a regulation in which e-scooter and electric bicycle riders have to take mandatory theory tests.
Regardless, there are way more players in this segment compared to electric cars and bikes.
E-scooter startup Beam Mobility recently raised US$26 million in a Series A funding round in June to propel its expansion in the Asia Pacific.
It currently has the largest mobility fleet across the region, with presence in Korea, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Taiwan.
Neuron Mobility is also ramping up its overseas expansion plans. In March, it expanded to Korea with the launch of its e-scooter rental services.
In Australia and New Zealand, the company has already secured new contracts to operate in Canberra and Townsville in Australia, and Dunedin in New Zealand. In the UK, it has also secured contracts in Slough, Newcastle and Sunderland.
Neuron Mobility’s overseas expansion follows a round of fundraising last September, which brought its total Series A funding to US$30.5 million.
Companies from different verticals are battling for a slice of the EV pie
Singapore’s push for EVs has also lured companies from different industries to jump onto the EV bandwagon.
For instance, homegrown electricity retailer iSwitch Energy has acquired up to 12 existing charging stations from Finnish tech firm PlugIT in April, marking its entry into the local EV charging market.
Ultimately, it aims to be a “one-stop green shop” across solar, battery storage and EV charging points
French oil giant TotalEnergies has also recently signed an agreement with French conglomerate Bollore Group to acquire homegrown electric car-sharing firm BlueSG’s EV charging network.
Called Bluecharge, it is currently Singapore’s largest EV charging network, with 1,500 charging points making up around 85 per cent of the island’s charging points.
This move is in line with oil companies venturing into the EV charging space. In Singapore, both Shell and Caltex offer charging points at selected stations.
Solar energy firm Sunseap has also set up a green mobility business called Charge+. With this new arm, it plans to install 10,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging points islandwide by 2030.
In line with this target, Charge+ aims to install 4,000 EV charging points across 1,200 Singapore condominiums.
According to Charge+ CEO, they have received “overwhelmingly positive response” from the management and residents of many condominiums. Its first partnership is with Sky@Eleven condominium, with six charging points slated to be installed within the premises.
EV drivers living in condominiums that opt to use Charge+’s charging service will pay a fixed monthly fee on a subscription basis, which is a “first-of-its-kind” for EV charging in Singapore.
Under this subscription model, users will be given a certain threshold of energy per month for a monthly fee — this is similar to a telco package with a set number of mobile data capacity per month.
They will benefit from the cost savings from using this service since the monthly charging fee will be about half of what a driver driving a conventional vehicle will typically spend on petrol on a monthly basis.– Goh Chee Kiong, CEO of Charge+
There’s a need to regulate the EV landscape
LTA will take over the regulation of electric vehicle chargers from the Energy Market Authority, under a new law passed in Parliament on May 11.
This move will see the LTA regulate both EVs and charging infrastructure, which Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng said will help push adoption of EVs.
Explaining the change, Mr Baey said: “The current situation is not optimal because while LTA is in charge of developing the charging infrastructure, it does not have oversight of the regulations governing proper installation.”
“Furthermore, no government agency oversees the regulation of non-fixed charging solutions, like battery swapping.”
Under the new law, LTA will lead efforts to review the technical standards and safety precautions relating to EVs. It will set EV charging standards moving forward. Licensed electrical workers will install fixed chargers in compliance with these standards.
Mr Baey said the government is studying other legislative measures like requiring chargers to be installed for new buildings.
LTA has also set up a National Electric Vehicle Centre (NEVC), which will spearhead the drive to promote wider EV adoption.
In addition to planning for the expansion of the nationwide EV charging infrastructure, NEVC will also lead efforts to review EV regulations and standards and develop a robust EV ecosystem in Singapore.
NEVC will work closely with relevant Government agencies, industry stakeholders and unions to equip our workforce with new capabilities, anchor new EV-related activities in Singapore, and facilitate the safe and innovative development of new EV-related technologies.
A nationwide electric vehicle (EV) charging standard TR25:2016 has also been established for the EV charging system in Singapore.
LTA and EDB, which co-chair the Electro-Mobility Singapore (EMS) taskforce, announced that Type 2 AC and Combo-2 DC charging systems would be adopted as the National Public Charging Standards (NPCS).
In March 2020, as part of Government’s commitment to create a sustainable transport system, LTA and EMA jointly announced the addition of CHAdeMO charging systems as an Optional Public Charging Standards (OPCS) for EV.
This enables providers of EV chargers to bring in a larger range of public charging options for EV users and supports the wider adoption of EVs in Singapore.
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Featured Image Credit: Jefferson Tan via Facebook