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Electric taxis to Tesla Superchargers: Here are the key EV developments in S’pore in H2 2021

electric vehicle singapore

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”.

This is in contrast to the government’s stance a decade ago, when it once regarded Tesla as a mere “lifestyle“, which Singapore is not interested in.

This was followed by controversial tweets by Tesla founder Elon Musk, who declared that Singapore was unsupportive of electric cars and unwelcoming of Tesla.

Fast forward to today, the government has been a lot more supportive towards EVs as it looks to phase out petrol vehicles by 2040.

It has 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.

It has also committed to building eight “EV-ready” towns in Singapore by 2025, and aims to deploy 60,000 charging points by 2030 — more than double its initial target of 28,000.

Here’s a look at the other key EV developments in Singapore for the second half of this year.

electric vehicle singapore
Image Credit: Vulcan Post

More EV chargers are installed in S’pore

In July, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced the Electric Vehicle Common Charger Grant (ECCG) for existing non-landed private residences to kickstart the expansion of shared EV 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.

Image Credit: TotalEnergies / LTA

That same month, French oil giant TotalEnergies signed an agreement to acquire BlueSG’s EV charging network, 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. 

Following the acquisition, these charging points will be rebranded to TotalEnergies.

This announcement comes after local transport and engineering firm Goldbell Group announced that it is acquiring BlueSG earlier in February this year.

Goldbell shared then that it plans to expand BlueSG’s business and technical capabilities with investments of more than S$70 million over the next five years.

The acquisition was finally completed in October 2021. Goldbell said that it is dedicating up to S$40 million to accelerate BlueSG’s growth by 2023, which represents 60 per cent of the entire investment.

Ultimately, Goldbell aims to expand BlueSG’s business and technical capabilities to develop a business model that will be replicated in other smart cities across Asia Pacific.

As part of this plan, it will be building a “global headquarters for car-sharing” through BlueSG by the end of 2021, which sets the stage for overseas expansion within the next few years.

In September, LTA and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced that 620 EV charging points will be set up across 200 public car parks in the next 12 months.

A ComfortDelGro consortium was one of two winners in the pilot tender. ComfortDelGro Engineering and its consortium partner ENGIE South East Asia, will set up EV charging points at public car parks in the central, west and east regions of Singapore.

For car parks in the north and north-east regions, the tender was awarded to Primech A&P and its consortium partners Charge+, Sunseap Group, and Oyika.

They will be located at public housing and industrial estates, public parks, community centres and within the Central Business District. The authorities are targeting to have the first chargers ready by the end of 2021. 

The private sector is also helping to ramp up the EV charging infrastructure in Singapore. In July, energy supplier SP Group started trialling four charging points that can draw battery charge back from EVs to balance fluctuations in energy production and consumption.

Image Credit: SP Group

SP Group said that the vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology could help to enhance power grid reliability, such that the grid can handle the mass adoption of EVs expected by 2040 in Singapore.

V2G can also enable Singapore’s energy system to accommodate larger capacities of renewable energy, among other benefits.

SP Group has set up four charging points at one of its substations for the trial, which will be completed in June 2022.

tesla v3 supercharger singapore
Image Credit: Tesla Owners Singapore

Meanwhile, electric car maker Tesla rolled out three EV charging charging points at Orchard Central in July under a regulatory sandbox by the LTA. It set up another three EV charging points at Millennia Walk in October.

The Tesla V3 Supercharger, which is reserved for Tesla owners, is expected to shorten charging time to 15 minutes. Normal chargers typically take several hours for a full charge.

Most recently in November, Changi Airport Group (CAG) partnered Porsche and SP Group to deploy six EV charging stations at Jewel by end December.

Called the Porsche Destination Charging, it will be available for all Changi Airport visitors and is part of CAG’s green efforts towards its pledge to zero-carbon growth by 2030.

Six Porsche Destination Charging EV charging points will be installed in Jewel by end-December. They will be available for all Changi Airport visitors.

Companies and institutions are also electrifying their fleet

Back in July, the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) announced its commitment to convert all the trams at the Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park to run on electricity by the end of the year.

WRS said it has set itself the goal of converting its entire internal fleet, including vans, lorries, buggies and tow tractors, to an electric one by 2025. It is also working with external operators who run shuttle bus services to WRS parks to use only electric buses by the same year.

mandai ev charging singapore
Image Credit: Mandai Park Holdings

The WRS management believes that electric vehicles are here to stay, and has since reserved five per cent of all available parking lots in its public carpark in Mandai for the charging of electric vehicles.

Since November last year, it has installed 10 charging points at the multi-storey carpark. At least 20 more are set to be added, making it one of the largest public EV charging locations in Singapore.

Meanwhile, SingPost has commenced pilots of fully electric three-wheeler scooters and vans, with a view to replacing all of its current internal combustion counterparts in its postal service and Speedpost delivery fleet with fully electric versions by 2026.

SingPost intends to progressively switch its entire internal combustion engine fleet of more than 700 motorcycles and three-wheeler scooters, as well as 140 vans to electric motor equivalents as their COEs expire over the next five years.

This will make SingPost the first postal service in the Asia-Pacific region to commit to a 100 per cent electric delivery fleet.

SingPost is also in talks with various distributors to replace its heavy vehicle fleet with electric trucks and will make an assessment once conditions are favourable.

When it comes to public transport, Singaporeans will also get to enjoy more EV options as government, companies and institutions ramp up investments in this space.

Image Credit: LTA

On August 25, a new fleet of 20 fast-charging electric buses will be progressively rolled out for passenger service as part of Singapore’s plans to have a cleaner energy public bus fleet by 2040.

It is the final batch to be deployed out of the 60 electric buses that LTA purchased in 2018 for S$50 million from three suppliers. 

strides taxi
Image Credit: Strides Taxi

In end August, Strides Taxi — formerly SMRT and a subsidiary of Strides Mobility — rolled out the first batch of 15 electric taxis.

Strides’ electric vehicles are called MG5 and are new to the Singapore market. It can travel for up to 300km on a full charge, and takes 40 minutes to charge a vehicle to 80 per cent capacity.

A total of 300 electric taxis will be rolled out by end 2021, which will make Strides Taxi the taxi operator with the largest fleet of EVs in Singapore. 

To encourage drivers to be “early adopters” of its electric taxis, Strides Taxi is offering free rental on the MG5 vehicle and unlimited charging for the first 30 days. 

It has also worked with SP Group and Shell “to provide convenience and discounts for (drivers’) charging needs”.

Subsequently in November, transport company ComfortDelGro clinched a contract worth over S$30 million to operate an electric bus shuttle service at the National University of Singapore (NUS) campus.

The electric buses will be wheelchair-accessible and equipped with smart features such as a telematics system, an anti-fatigue system, as well as a forward and side collision warning system.

It is slated to begin operations from the third quarter of 2022, which will make ComfortDelGro the largest electrified private bus fleet in Singapore.

There has been a positive uptake of EVs so far

Earlier in July, Minister for Transport S Israwan shared in Parliament that EVs made up 1.3 per cent of all new electric car, taxi and bus registrations between January and June this year, up from just 0.3 per cent of vehicle registrations for the whole of 2020.

Separately, in just about two months since Tesla entered the local car market, it has risen to be the best-selling EV brand in Singapore.

According to LTA figures, Tesla recorded 314 new registrations in September 2021 — this is twice the number of cars sold as compared to August. In total, there are a total of 558 Teslas hitting Singapore roads. In total, there were a total of 558 Teslas hitting our Singapore roads.

It’s also worthy to note that the only available model in Singapore is Tesla’s Model 3, which is their most affordable model. Given its popularity on a single model, this spells intense competition for other car brands in Singapore.

Beyond electric cars, electric bikes are also gaining traction. Singapore-based electric motorbike maker ION Mobility raised US$6.8 million seed funding in October as it prepares to unveil its smart electric motorbike.

With the fresh capital, the startup aims to set up its manufacturing operations in Singapore and Indonesia in preparation to launch in those markets.

ION Mobility is currently in the process of commissioning its 1,175 square metre EV motorbike and battery pack assembly operations at LaunchPad@ one-north in Singapore by the end of this year.

It also intends to expand its EV motorbike assembly operations into Jakarta come 2022.

Featured Image Credit: AFP / LTA / Strides Mobility / Reuters

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