Electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way in Singapore.
Once a rare sight, EVs now account for 10 per cent of all new car sales within a decade of their introduction. In addition, a survey conducted by EY shows that five in 10 Singaporeans have plans to purchase an EV.
These numbers are promising, and the government is building upon the momentum by developing a high-quality and sufficient charging network to support that growth. But beyond the infrastructure, what else will it take to convince Singaporeans to jump on the EV bandwagon?
As a new technology, EVs do not come cheap. The cheapest EV model on the market will still cost more than its petrol equivalent, and this can cause buyers to ignore EVs as a viable option.
Therefore, dispelling the notion that EVs are unaffordable is key to changing public perception. Firstly, it is important to drive across the point that the higher initial costs of an EV will be offset by lower fuel and servicing costs over 10 years.
Furthermore, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) offers schemes such as the EV Early Adoption Incentive (EEAI) and Enhanced Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES) that provide rebates of up to S$45,000 for EV purchases. These can make buying an EV more financially enticing, but only if there is enough public awareness and understanding of how they work.
Another area to focus on would be the driving experience. To many autophiles, the growl of a powerful engine practically defines the whole point of driving.
How then do we convince buyers that despite the lack of a roaring engine, their driving experience will not be diluted? Or that an EV is still an exciting car to drive in its own right?
The Formula E electric motor racing championship, as it gains mainstream popularity, might help disperse the idea that speed and power are the domain of internal combustion engines.
Aside from that, drawing attention to the uniqueness of driving EVs, with their seamless acceleration, responsiveness, and safety features will also help to shift the narrative of EVs.
When buyers are convinced that driving an EV feels good and that it is a novel experience they do not want to miss out on, they will be compelled to buy the product. It is simple psychology.
While Tesla is the name that comes to mind, a number of other luxury car manufacturers are also branching into the field.
Currently, models by BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are available in Singapore. But in the coming years, brands such as Bentley, Ferrari, and Aston Martin have also signalled their plans to launch electric models.
With more and more luxury EVs entering the market, they are set to become the ultimate status symbol. When you consider how owning a car in Singapore is seldom about getting from point A to B, driving a luxury EV signifies not only wealth. It also highlights environmental consciousness, making it virtue signalling at the highest level.
Comparing and emulating the lifestyle of those from a higher status is ingrained in so many of us. Remember the queues for the Omega x Swatch watches or even the Uniqlo x Jil Sander collection?
The demand for such high-low collaborations shows an insatiable appetite for luxury brands, and the growth of luxury EVs will most likely generate a trickle-down effect on consumer behaviour.
Simply put, a luxury EV model may be out of reach, but the desire to be seen as virtuous will subconsciously push people towards the tide of EV adoption. After all, aspiration is often the precursor to buying.
When it comes to making the choice of whether to buy an EV, we cannot assume consumers will make rational decisions. In a bid to convince the populace, the government can shore up infrastructure and ramp up public education on the importance of meeting net-zero targets.
But ultimately, changing perceptions and motivations could just be what we need to drive EV adoption among the masses.
Featured Image Credit: Our Tampines Hub via Twitter
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