In the first five months of 2022, electric vehicles (EVs) made up 8.4% of all new car registrations in Singapore, which indicates a growth rate of more than double compared to last year and over 20 times than in 2020.
As reported by The Straits Times, Singapore’s transport minister, S. Iswaran, said at the Ecosperity conference that this was a sign that the incentives put in place by the government to reduce the price of EVs as well as efforts to expand the EV charging network are working. He added that EV adoption is expected to pick up as drivers become more comfortable with the idea of driving EVs and the installation of additional EV chargers in Singapore.
Earlier this month, the LTA revised the Vehicle Quota System (VQS) to encourage EV uptake, which saw EVs with an output of up to 110 kW (147 hp) now qualify for the cheaper Category A COE (Certificate of Entitlement) instead of Category B COE.
Statistics from the country’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) revealed there were 1,217 EVs registered at the end of 2020, with the figure rocketing up to 2,942 EVs at the end of 2021. As at the end of May this year, there are 1,112 more EVs on the road for a total of 4,054 units.
Singapore plans to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040 to reduce its carbon footprint, although panellists at conference did point out that EVs still remain marginal in the country, making up about 1% to 3% of the total private car population. Also present at the event was Grab’s group vice-president of marketing and sustainability Cheryl Goh, who said most private-hire car drivers were unable and unwilling to switch to EVs.
“Our drivers are generally lower-middle class and for them, a vehicle isn’t a luxury item or a status symbol, but a way in which they can earn an income. Our drivers are very sensitive to vehicle-related costs because it directly impacts how much money they can bring home to their family,” Goh said.
She added that the total cost of owning an EV remains 82% higher than owning an equivalent internal combustion engine vehicle, and there’s also the issue of charging times, which limits the amount of time drivers can dedicated to pick up and drop off passengers.
“Our drivers drive a lot longer than an average driver. They drive 230 km a day in Singapore alone, and that’s seven times more than the average driver. Since they frequently need to charge and frequently need to think about mileage, range anxiety is real and something that truly makes them think about whether to transition to EVs,” Goh explained.
Even so, Grab is trialling several initiatives to encourage the switch to cleaner vehicles, including working with financial institutions to finance EV sales to drivers in Thailand. In Indonesia, the company is piloting one-to-one battery swaps that minimises charging times for drivers in Indonesia, while in Singapore, it introduced a JustGrab Green option so passengers can call for hybrid of electric vehicles where they are available without paying extra.
“Eventually, if drivers realise that consumers will choose and prioritise electric vehicles or cleaner vehicles, and they get more money out of it, that will definitely drive the transition. Providing priority allocation for eco-friendly cars is definitely a way that this can be possible,” she said.
Perhaps it is easier for a company to commit rather than individual GrabCar drivers, which is why on the taxi side of things, cab company ComfortDelGro recently took delivery of 25 units of the BYD e6 electric MPV in Singapore.
The BYD e6 offers a travel range of up to 522 km with a rather modest motor power of 136 hp. Specs include a 40 kW AC onboard charger, is one of the highest in its class, as well as DC charging capability.