Why some Singaporeans still say ‘no’ to electric vehicles


The Singapore government has progressed towards its electric dreams and has launched several initiatives and grants to work on a national plan to phase out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2040.

For starters, the government has almost tripled its original goal of setting up 28,000 filling stations to 60,000 by 2030. Of that number, 40,000 will be installed in public parking lots and 20,000 in private spaces.

Recently, two consortia, including ComfortDelGro, had received an offer to build and operate over 600 EV filling stations in 200 public car parks in the next 12 months.

Accordingly, Singapore also wants to establish eight cities ready for EV in Singapore by 2025. They will be located in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong West, Punggol, Queenstown, Sembawang and Tengah.

These eight cities will be equipped with electric chargers, and other cities will also gradually be ready for EVs by the 2030s.

With these increased efforts and incentives, Singapore is definitely well on its way to encouraging the adoption of EVs, but why are some Singaporeans still resilient to it?

Ownership costs of electric cars

When it comes to buying a car, budget considerations are important, which is why the government continues to encourage rebates and other measures.

The main obstacle to owning an EV is high prepaid costs. The Hyundai Ioniq Electric currently costs more than $ 150,000, while the hybrid version of the Ioniq costs just over $ 100,000.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric
Hyundai Ioniq Electric / Image Credit: EV Database

These prices exclude COE, and other costs are taken into account, including car insurance, tolls and ARF (additional registration fee). We have provided an analysis of the cost of owning an EV in Singapore here.

Although electric models are significantly more expensive than gasoline ones, they also offer fuel and maintenance savings. Aside from the fact that electricity will cost six times less than gasoline, you’ll probably pay lower maintenance costs as well – no need to change oil, clean valves, and so on.

Furthermore, as more and more models of electric vehicles appear on the market, we can expect costs to fall in advance as car brands will have to compete with each other in the EV space.

Although electric vehicles have not reached the cost parity of gasoline cars, the trend is definitely going in this direction. In fact, a clean energy research group BloombergNEF it is predicted that we will reach parity by 2025.

After taking into account the falling costs of electric cars and batteries, energy savings and maintenance, electric vehicles will be cheaper than gasoline cars in the long run.

Limited possibilities of electric vehicles on the market

Although the giant of electric cars Tesla re-entered the Singapore market after almost a decade, EV car models are still very limited.

Only a few more models of electric cars are on sale in Singapore, such as the BYD e6 and Nissan Leaf.

Moreover, most car manufacturers still focus on one electric car compared to the whole line like what Tesla does, which means consumers have only a few choices.

On the bright side, the situation will change in the not-so-distant future as almost every major manufacturer plans to devote a great deal to electric vehicles in the coming years.

The second largest car manufacturer in the world, Volkswagen, plans to invest billions to finance the transition to electric vehicles by 2025. Luxury car brand Jaguar has also announced that from 2025 it will only produce electric vehicles.

Hyundai’s electric car plant in Singapore
Hyundai Electric Car Plant in Singapore / Image Credit: Hyundai Motor Group

Meanwhile, South Korean car marker Hyundai has revealed plans to establish electric car plant in Singapore and is expected to produce up to 30,000 vehicles a year by 2025.

Anxiety on the range is real

Drivers planning to switch to electric vehicles struggle with “range anxiety,” a term used to describe the fear that the EV will not have enough charge to complete the journey.

Because the driving range of gasoline cars is much longer than electric cars, many believe that electric vehicles will be problematic for long-distance travel, especially for driving to Malaysia.

However, this fear is wrong. It is possible to drive to Johor Bahru with just one charge, and there are also fast chargers that can add hundreds of kilometers to your range in 30 to 40 minutes.

It is also compelling to learn that car manufacturers regularly improve their products, with many already popular models crossing 300 to 400 km real range.

Therefore, trips between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur or Penang could be done without having to stop on the way. A drive of about 500 km to the Thai border requires one refueling stop, which you would normally need for a meal and a toilet anyway.

With vehicles like Hyundai’s Kona Electric, whose long-distance version can cover more than 400km, you can easily drive to Kuala Lumpur in one go.

ev filling malaysia
Electric vehicle charging point in Malaysia / Image credit: EdgeProp

Furthermore, Malaysia has already started with the introduction of charging stations for electric vehicles. As more chargers are being installed along the North-South highway, we will definitely be able to travel without any problems.

Lack of charging stations for electric vehicles

On the recent Land Transport Industry Day, Transport Minister S. Iswaran acknowledged that building an electric vehicle charging network is a key component of Singapore’s electric vehicle promotion strategy.

Although the government has expressed ambitions to deploy 60,000 charging stations for electric vehicles on the island by 2030, as of December 2020, there are only about 1,800 public chargers for electric vehicles.

It also means that Singapore’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure will experience a massive 30-fold increase over the next decade and that there is a long way to go before we reach the desired number.

However, it is encouraging that many companies support the ambition of electrification and have plans to set up charging stations for electric vehicles. Charge + for example, it is planned to set up 10,000 filling stations for EVs by 2030 in line with the national agenda.

tesla orchard with charger central singapore
Tesla’s charger in the central parking lot in Orchard / Image Credit: Alvinology Media

In July, Tesla also installed three charging stations in the parking lot of the Orchard Central shopping center, which is available for public use 24 hours a day.

Minister S. Iswaran said that although there has been “early progress” in the development of charging infrastructure in private premises, most of them are in commercial development such as shopping malls.

Stressing the need to initiate the introduction of shared chargers in private landless apartments, the government has decided to further expand Singapore’s electric vehicle charging network with offers to co-finance the cost of installing such systems in private apartments on the island.

Called a grant for a shared charger for electricity, it will reimburse up to $ 4,000 per charger, limited to 2,000 EV chargers.

According to the Land Transport Administration (LTA), the scheme is available to private landless apartments, such as condominiums, and excludes hotels, hostels and service apartments.

The government agency noted that these private properties make up a significant portion of Singapore residences and will play an important role in improving the national billing network.

Battery concerns: deterioration, risk of fire, difficult recycling

lithium-ion battery ev
Lithium-ion batteries in EVs / Image Credit: Jaguar

It is currently estimated that lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles can be used for 10 years or longer. Although all batteries degrade over a long period of time, this can be slowed down.

The most optimal way is to charge the EV to 80 percent and then switch to slow charging the remaining 20 percent.

Electric vehicle manufacturers have also taken an active role in the battery management system to ensure that the battery does not start to deteriorate after just a few years. With a mix of sophisticated battery management systems and cooling technologies, most electric vehicles have shown excellent performance that will only improve over time.

Another concern related to batteries is fire. Unlike internal combustion engine fires, lithium fires release toxic fumes and require special fire extinguishing methods. So how can electric vehicle owners reduce this risk of fire, especially if more than 80 percent of Singaporeans live in high rooms?

Well then,, some electric vehicle manufacturers have designed battery management systems with sensors and protective devices so that the battery will shut down when it turns into damage.

In addition, since lithium-ion batteries operate in the temperature range of 15 to 45 degrees Celsius, battery cooling systems are important to ensure efficient heat management, which will reduce the risk of fire.

There is therefore an important need to adopt recognized standards for EV batteries and recharging, with regulations that ensure manufacturers adhere to a common safety standard.

This will prevent a recurrence of what happened to personal mobility devices, which have seen a range of devices designed with inconsistent fire protection protocols.

LTA’s recent review of EVs and chargers is a step in the right direction. He has also established the National Center for Electric Vehicles, which will lead efforts to review regulations and standards for electric vehicles. All these measures give consumers peace of mind when buying an electric car.

In addition, EV’s main suggestion is that they are more environmentally friendly, but lithium-ion batteries are relatively difficult to recycle.

In addition to having significant backlog use in stationary energy storage applications, building specialized recycling facilities could be one way to help recycle batteries.

Singapore has recently implemented a regulated e-waste management system, which requires companies that import, produce EV and EV batteries in Singapore to be responsible for collecting and recycling batteries.

So what does it take to move a needle?

Few models available, high prices and a lack of charging stations – these are some of the key reasons that discourage car owners in Singapore from switching to electric vehicles.

In the end, when the cost of buying an EV becomes more affordable in the years to come, it will help the ladder to roll over further.

A good move would also be for the government to expand its incentives to plug-in hybrids, which would serve consumers as a kind of springboard for change as Singapore builds its infrastructure to charge electric vehicles.

The government must also step up its efforts in education to make Singaporeans realize the benefits of electric cars – they are not noisy, among other things, they do not require maintenance, they are environmentally friendly.

At the end of the day, the reality is that gasoline cars will become obsolete 20 years later, and we must learn to accept and adapt to this change.

Electric vehicles is a key content pillar for the Vulcan Post. You can find the rest of our EV coverage here.

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Highlight credit: SP Group

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