Big changes on the horizon portend an increasing number of electric vehicles on the streets of Singapore. One of the largest transportation providers in Singapore, ComfortDelGro, recently signed a contract with Hyundai to procure 2000 electric vehicles by the first half of 2020. This means one of the largest fleets in the area will get a big electric overhaul, marking a tide change in the kind of cars that are on the streets right now.
At the moment, electric vehicles are not the most popular in Singapore. The cost for an individual to purchase one of these cars is still prohibitively high, and many models that are available simply are not ideal for driving on the tight city streets of Singapore.
There is also a general consensus among car drivers that the EV charging infrastructure still needs to grow a lot more before the cars will become practical to use. Unless you have a way to use power from your own home to plug in your EV, the difficulty of finding a station might prove overwhelming.
However, despite these concerns, ComfortDelGro is still looking to expand its fleet with more electric vehicles and they are not alone. Ride-share company Blue SG has been growing its all-electric fleet of vehicles since their company was founded in 2017. They have over 400 EVs on the roads in Singapore already and are looking to more than double that in the next few years.
EVs in popular culture
The increase in the preponderance of electric vehicles won’t just be achieved through tax incentives, though. The older combustion engines will only leave the roads when people generally start to think of EVs as being the smarter, better option. For that reason, it is important to keep track of events that put the public in touch with electric vehicles.
In May 2019, Giti Tire sponsored a race for all-electric touring vehicles in China. Cars competed in an SUV format where each vehicle could perform using only electric power. The cars used specially outfitted tires from sponsor Giti and showcased the power that these electric vehicles have available to them.
Seeing electric vehicles even at the highest echelons of racing shows consumers that these cars can perform up to the same standards as combustion engines. Of course, the average commuter will never need to pass another car while driving 150 mph, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want a car that’s capable of such a feat.
The electric vehicle tour might well do as much or more work than simple tax incentives to encourage a consumer to consider electric vehicles.
Achieving price parity
One of the problems that push people away from purchasing an electric vehicle is the relative price of the EV to a traditional combustion engine car. Especially in Southeast Asia, the EV can be much more expensive than the traditional car. Even with cost savings over time due to the fact the EV doesn’t use gasoline are often not enough for consumers to make the switch.
All around the world, though, prices on electric vehicles are coming down. Key components like the battery system are becoming cheaper and easier to produce every day, meaning that very soon we will live in a world where consumers have comparable electric and gasoline vehicles at the same price point.
That trend has been moving a bit slower in Southeast Asia than in other parts of the world, though. In many countries, the government heavily subsidizes both the production and the purchase of an electric vehicle as part of their policy to fight carbon emissions. Asian nations like Singapore have historically been lagging behind in that arena, meaning their citizens shoulder more of the burden of the cost of this kind of car.
That is beginning to change, though. Just in the past year, Singapore’s government instituted new subsidies for both all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles under the country’s carbon-emissions legislation. People who purchase new electric vehicles can receive over USD $14,000 in the form of a rebate, which is sure to help make the cars more attractive.
Building EV infrastructure
One area to watch when it comes to the EV market in Singapore is the development of more public charging stations in car parks. Some companies like SP group have already taken steps on their own to help push more of these stations out to the public.
But more needs to be done, and it will be difficult to address this problem with only government action. Successful governments work with land developers to incentivize them to keep green infrastructure in mind when undertaking new construction. For example, incentivizing companies to reserve space in their car parks for EV charging would help a lot more stations get produced.
A long way to go
Singapore currently lags behind other nations in terms of adopting electric vehicles. Well over 98% of the cars on the street in Singapore right now are combustion engine cars. Compare that with the top adopter Norway, where 10% of cars on the road are electric and about half of all new car sales are electric cars.
Changes to the policies and the attitudes surrounding these cars will go a long way to changing the direction of new car sales, but it’ll still be some time before the balance on the streets changes very much. Absent some extreme top-down directives, this shift in the market will be a generational one, taking place slowly as younger consumers grow into a dominant position in the marketplace.
Bringing it all together
The next few years will be very interesting ones in terms of how the addition of electric vehicles affects Singapore’s car market. Will the ride-share and transportation cars already on the road be a harbinger of what is to come, or will they fail to catch on? It’s difficult to say at this time, but it is clear that the global sentiment is that EVs represent an important step in reducing climate emissions, so the smart money is on seeing more of them in the future.
This article was submitted by Giti Tires.