Imagine this: You’re standing by the roadside, and all you hear is the low hum of tires brushing along the asphalt. Take a breath, and all you smell is the scent of rain in the air.
No roaring of engines, and no pungent fumes from the car exhaust – the roads are quieter and the air less polluted than ever before as internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles have now been replaced with electric vehicles (EVs).
This may soon be the reality, with Singapore planning to phase out ICE vehicles and have all vehicles run on cleaner energy by 2040. This will see Singapore reducing carbon emissions by up to 2 million tonnes, about 4% of total national emissions currently.
The road to phasing out ICE vehicles
A comprehensive EV Roadmap was introduced as part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, designed to ramp up EV adoption. The roadmap covers three main areas: vehicle taxes and incentives, EV charger deployment, and regulations and standards.
For instance, road tax was revised downwards at the beginning of this year, and incentives and rebates were introduced to defray the upfront cost gap of EVs as compared to ICE cars. Additionally, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) also aims to deploy 60,000 EV charging points by 2030, with 40,000 in public carparks and the remaining 20,000 in private premises.
Nevertheless, many challenges are still present as Singapore pursues its goal of having 100% clean energy vehicles on the roads.
Challenges in the road to EV adoption
As of June 2021, there were 1,549 electric cars registered in Singapore, making up a mere 0.2% of total cars. For numbers to increase, numerous challenges need to be overcome. Channel NewsAsia highlighted three in particular: few available models, high prices, and a lack of charging stations.
The former two hurdles will likely be crossed with time, as more automotive manufacturers enters the industry. Already, several international automakers are committing to creating a full-electric fleet in time, and a myriad of new EV models are being released annually.
As battery technology improves over the years and competition in the EV space ramps up, the cost of EVs will likely be pushed downwards as well. In the short- to medium-term, the price differential between EVs and ICE vehicles are already being bridged by government incentives.
Today, Singaporeans who wish to get an EV can enjoy grants of up to S$45,000 in rebates if they purchase an EV.
However, a lack of charging stations may prove more challenging to overcome. Singapore’s small land area and dense, affluent population may mean a prolonged shortage of EV chargers, particularly in high density areas.
With 60,000 chargers by 2030, the ratio of EVs to chargers will be approximately 5 to 1, assuming one-third of cars on the roads are EVs. Consequently, a faster rate of EV adoption will result in a greater shortage of charging points.
This is further exacerbated by the current battery charging technology available in Singapore, with slow charging speeds causing longer wait times. A typical EV charger today takes approximately 6 to 8 hours to fully charge a vehicle. Meanwhile, high-speed chargers can charge a vehicle in approximately 30 minutes, but are much more limited in quantity.
How then can Singapore successfully pave the way to an EV-dominant future?
Introducing localised EV charging solutions
Unlike other countries hopping on board the EV bandwagon, Singapore presents the unique challenge of having a small land area and highly dense population. Thus, chargers within the city-state will likely face relatively higher demand.
To address this, Watt developed Watt360 – an end-to-end consultancy for EV hardware set-up and management. The Watt360 solution aims to make it easy for facilities to install EV chargers and improve the user experience of EV drivers.
A key concern for facilities is the need to retrofit chargers into existing commercial and residential properties, whose current electrical load may be insufficient to support EV chargers. Upgrading may end up costing more than the charger itself.
Watt avoids this issue through its dynamic load balancing system. This optimises existing charging loads to safely balance and distribute power to all charging vehicles. Thus, properties can safely and easily increase the number of charging points in parking spaces without needing to increase the electrical load.
For drivers, Watt created a mobile app catered to the local market. The app allows users to make reservations, join a queue, and incentivises them to move their cars once it is fully charged. These features are designed to alleviate charging anxiety in EV owners and provide greater convenience.
A green future awaits us as Singapore progresses towards phasing out ICE vehicles and switching to EVs. The journey to an EV future is not easy, but with combined effort from solution providers, automakers, policy makers, and consumers, it may arrive sooner than we expect.