Singapore to trial electric car-sharing programme

JOY FANG Today Online 9 Dec 14;

SINGAPORE — Taking another step towards the large-scale adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) here, the Government announced yesterday that it is calling for a Request for Information (RFI) to trial a car-sharing programme involving 1,000 such vehicles and lasting up to a decade.

The RFI was issued by an inter-agency task force co-led by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Economic Development Board (EDB). The trial will enable the authorities to gain a deeper understanding of the operating models and support required for EVs to succeed on a larger scale here, the LTA and the EDB said in a joint press release. Having a shared fleet of EVs offers the potential of reaping economies of scale because of the higher daily mileage and potentially lower running cost, the task force said.

Concurrently, it aims to explore whether a one-way car-sharing model — in which users pick up cars at one place and return them at a different location — can be viable.

The RFI comes after the authorities completed the first phase of a test bed for EVs between June 2011 and December last year. During the earlier phase, 53 organisations — private firms, public agencies and higher institutes of learning — were involved, with 89 electric vehicles deployed and 71 charging stations installed islandwide. Two market perception surveys, as well as studies on the technical and economic feasibility of EV deployment, were conducted.

Transport experts expect the trial to be rolled out progressively in as soon as 18 months, given that the infrastructure is largely in place and needs only to be ramped up.

They added that the trial was a good way to introduce a greener mode of transport to commuters here and that the critical mass that could be achieved under the second phase might just be the step needed to kick-start the car-sharing movement here. However, there must be adequate infrastructure and support for companies, such as financial incentives, for it to take off, they said.

The RFI documents, which were put up on government procurement website GeBIZ, said companies were encouraged to form a consortium, comprising car-sharing operators, charging infrastructure service providers and EV manufacturers or providers, to submit a proposal.

Such a consortium will then be able to provide the hardware, software and maintenance services required to run this system.

Various models are being considered, such as a station-based model, where users park and charge their cars at designated car-sharing lots; a free-floating model, where users can park at any parking lot at public or private car parks, which may or may not have charging stations; or a hybrid model, which is a combination of the other two models.

Potential areas of coverage are Housing and Development Board (HDB) residential towns, the Central Business District and industrial estates and business parks. Commuters should be able to check the availability of the shared electric cars and book them online and via mobile apps. The closing date for submissions is Feb 27 at noon.

The analysts noted that the Government had to lessen the cost burden by providing incentives, such as free charging stations to companies. If it costs a lot of money to implement, the costs will be passed on to consumers, which would affect demand, said Dr Park Byung Joon, SIM University’s urban transport expert.

Currently, EVs are not sold in the open market, but they can be registered by companies, institutes and government agencies. They are exempt from Certificate of Entitlement (COE) premiums.

Professor Lee Der-Horng of the National University of Singapore (NUS) suggested that under the second phase, the authorities waive the COE and Additional Registration Fee for businesses looking to bring EVs in. The HDB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority can also make it easier by easing regulations or quickening the approval process for companies to install charging stations. Sufficient charging points at major activity centres is also crucial, he said.

Smaller EV trials have been conducted here, including the Autonomous Electric Shuttle and Toyota’s micro EV Auto Body COMS that are deployed in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and NUS, respectively. NTU Associate Professor Gopinath Menon noted that the larger scale of the car-sharing trial will result in greater economies of scale and make EVs more affordable.

Dr Park said a one-way car-sharing model could be challenged during peak periods, when traffic usually flows in one direction — from the suburbs to the city or vice-versa. This may result in a poor distribution of available EVs as most cars will be either in the city areas in the morning or at the suburbs in the evening.

Electric vehicles ‘not economically feasible yet’
XUE JIANYUE Today Online 9 Dec 14;

SINGAPORE — Analysis of data from the first phase of the Republic’s 30-month test bed for electric vehicles (EVs) has found that while the deployment of EVs is suitable here, such vehicles are not economically feasible for adoption, even after taking into account the health and environmental benefits to society, the authorities said yesterday.

The first phase, conducted by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Energy Market Authority, was carried out between 2011 and last year. A joint press release by the LTA and the Economic Development Board (EDB) said surveys done before and after the test bed found that participants were concerned about the purchase price of EVs, the availability of personal and public charging infrastructure as well as the limitations of the technology — such as the range, battery life and time taken to charge the vehicles.

A cost-benefit analysis found that the use of EVs is technically feasible here. For example, the average EV daily driving distance was 46km — close to the national daily average of 50km for a regular passenger car and much lower than the EV manufacturers’ reported range of between 120km and 160km per charge. One of the EVs recorded a distance of 156km on a single charge.

It was also found that the impact of charging EVs on Singapore’s electricity grid was insignificant. Studies by TUM CREATE — a joint research programme between Technische Universitat Munchen in Germany and Nanyang Technological University — showed that if all private cars here were assumed to be EVs, the daily load on the power system would increase by 4.8 per cent.

However, EVs are still not economically feasible here. The open market value of an EV is around three times that of regular cars. “As the current tax structure for vehicles in Singapore is ad valorem and progressive, this results in a greater tax burden for an EV,” the LTA and the EDB said.

After accounting for taxes and rebates under the Carbon Emissions-Based Vehicle Scheme, a Nissan Leaf EV costs S$200,000, while its non-electric equivalent Nissan Sylphy ICEV costs S$110,000, based on May prices.

Nevertheless, the LTA and the EDB noted that similar to the development of hybrid vehicles, the prices of EVs are expected to fall as the cost of the technology continues to decline and mass production achieves economies of scale.

Car-sharing firm smove, which started operations almost four years ago, operates on a small-scale EV car-sharing model. It has six EVs on its books, on top of 16 hybrid cars. Adding that the firm has temporarily suspended the usage of its EVs, its spokesman cited several obstacles to the adoption of EVs here, such as a lack of public education on such cars and an inadequate charging infrastructure. More charging stations should be located at residential and commercial hubs, for a start, he said.

Currently, charging service provider Bosch runs 71 charging stations on the island, with the majority found in west and central Singapore.

iCarsclub general manager Navin Kumar noted that young drivers usually start with driving vehicles owned by their parents and tend to stick to petrol-powered cars. To break the habit, EVs must be cheaper than regular cars, he said.

LTA, EDB seek proposals for electric vehicle sharing programme
Channel NewsAsia 8 Dec 14;

SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Economic Development Board (EDB) have announced plans to trial an electric vehicle (EV) sharing programme.

In a press release issued on Monday (Dec 8), the inter-agency Electro-Mobility Singapore (EMS) taskforce - co-led by the LTA and EDB - said it is now seeking proposals for an EV car-sharing programme. It will see the introduction of up to 1,000 EVs and the development of charging infrastructure for such vehicles.

The taskforce aims to explore whether a one-way car-sharing model, in which users pick up cars at one point and return them at a different destination, can be viable. Checking for the availability of and booking of the shared electric cars will be done through online and mobile applications.

The trial will allow the Government to better understand the models and support required for EVs to succeed in Singapore.

Up to 5 per cent of the EV fleet will be used to test cutting-edge technologies such as smart sensors, driverless vehicles and advanced charging solutions that include wireless inductive charging.

Singapore concluded the first-phase of the national EV test-bed which focused on individual corporate users last year. The test-bed will now go into a second phase to explore fleet-based shared car operations.

"Compared to privately-owned EVs, EV shared-car fleets have the potential of reaping economies of scale with higher daily mileage and potentially lower running cost," EDB and LTA said.

"The pilot will help Singapore to be a regional leader in developing new technologies and innovative business models in the electric vehicles and associated charging infrastructure landscape," said Mr Yeoh Keat Chuan, managing director of EDB.

"This is also aligned with Singapore’s position as a Living Lab to develop smart sustainable city solutions that can eventually be exported to other cities in Asia and beyond.”

LTA’s chief executive, Mr Chew Men Leong, said the car-sharing initiative could be a step towards a "car-lite" society. "We are also evaluating if one-way car-sharing can possibly complement Singapore’s existing public transport system by serving as a first mile/last mile connector to public transport nodes," he said.

- CNA/ac