LTA plans roadmap for adoption of electric vehicles

It will assess the benefits and costs, and identify the gaps in technology

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) plans to develop a technology roadmap to help chart a course towards the adoption of electric vehicles in the future.

It is seeking a consultant to produce what it called an "electro-mobility" research roadmap which will assess the benefits of having electric vehicles, identify technological gaps and challenges, as well as make policy recommendations.

This comes several months after a test to gauge the viability of electric vehicles was completed. Data from the test is currently being reviewed, and will be used to formulate plans for further trials.

Asked about how the roadmap will help with the adoption of electric cars in the long term, an LTA spokesman said it has not set any targets yet.

"Ultimately, whether a new technology succeeds or not will depend on the market," she said. "We will continue to monitor global trends and see how the market evolves."

According to the new study's terms of reference, the roadmap has several main objectives, including providing a blueprint to enable electric vehicle technologies, concepts and solutions up to 2050.

It should describe the challenges Singapore would face in building an electro-mobility ecosystem, relating to the power grid sector, charging infrastructure and consumer acceptance, for instance.

The roadmap is supposed to include an assessment of the economic and environmental benefits, and the costs involved in the large-scale adoption of electric vehicles.

And it should also have recommendations on how to spur the use of electric vehicles, including through government regulations, if there are significant benefits to Singapore.

This research roadmap is funded by the National Research Foundation, and should be completed by the second quarter of next year.

Dr Park Byung Joon, head of the urban transport management programme at SIM University, believes the move shows the LTA is more serious about building infrastructure for electric vehicles on a larger scale.

For such vehicles to be practical, it should be as easy to access electrical charging points as it is a petrol station, he said.

However, he pointed out that getting private car owners to go electric will depend largely on cost, and current electric vehicles are usually more costly than those with conventional petrol and diesel engines.

Dr Park feels it is more feasible to implement an electric vehicle network for public transport, such as buses. He cited how Shenzhen in China adopted public electric buses and taxis in 2010.

"I do not see any serious practical problem in running public electric bus services in Singapore," he said. "The question is how much investment we are willing to put in to have such services."

roysim@sph.com.sg