SINGAPORE - Imagine stepping into an electric car in your neighbourhood carpark, driving it to multiple locations in a day, and finally parking it at your last destination for someone else to use.
This would become possible from as early as the middle of next year, when the first fleet of 125 electric cars hit the road under the islandwide Electric Vehicle (EV) Car-Sharing Programme by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Economic Development Board (EDB).
Ang Mo Kio, Jurong East and Punggol will be among the first Housing Board towns to have 50 EV stations and 250 charging points installed.
On Thursday afternoon (June 30), Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan officially signed BlueSG, a subsidiary of the French Bollore Group, to operate the electric car fleet under the programme.
By 2020, 1,000 electric cars will be rolled out across Singapore, powered by 2,000 charging points located in every neighbourhood, the Central Business District and key industrial areas. There will be 500 BlueSG stations, of which 80 per cent will be located in residential areas.
"We are small and our population is densely packed. Pollution from vehicles therefore has an especially adverse impact on the quality of our living environment and our health," Mr Khaw said in his opening address at the LTA Auditorium, where the 10-year contract was inked.
Said Vice-President of Bollore Group Cedric Bollore: "Blue SG will not only bring a significant contribution to the quality of the environment, it will also introduce a new way of commuting in Singapore, open to everyone, extremely easy to use and affordable."
Bollore Group currently operates Autolib, the world's largest fully electric car-sharing programme in Paris, France, with a fleet of 4,000 electric cars and 130,000 regular users. It also has operations in Indianapolis, United States and Torino, Italy.
The Group was selected from 13 participants in a Request of Information exercise in December 2014 for the quality of its proposal and strong track record, Mr Khaw noted.
And while the parties have declined to share the cost involved to implement the programme, The Straits Times understands that it will be co-funded by the Government.
Unlike existing car-sharing operations, BlueSG will operate on a one-way model that will allow users the flexibility and convenience to return the EV at his or her destination, instead of the original location where it was picked up from.
"This is more convenient for the user, and also suits the electric car which has a shorter range," Mr Khaw said.
Up to 20 per cent of the 2,000 charging points will be open to the public, laying the foundation to support greater use of electrical vehicles here. Eventually, the Government will take over all the charging points.
Singapore will adopt the European Type 2 standard as the national charging standard to ensure that all EVs on the roads can be plugged into any of the charging points.
As compared to Type 1, used mainly in Japan and US, Type 2 has a faster charging speed and capitalise on the country's three-phase power supply.
BlueSG will also be part of the world's first Open Innovation Platform that involves a large scale vehicle fleet, which will enable local and foreign companies and research organisations to develop and test various mobility technologies.
BlueSG will also set up a Global Innovation Centre to undertake research and development work in the areas of mobility and energy management solutions. It hopes to create some 250 jobs in the first five years of the programme.
Its Asia-Pacific headquarters will also be based in Singapore to oversee its electrical mobility business for the region.