Forum: Remove barriers to switch to electric vehicles in Singapore

Vehicles along Jalan Eunos, on Nov 5, 2019.
Vehicles along Jalan Eunos, on Nov 5, 2019.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Recently, the Government announced that the Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES) would be extended in the hope that car buyers would be encouraged to purchase cleaner car models (VES extended by a year in push for cleaner cars, Oct 31).

The outcome of the scheme has been rather disappointing thus far and I believe it is clear as to why - VES rebates are not sufficient to nudge consumers away from regular cars.

The VES needs to be further revised; otherwise, the Government must adopt a different strategy to achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions.

According to the National Climate Change Secretariat, a switch to electric vehicles (EVs) would help Singapore significantly cut its emissions. Unfortunately, based on statistics provided by the Land Transport Authority, EVs in Singapore account for a mere 0.2 per cent of the total car population today.

Moving forward, I wish to see more initiatives aimed at increasing the number of EVs on Singapore's roads.

One of the barriers to EVs is the lack of private charging stations in condominiums and Housing Board estates. To address this, the Government must invest in sufficient numbers of charging stations in residential carparks to encourage potential EV buyers to make the switch.

Another prominent issue is the lack of information on charging point locations. This information would address "range anxiety" and the fear of running on partial charge among EV drivers. Another potential solution to expand this charging network would be to install charging stations at existing petrol stations.

Furthermore, there are concerns regarding the battery lifespan and high cost of EVs. However, according to Wearnes Automotive, consumers actually enjoy an increase in savings in terms of fuel and servicing costs.

Some companies offer attractive battery replacement or warranty terms to address lifespan concerns. By having effective advertising and consumer education regarding the benefits of EVs compared with regular vehicles, it can help ease the concerns of potential buyers and encourage the switch.

More focus should also be placed on the public transport sector. The Government should do what it can in reducing carbon emissions by spearheading the adoption of electric public buses and taxis. Such a strategy could help encourage public acceptance towards EVs in the long run.

Loh Yu Kang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2019, with the headline 'Remove barriers to switch to electric vehicles in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe