Electric cars

Essential to take care of all the details

The writer says that Singapore has to make sure there are enough electric car charging points, and that they are not all at some remote location.
The writer says that Singapore has to make sure there are enough electric car charging points, and that they are not all at some remote location.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

The recent measures that have been taken to increase electric car adoption in Singapore are laudable.

However, the devil is in the details, which are essential to close the loop, from buying to finally disposing of the vehicle.

First, the cost of ownership. Reducing the additional registration fee and the open market value of the car does reduce the cost of buying it.

Second, there are important infrastructure design issues to be addressed.

Singapore has to make sure charging points are not all at some remote location, and that there are enough of them.

Owners must also remove their cars when charging is done so as to avoid hogging the charging spaces. The spaces should be wide enough to ensure that charging cables do not damage adjacent cars and to accommodate different car sizes.

Singapore must also source the most efficient chargers, and adopt a single universal plug that it mandates all electric cars use, to avoid having to make multiple connectors at the charging points. Do not site washing points close to chargers, and there should be more fire extinguishers available.

Third, safety is paramount. The increase in household fires with the advent of personal mobility devices shows that people may resort to cheaper and uncertified equipment to charge their machines.

This will also be the case with electric cars, as some will try to pay less for chargers and batteries.

That means Singapore should make batteries cheaper to replace, and also ensure that only certified batteries are allowed, to prevent fires.

Last, and most important, is battery disposal.

Old batteries generate a lot of toxic chemicals, and some can cause explosions. Right now, the recycling and disposal industry here is still in its infancy.

Once Singapore increases the number of electric cars on the road, it must ramp up this industry.

And as electric cars are adopted by the rest of South-east Asia, Singapore can potentially become a regional centre for battery recycling and disposal.

If Singapore can close the loop and take care of electric cars from purchasing to charging and maintenance, and finally to disposal, it can pave the way for the future smoothly.

Peter Loon Seng Chee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2021, with the headline 'Essential to take care of all the details'. Subscribe