Budget debate: Get details on EV charging points right to drive greater adoption: Workers' Party MP

The target of 60,000 charging points by 2030 is more than double the original goal. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - While the revised target to build 60,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging points by 2030 is welcome, it will still be insufficient to drive the adoption of battery-powered cars if the authorities do not get the details right, said Mr Dennis Tan (Hougang).

The Workers' Party MP also raised several questions about implementation - from possible congestion at charging points due to current carpark designs, to the impact of EV charging on Singapore's electrical grid.

"While it is important to have a good number of charging points, we should also bear in mind that these numbers will be insufficient if we do not get the other details right," he said on Thursday (Feb 25) during the debate on the Budget statement.

The target of 60,000 charging points by 2030 is more than double the original goal of 28,000 charging points.

Mr Tan asked if the new charging points would support fast charging and if the EVs here could use such technology.

"Can we do it in one hour as opposed to eight or 12 hours perhaps, which we can expect from the domestic charging rate? Even at half an hour or one hour, will this be too slow and inconvenient for consumers who are used to spending five to 10 minutes in the petrol station?"

He also cautioned that as charging technology continues to improve, having a mix of older and newer EVs on the road could also limit how efficiently these charging stations are used.

Mr Tan also raised concerns about bottlenecks forming due to the current design of residential and commercial carparks, noting that Singaporeans do not have the luxury of charging their EVs in their own garages like in the United States or Australia, where most people live in landed homes.

He called on the Government to re-evaluate the design of existing carparks.

"Imagine a situation where you have 100 to 200 cars coming back after work to a HDB carpark, with each taking... 20 minutes to charge their car," he said.

"Until we reach the stage where every or most of the carpark lots come with a charging unit, most of the present... carparks are not adequately designed to prevent bottlenecks or congestion caused by more than a few cars waiting for the current few charging units available... We cannot afford the loss of productivity this will entail."

Mr Tan also asked about the impact of increased EV adoption on Singapore's power grid.

While there is currently a supply glut, he urged the Government to plan for additional electricity generation such that any step up in usage by EVs is smooth and sustainable, and asked how the Government intends to tackle this.

He also wanted to know the Government's position on the WP's suggestion last year to consider including battery swop stations as a complement to Singapore's EV charging infrastructure.

These stations, which have already been tested in China, have the advantage of speed, and would ensure that the load on Singapore's power grid can be managed well while providing ready infrastructure for battery recycling, Mr Tan said.

Opening Thursday's debate, Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) also raised concerns about EV charging infrastructure.

He said many building owners are not keen on installing EV charging points in existing carparks, as there is a mismatch between the current demand for EVs and the investment cost of installing charging infrastructure.

"Incentivising the continued investment to improve the technology is as important as incentivising car buyers to switch to EVs," Mr Gan said.

Mr Tan and his fellow WP MP Leon Perera (Aljunied GRC) also reiterated Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh's call on Wednesday to review the petrol tax hike and roll it out in phases, in tandem with EV adoption.

Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) said those who drive or bike for a living are hardest hit by the duty hike, and urged the Government to help this group transition to greener vehicles over time.

As electric motorcycles are much pricier than gas-powered ones, he asked if the Government could work with retailers and manufacturers to bring in cheaper models. He also hoped that electric motorbikes are taken into consideration when developing EV charging infrastructure as they take much longer to charge

Pointing to an expected lower demand for fuel, Mr Saktiandi also suggested working with petrol companies to convert pumps into EV charging points.

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