Electric vehicles less pollutive, but not the most sustainable mode of transport: Ong Ye Kung

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said it is important that charging points are made available to those who decide to switch to EVs.
Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said it is important that charging points are made available to those who decide to switch to EVs.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - In promoting wider adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) here, Singapore must be careful not to go overboard, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Friday (March 12).

Public transport is still the most sustainable way to get around the island, he added, noting that the Government is investing more than $60 billion over the next decade to expand and renew the rail network.

The minister, in an interview with Money FM 89.3, was asked whether success in getting Singaporeans to use battery-powered cars could lead to congestion and other issues.

"You can have EVs that are actually not that environmentally friendly. The very big EVs literally carry a tonne of battery around, so you're burning energy to carry energy around," said Mr Ong.

Noting that these batteries have metals that also need to be disposed of, he added that driving an EV does not mean one is contributing to the environment, "just that you are polluting less".

Mr Ong also highlighted the cap on vehicle population growth here, which remains in place until at least next year.

This means that even as more people start to use EVs, there will not be more vehicles on the road.

Discussing the new incentives to make battery-powered vehicles more attractive, Mr Ong said it is important that charging points are made available to those who decide to switch to EVs.

He added that regulations governing EV charging standards should also evolve.

The installation of EV charging points needs to be ramped up and tenders will be put up, starting with the eight public estates that have been earmarked as EV-ready towns.

As part of the revised target to build 60,000 charging points here by 2030, every Housing Board carpark in the eight towns will be fitted with charging points by 2025.

The eight EV-ready towns are: Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong West, Punggol, Queenstown, Sembawang and Tengah.

Mr Ong said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will also take over the Energy Market Authority's (EMA) role as regulator of EV charging standards, pending approval from Parliament.

While the EMA is more concerned about power supply and reliability, the LTA will look more at market and industry development, he added.

"We can work with the industry and find the right rules... What plugs to use, can you carry your own cable in your car - these are rules that need to be sorted out."

On the move to cease new registrations of diesel cars and taxis from 2025, Mr Ong said the Government had been in conversation with taxi operators before the announcement.

"This rule is for new registrations, so it doesn't affect the existing diesel taxis. There has been very low, or in fact, no diesel taxi registrations recently.

"So I think the operators have already adapted well, and many of them are in fact moving to cleaner models," he said.

Around six in 10 taxis on Singapore's roads today are hybrids or EVs, up from just 18 per cent three years ago.