Budget debate: MPs raise concerns over charging points, costs in S'pore's electric vehicle push

Several MPs flagged the potential high cost of EVs, which they said could be a deterrent to mass adoption.
Several MPs flagged the potential high cost of EVs, which they said could be a deterrent to mass adoption.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - MPs on Wednesday (March 3) raised concerns on issues such as charging infrastructure and the affordability of electric vehicles (EVs), as Singapore pushes for more widespread adoption of battery-powered cars.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) urged the Government to consider making it compulsory for Housing Board estates, condominiums and office buildings to provide a minimum number of charging points in their carparks, so that drivers can charge their cars easily.

The Land Transport Authority could consider some form of incentives, he adding during the debate on the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment's budget.

Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) questioned whether EVs may become so popular that potential buyers find there are insufficient charging points in their estate.

On the flip side, he also voiced concern that the Government may be "over-building" by aiming to install 60,000 charging points islandwide by 2030, should the initial adoption of EVs not be as high as hoped for.

Echoing this concern, Mr Melvin Yong (Radin Mas) asked if the Government has factored in the rapid development of EV batteries, given the recent revival in swoppable battery technology, and battery-as-a-service solutions.

For EVs that use such technology, battery packs are separated from the vehicle and vehicle owners have to pay only when they swop their batteries.

"Will this make fixed charging points irrelevant in years to come?" Mr Yong asked.

He also wanted to know if Singapore's power grid can cope with the additional load from charging EVs.

Several MPs also flagged the potential high cost of EVs, which they said could be a deterrent to mass adoption.

Recounting how he had wanted to buy a hybrid model of a car several years ago but was told it cost nearly $10,000 more than the regular model, Mr Lim said: "We need to take a holistic look at the pricing of the cars such that we can effectively encourage car buyers to opt for cleaner-energy cars."

He suggested lowering taxes on electric cars or hybrids, so that a similar model would cost either the same or less than an internal combustion engine vehicle.

Mr Ang Wei Neng (West Coast GRC), who is chief executive of ComfortDelGro Taxi, said the move to reduce the minimum additional registration fee payable for EVs from $5,000 to zero is a welcome one for large fleet owners such as his company.

However, he noted that the selling price of an EV is "still significantly higher than mass market hybrid vehicles, which makes it hard for mass market adoption".

Taking a further step to waive all statutory charges related to EVs, including import duty, will help to further reduce costs, he added.

Mr Xie Yao Quan (Jurong GRC) wanted to know about the Government's plans to drive greater adoption of EVs in the taxi and private hire sectors, as well as for logistics companies.

Nominated MP Koh Lian Pin asked about the net carbon emissions savings in transitioning to cleaner-energy vehicles, if the nation were to continue relying primarily on natural gas.

He also asked if the ministry will consider additional milestones as "indicators of success" towards achieving its 2030 target of requiring all newly registered vehicles to be of cleaner energy models, and for the 2040 target of having only cleaner-energy vehicles on the road.