SMRT subsidiary ties up with China EV digital platform

Move to find viable ways to provide electric vehicle services in Singapore and the region

SMRT's Strides Transportation and China's DST Electric Vehicle Rental (Shenzhen) have signed a memorandum of understanding. The move is a key part of SMRT's programme to provide end-to-end solutions using electric vehicles.
SMRT's Strides Transportation and China's DST Electric Vehicle Rental (Shenzhen) have signed a memorandum of understanding. The move is a key part of SMRT's programme to provide end-to-end solutions using electric vehicles. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

A subsidiary of SMRT has tied up with the largest commercial electric vehicle (EV) digital platform in China to find viable ways to provide EV services in Singapore and the region.

Under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed yesterday, China's DST Electric Vehicle Rental (Shenzhen) will provide SMRT's Strides Transportation with the EVs. Strides will work with customers in Singapore and South-east Asia to establish a profitable EV-leasing model.

They did not specify how much money will go into the project, but said they are working towards forming a joint venture company.

There are also no specified models for now, but the two are keeping it open, with the aim of "advancing the acceleration of electric vehicle adoption" and "developing and providing sustainable urban mobility solutions for customers in Singapore".

Mr Tan Kian Heong, president of SMRT Road Holdings, which owns Strides, said the collaboration is a key part of SMRT's programme to provide end-to-end solutions using EVs.

In April, SMRT announced its plan to have a full fleet of electric taxis by 2025. It also recently tied up with energy utilities firm SP Group to give EV drivers and corporate customers access to high-speed chargers around Singapore.

"We aim to establish a strong foothold in Singapore, and progressively expand into South-east Asia," Mr Tan said.

DST founder and chief executive Zhang Hai Ying said the agreement helps DST exploit the overseas market.

DST has operated in China for six years, offering rentals of electric lorries and vans. It has charging sites and maintenance stations across China, with its digital platform helping drivers to monitor vehicle and battery data as well as collect route information.

This MOU with Strides is its first time working outside of China.

"Carbon neutrality is a common goal for all mankind, and sustainable transportation plays a major role," Ms Zhang said in a statement. "This cooperation is our giant step of exploiting the overseas market."

According to management consultancy Bain & Company, Asean member countries currently lag behind China, Europe and the United States in electric vehicle adoption.

This is due to the lack of EVs, the vehicles being unattractive to consumers financially and an underdeveloped charging infrastructure.

However, Bain & Company expects annual new investment in passenger EVs in the region to hit US$6 billion (S$7.9 billion) by 2030.

Countries like Singapore and Thailand, where fuel costs are higher, are expected to lead the charge. Commercial fleet owners could play a big role in developing their own charging infrastructure due to higher cost savings.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2021, with the headline SMRT subsidiary ties up with China EV digital platform. Subscribe