Singapore's first large-scale electric-vehicle (EV) sharing programme will be rolled out from December.
With it, users will be able to rent a battery-powered car from various locations across the island, drive it and return it to a charging station near their destination.
The zero-emission fleet will have 80 two-door hatchbacks for a start, spread across 30 charging locations, each with four carpark spaces with charging points.
These updates were jointly announced yesterday by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and BlueSG, the subsidiary of France's Bollore Group, which is building the charging facilities and supplying the green vehicles.
The goal is to have 1,000 EVs along with 500 charging stations - amounting to 2,000 charging points - by 2020.
The programme was meant to begin last month, but was delayed.
BlueSG managing director Franck Vitte explained yesterday: "All the processes to get the authorisation for constructing the (charging) stations have been something entirely new in Singapore, not only for us, but for everyone... the parking agencies, SPPG (SP PowerGrid), et cetera." Trenching and laying of power cables were also needed.
Eighteen of the charging locations will be in public housing estates, 10 in the city, and the other two at one-north and Science Park. These carparks are owned by agencies such as the Housing Board and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
Noting that he is "pretty confident" of meeting the 2020 target, Mr Vitte said: "Things have been streamlined and ironed out with the various parties."
While BlueSG said yesterday that the rental rates will be revealed closer to December, earlier news reports have given a ballpark of less than $10 for a 15-minute trip.
Yesterday, BlueSG also opened its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Science Park Drive to oversee its electro-mobility and energy management businesses in the region.
Dr Sanjay C. Kuttan of Nanyang Technological University's Energy Research Institute expects interest in the EV-sharing programme to be keen at the start due to its novelty.
"The challenges will be around routing. Charging stations must be placed correctly so there are enough people plying a particular route," he said.
Dr Kuttan said commuters will eventually "do the maths", weighing the trade-offs of the extra travelling time to return a car at a fixed spot.
Engineer Chris Chan, 29, said he was keen to give the EVs a test drive, but said the car's size could be too small for families. "Still, it is good that Singapore is stepping up with these green initiatives."
Inside BlueSG's electric car. http://str.sg/49q2