EV drivers can check availability of charging points in real time under MyTransport.SG app

LTA said it is working with more charging operators to include their charger data under the trial. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Electric vehicle (EV) drivers can now check in real time if some 700 charging points are available on the MyTransport.SG mobile app.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) introduced the new feature on Nov 28 that allows app users to do so, in a move to include information on the real-time availability of EV chargers.

It said users can obtain such information for almost half of the approximately 1,400 charging points listed on the app – these belong to ComfortDelGro Engie and SP Mobility, the first two operators to come on board.

LTA said the feature is a beta function that users can try out, and that it is working with more charging operators to include their charger data. Transport Minister S. Iswaran had mentioned the feature in November when Parliament debated the EV Charging Bill.

There are currently nine operators listed on the MyTransport.SG app, each with its own independent apps and payment arrangements.

In all, there are more than 3,600 charging points, with another 12,000 to be installed across all Housing Board carparks by 2025. Singapore plans to roll out 60,000 charging points islandwide by 2030.

Currently, motorists have to sign up with individual EV charging services to know the location and availability of chargers, which is an inconvenience.

At this stage, it can take several minutes for the charger status to be reflected on the MyTransport.SG app. Head of mobility at SP Group, Mr Dean Cher, said the operator and LTA are working to shorten the lag for the availability information to show up on the app, to get it “as close as possible to real-time information” in 2023.

Some smaller EV charging companies see the value of being on the MyTransport.SG app. Airetec said it has just started the process to get its 10 charging locations listed on the app to reach EV users who would otherwise not know of them.

EV owner William Fletcher, 55, vice-president of sales at a commercial kitchen, welcomed the new feature, saying it would be more accurate than the PlugShare app that he currently uses. The independent app relies on user contributions for charger information and does not show real-time availability.

Associate professor of economics Walter Theseira at the Singapore University of Social Sciences said putting charger location and availability information on LTA’s MyTransport.SG app will be useful for “professional motorists” like taxi and private-hire car drivers, who need to charge up multiple times a day. These drivers will want to know where the available fast chargers are, he said.

“I suspect that for most motorists, especially those with families, their use patterns tend to be quite consistent over time. Once they learn about charging availability and patterns, they are set and won’t need much new information,” he added.

Prof Theseira would like to see the LTA-owned app used to activate charging and handle payment, instead of using the charging operator’s individual app platforms.

The EV charging law includes a provision that allows LTA to require companies offering charging services to provide payment modes that do not require a user to register for an account.

One concern raised by respondents during public consultations for the EV Charging Bill was the issue of users hogging charging points.

Several MPs had flagged this issue as well in Parliament, with some suggesting imposing “idle fees” to discourage EV users from leaving their vehicles in the spaces when they are not charging.

Mr Doong Shiwen, general manager at Shell Mobility Singapore, said considerate charging etiquette will be important, and that features such as imposing idling fees or enabling a user to book an EV charger are technologically possible.

In Malaysia, for example, Shell’s EV charging customers can reserve a charging bay for up to 60 minutes using a third-party app.

Shell, which began offering EV charging in Singapore in 2019 with a station in Sengkang, was among five companies awarded the tender in November to install EV chargers in HDB carparks.

Over the next 10 years, it will deploy up to 4,847 charging points in 415 HDB carparks located in the north and north-east regions of Singapore. It currently offers EV charging at 21 Shell stations and an additional 150 charging points in shopping malls and offices through its Shell Recharge app.

The MyTransport.SG app in its current iteration was launched in 2018 to help commuters plan their transport journeys.

In March 2022, it added information about EV charging locations. Users have been able to filter the charging network by charging speed since August.

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