Electric Cars in Singapore: Yes or No?

Electric Cars in Singapore: Yes or No?

There has been much talk of electric cars in Singapore lately, especially with the news of LTA slapping a tax surcharge on the only Tesla S in Singapore. Many Singaporeans may be wondering if they should switch to an electric car, worrying that they may be penalised even though they are more environmentally friendly. We weigh the pros and cons of driving an electric car in Singapore.

Pros of Electric Cars in Singapore

Electric Car Charging Station
268:366 – Charge Me Up, RedBoy [Matt]

Lower “Fuel” Costs

An average annual mileage of a car in Singapore is 17,500km (as at 2014). The cost of recharging an electric car’s battery is about $5, and you can go up to 160km on a full charge, depending on the car model. This adds up to about $546.88 per year. On the other hand, a petrol-driven car with a 35-liter gas tank and can go about 350km on a full tank, will cost $3,143 per year! That amount is for regular 95-octane fuel at $1.80 a liter (as at 10 May). If you’re pumping 98-octane fuel, your petrol costs will be even higher. Furthermore, oil prices are volatile and petrol prices can go up during the year.

An electric car can save you more than $2,500 a year in petrol, so you can wave goodbye to the exorbitant fuel costs.

Lower Maintenance Costs

Contrary to popular belief, electric vehicles cost much less to maintain than petrol cars. The only servicing that an electric car needs is tyre rotation and brake fluid replacement. Compare this to a petrol car, which costs much more to maintain due to the hundreds of parts that require lubrication to continue running smoothly. With fewer moving parts, there is not much in an electric car motor that can wear out, compared to an internal combustion engine.

Electric Car in Singapoare
Singapore, jo.sau

Singapore’s Size and Infrastructure

In large countries such as the USA, electric cars tend to be more inconvenient as they have a limited range compared to petrol cars. Charging stations may not be as commonly found as gas stations, making it inconvenient for long drives. However, Singapore is small and most drivers only travel an average of 30 t0 50km daily. Electric cars suit Singaporeans as we do not make long drives often, with mostly short trips on a daily basis.

Numerous Electric Charging Stations

Many Singaporeans may not know that there are numerous public charging stations around Singapore. Although not as ubiquitous as petrol kiosks, the number of charging stations available on our tiny island means that electric car owners do not have to travel for hours just to charge their car. Charging your electric car here is actually quite convenient, contrary to popular belief.

Furthermore, 2,000 additional charging points will be installed in the near future, according to the LTA and EBD. This makes charging electric cars more accessible than ever.

Cons of Electric Cars in Singapore

Limited Car Models

In Singapore, vehicles running on petrol are still the norm. As such, car dealers do not bring in electric cars unless there is demand for them. With a limited range of models compared to petrol-driven cars, many Singaporeans naturally gravitate towards the latter. With a larger variety, consumers tend to find cars that boasts their preferred features, rather than choosing between the few models of electric cars available.

Nissan Leaf Charging Electric Vehicle in Singapore
Nissan Leaf 2012 9, Kārlis Dambrāns

Higher Upfront Costs

As of 2014, the open market value of an electric vehicle is around three times that of regular, petrol-driven cars. For a Nissan Leaf electric car that costs $200,000 in Singapore, its non-electric equivalent, the Nissan Sylphy, costs $110,000, based on May 2014 prices and after accounting for taxes and rebates.

This higher upfront cost may scare away potential buyers, as they may need to take a bigger loan if they buy an electric car instead of a regular car. This is despite savings in fuel and maintenance.

Unattractive Rebates

There is a Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle (CEV) Scheme that cars with low carbon emissions can enjoy, with rebates of up to $20,000. However, the rebates may not be effective in attracting more people to switch to electric cars, as the overall cost of owning a petrol-driven car is still cheaper than an electric car after rebates.

We believe that electric cars will work wonderfully in Singapore, given our small size and infrastructure. That said, the cost of owning an electric car is still too high for most people. We hope that in the near future, electric cars can be more affordable for Singaporeans, either through a revised tax scheme, or additional rebates. This can also encourage current petrol car drivers to switch once their COE has expired.