Is Singapore about to embrace the electric vehicle trend?
Global Electric Vehicle (EV) sales are gaining momentum, and grew an impressive 50% in 2015. Virtually all Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car companies have already launched, or plan to launch an EV.
Cumulative global sales are now estimated at about 1.3 million units, led by the US with just under 300,000 units, Japan at 108,000, and China 84,000. Looking at penetration rates, Norway leads by far, with 23% of sales in 2015 being EVs. EV sales as a percentage of total car sales are still under 1%, but rising fast.
Number of Plug in EVs sold pa globally
Projected EV sales – 2015-2020
Global plug in Electric Vehicle (EVs) sales are growing rapidly from a low base
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has conservatively forecast that by 2020, total worldwide sales of EVs will have reached almost 6 million units. Given China's target alone for 2020 is 5 million EVs, the total global EV market could well exceed 10 million units by then.
IEA EV sales forecasts
China EV sales set to grow the fastest
China’s proposed ten-fold increase in its 2020 EV target to 5 million units also includes plans to speed up the construction of charging stations. By 2020, China should have 10 million electric charging stations.
Stanford lecturer Tony Seba in his book “Clean energy disruption” believes we will have 100% electric transportation and 100% solar by 2030. He states that electric cars have much better torque (acceleration) and their engine is more efficient and can last longer than ICEs. He also forecasts by 2017-2019 mass adoption of electric cars will begin, as prices for 200 mile range EVs will have fallen to about US$35,000 (Tesla model 3). By 2020 the electric car will become cheaper than the ICE car.
A recent study reported by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, estimated that by 2040, EVs will account for 35% of all car sales by volume, or around 41 million EV unit sales pa.
Singapore is a small island, so in theory, ideally suited to EVs. Yet adoption has been slow compared to its neighbors Hong Kong and China, let alone to Norway. This has been mostly for two reasons –
- Limited availability of EVs for sale, and the exceptionally high prices. As an example, the BMWi3 EV sells for a staggering price tag in excess of S$200,000 (equivalent to over US$140,000)
- A lack of charging stations, especially high speed superchargers
Why Singapore in particular should adopt EVs
- EVs reduce air pollution and noise and are therefore environmental friendly.
- EVs fit well with Singapore’s image as a “smart”, “high tech” city.
- Singapore could become a model “smart & green city” – the first country in the world to have an all-electric fleet of vehicles (cars, trucks, taxis, and buses). This would help boost tourism.
- According to the Singapore government’s feasibility study on adopting EVs, led by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and Land Transport Authority (LTA), the average daily driving distance of 46 kilometers is well within an EV’s range of 156km.
Under the Singapore government Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS) the highest possible rebate for EVs is S$30,000 (US$21,600) for a fully electric car, and S$45,000 (US$32,400) for a fully electric taxi. Of course this subsidy does not help a lot if the original cost of the EV is around S$200,000!
The solutions are coming
Chinese maker BYD currently sells its e6 all electric EV taxi, its hybrids Qin (sedan) and Tang (SUV) at prices around US$30-40,000 throughout Asia. BYD is the number one seller of global electric cars and buses.
BAIC (1958:HK) is another successful EV company based in China selling affordable EVs.
Tesla Motors (TSLA) will begin taking orders on its all electric Model 3, priced at US$35,000, and begin production in late 2017. Currently they sell the “best car ever” Model S (sedan) and the Model X (SUV) for around US$70,000 plus extras.
General Motors (GM) will soon bring the fully electric Bolt to market for around US$40,000. It will have a similar 200-mile range to the Tesla Model 3.
2.Charging network improvements
ABB (ABB:US) and BYD are working with governments in Asia, helping to develop battery fast charger infrastructure in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand.
Greenlots have established a charging station network with 50 charging stations at more than 30 locations across Singapore. They plan to triple the number of stations and locations in Singapore, over the next few years. With AC charging, it will take about 4-6 hours to fully recharge, and 30 minutes using DC fast charging.
BMW ChargeNow have a similar charging network in Singapore for the BMWi3.
The Singapore government has no doubt been waiting for the global EV market technology to become fully established, and global penetration rates to rise, prior to commitment to an EV policy. Further, prospects for EV need to look rosier than for the petroleum industry, which has hitherto been heavily supported by the government. The combination of the 2015 agreement at the COP21 environmental summit in Paris, together with the recent collapse in oil prices, could trigger new action by the government of Singapore. This would include re-instating tax breaks for EV makers, which would drastically reduce the cost of cars, and finally promote the EV market.