• Muhammad Aathiq

Are Electric Cars Really Better For Singapore?

I get it. What a quirky title. But this is relevant to what we will be diving into. Let’s analyze what is defined as electric cars, and how much potential it may bring. We will then delve into whether it can truly benefit Singapore and Singaporeans in general.


What are electric vehicles?

By definition, electric vehicles are a form of transportation that uses one or more electric motors for propulsion. How propulsion works in an electric vehicle, differs by the manufacturer. While there are different types of electric vehicles, from airplanes to trains, we would like to focus on cars.


With an increased focus on renewable energy and the necessary reduction in greenhouse gases, electric cars have become the forefront of the future. It has become so necessary that governments have pushed carmakers to start focusing their production on this new technology.


In 2016, the European Commission detailed in a report that electric vehicles should be a ‘high priority’ to save the environment. Not only will electric vehicles improve power and gas connections across Europe, but will help ease the demand in fuel resources.


There are different types of electric cars as well. Most electric vehicles are actually called Plug-in hybrid cars. These cars run on both petrol and electricity. At low speeds, cars run on the electric motor, whereas at high speeds, the petrol motor is used. These cars can also charge the electric motor through regenerative braking or by plugging into an external port. An example can be the Toyota Prius (supposedly our editor’s favorite car).


Toyota Prius (2020)


Fully-electric vehicles, on the other hand, are fully-electric vehicles with rechargeable batteries and no petrol engine. Battery electric vehicles store electricity onboard with high-capacity battery packs. Their battery power is used to run the electric motor and all onboard electronics. BEVs do not emit any harmful emissions and hazards caused by traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. BEVs are charged by electricity from an external source. Some examples can be the Hyundai Ioniq or the Tesla Model X.


Tesla Model X


In our article, we will limit our focus to only the fully electric vehicles, and it’s purpose in Singapore.


What are the benefits of electric cars?

There is plenty of benefits to owning and using an electric car, but we shall focus on a few, with an emphasis on costs and reliability.


Costs

Electric cars are much better comparatively. While electric vehicles can be expensive upfront, they are much easier to maintain in the long run. The below infographic illustrates the potential annual savings you can get from driving an electric vehicle. Do take note that these costs are general, and differs by the car you choose.



An electric motor is practically perfect throughout its lifespan, and if there are any problems, the car warranty covers for a replacement. There is not a need to do many repairs on different components often, which makes owning these vehicles a fuss-free experience.

The average of a petrol-driven car might costs around $3,200 per year or more, depending on the octane level you pump. On the other hand, the approximate cost of recharging an electric car is $5, which accumulates to around $550 a year, according to Singtech.


The government is also providing various subsidies and opportunities to own an electric car now. For example, LTA will be rolling out an EV Early Adoption Incentive (EEAI) that will be effective from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2023. This incentive will offer a 45% rebate on the Additional Registration Fee (ARF), capped at $20,000 per vehicle. As such, buying an electric car can get cheaper with an average of 11% of discounts.


Road tax for electric cars has also been revamped to better reflect engine power. We have put all of this in an infographic below for you to see.



Environment

Owning an electric vehicle gives you that ultimate peace of mind, that your commute does not harm the environment in any way. With better technologies ahead, cleaner and renewable energy sources will be used to produce electricity. This in turn reduces car exhaust emissions on the road, directly affecting the air quality.


Source: CarbonBrief


As seen in the animation above, a new Nissan Leaf will provide better emissions in the coming years. In the UK in 2019, the lifetime emissions per kilometer of driving a Nissan Leaf EV were about three times lower than for the average conventional car, even before accounting for the falling carbon intensity of electricity generation during the car’s lifetime.


Are there any disadvantages?



Of course, there are certain advantages when considering an electric car. One of which is charging.


When you pull into a petrol kiosk and fill up the tank, it takes only a few minutes before you pay and drive off on your next adventure. An electric vehicle takes much longer to recharge, and the time investment and necessary planning do put some people off. Many electric cars can be full in around four hours, but some can take nearly a day to fully recharge.


Even worse, there is a lack of charging ports in Singapore. This means that it will be extremely difficult for you to find a charger should you run out of battery. The good news is that charging will get faster in the future, and the government is taking proactive steps to ensure there are more charging ports across the island.


Another reason is just the upfront cost of an electric vehicle is just too steep. Hong Seh Motors is the only car dealer in Singapore that currently carries three models of Tesla cars. Each model costs upwards of S$400,000 – more than four times the price of a popular model like the Volkswagen Golf.


Even cheaper models like the Hyundai Ioniq or the Nissan Leaf cost about S$140,000 – more than 30 percent costlier than a petrol equivalent.


Can we benefit from more Teslas?


We’ve come to the main question that is on everyone’s minds. Can it benefit us?

I do believe in electrification as the future of mobility. With the scarcity of fossil fuels increasing day by day, it is time we focus on greener efforts. Less reliance on burning resources to gain fuel, and a greater focus on sustaining and growing resources.


With the prices of batteries dropping consistently in the coming years, it will become easier to buy an electric car. But, there has to be a greater effort in easing daily usage.


Greater rebates should be present, more charging spots should be available, and greater awareness of new technology should be pushed. The more people know and understand, the better our future will be. Electric cars should not be known for it’s price, but for it’s long term value and it’s benefits towards the environment. Tesla’s should not be of extraordinary costs, as it not only benefits our future, but it’s uses will improve our daily lives.


All of this takes time, but change begins today.

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