Ride. Return. Recharge. Repeat.

Ride. Return. Recharge. Repeat.

Singapore could have up to 1,000 electric cars zipping around roads here by 2016, as part of an official car-sharing scheme. The Government has asked firms to submit proposals for a trial that will last up to 10 years, and also involve setting aside parking spaces for the cars and installing more charging stations.

The inter-agency Electro-Mobility Singapore task force, which is led by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Land Transport Authority (LTA), yesterday issued a request for information (RFI) for proposals, which should be submitted by Feb 27 next year.

It said people should be able to pick up the cars at one location and drop them off at another, and the self-service scheme could span Housing Boardtowns, the Central Business District and city-fringe areas, industrial estates and business parks.

Registered users will be able to use their smartphones to see which electric cars are available nearby, and pay to reserve a vehicle as well as a parking space near their destination.

The scheme is expected to complement other transport modes such as trains, buses, cycling and even walking, for example, by helping people to get to MRT stations. In fact, companies submitting proposals are encouraged to work with "public transport operators and TransitLink to offer rebates or discounts to public transport users who transfer from trains or buses to car-sharing and vice versa", according to the RFI.

The scheme is part of the Government's push to make Singapore a "car-lite" nation. LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong said people could use public transport most of the time, and tap the scheme for "the occasional travel which would be more convenient by car, such as family outings on weekends or bulk shopping".

"Car-sharing is one way to support a lifestyle which doesn't require one to own or maintain a car," he said.

The scheme is the second phase of the Government's electric-vehicle test bed, which started in 2011. The first phase, which ended last year, was open to only corporate users and involved 89 electric cars and 71 charging stations islandwide.

Data from the first phase suggested that electric cars are technically viable here, although their high cost and the lack of a widely accessible charging infrastructure are problems.The average daily driving distance for electric cars was 46km, close to the national average of 50km for a normal passenger car, but far less than the electric cars' reported range of 120km-160km per charge.

The data also showed that charging the vehicles would not significantly impact the electricity grid, even if a large percentage of private cars were electric.

The Government will consider waiving vehicular taxes for the scheme's electric cars, including the certificate of entitlement fee and road tax. It will also pay up to half of the costs of charging infrastructure installation, subject to a cap to be determined.

The EDB told The Straits Times that the timeline for the trial was to give the winning company or consortium enough time to recoup investments.

Car-sharing Association of Singapore president Lai Meng has said having 3,000 parking spaces for the scheme would be a good start, as that would mean 30 to 40 spaces for each constituency.

"Public transport cannot be everything for everyone, since there will be days when you need a car," he said. "A car-sharing scheme plugs that weak link."

zengkun@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on December 9, 2014.
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