EV Weekend 2021: Singapore is ready for an EV future [updated]

Ben Chia

Page 1: The head of Singapore’s Parliamentary Committee for Transport says EV Weekend has arrived just at the right time

Audi : ‘EV costs will come down substantially’

Mr Rudi Venter, Head of Marketing, Audi Singapore

Mr Rudi Venter, Audi Singapore’s Head of Marketing, highlighted the challenges and doubts of consumers today when it comes to EVs, namely range and charging. But he pointed out that the range of many modern EVs today allows one to cover the length of Singapore many times over, and so range anxiety should not be an issue for most drivers here.

In terms of charging infrastructure, Mr Venter reiterated Mr Supaat’s point about the proliferation of EV chargers that is being planned for Singapore in the years ahead. “There will be 60,000 charging points here by 2030, so it’s pretty clear that there won’t be a problem charging your EV in Singapore,” he notes. He also adds that with fast chargers, it will take less than an hour for an EV to gain a substantial amount of charge, further minimising the inconvenience of charging.

Finally, Mr Venter says that while EVs are indeed slightly more expensive to purchase right now, with the introduction of incentives and rebates, the costs of EVs will come down substantially in time. Over the life cycle of the car, EVs are less expensive to maintain as well, with fewer mechanical parts, as well as the fact that the cost of electricity is significantly lesser than fuel.

Audi feels that the car industry is at a pivotal moment as it moves towards electrification, and as part of the brand’s commitment to the EV cause, Audi will phase out its internal combustion engine (ICE) models by 2035, and be a 100 percent electric brand from that point onwards.

BMW : Producing a green car from start to finish

Mr Lars Nielsen, Managing Director, BMW Group Asia

Mr Lars Nielsen, Managing Director of BMW Group Asia, emphasised on the brand’s sustainability efforts in going green. “Sustainability plays a major role in our daily life today, and will determine the future of our society. Our goal is to make BMW sustainable for the long run, and for us, there is no premium without sustainability.”

BMW says that its aim is to produce the greenest EV possible, and that includes the entire production process and life cycle of the car. “We are aiming to cut emissions by 40 percent across the life cycle of the car,” says Mr Nielsen, highlighting how the brand intends to do so through the reduction of emissions throughout its supply chain, production process and use phases, including through the sourcing and usage of materials.

BMW also talked about how electric mobility goes hand in hand with its concept of circularity. The idea is to use less to achieve more, and BMW envisions that its future products will feature a high degree of recyclability. The company has a target of achieving complete carbon neutrality by 2050, and Mr Nielsen says that BMW is well on its way towards reaching that goal, with the newly-launched BMW iX being one of the most sustainable cars in production today.

Mercedes-Benz : An electrified Mercedes for every segment in Singapore next year

Mr Claudius Steinhoff, President and CEO, Mercedes-Benz Singapore

Mercedes-Benz outlined its electrification plans over the next decade, and Mr Claudius Steinhoff, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Singapore, says that the brand is ready to go fully electric by 2030.

By 2022, Mercedes-Benz will have an electric car in every segment it competes in here, and by 2025, the brand will have an electrified version of every model of its lineup. From then onwards, Mercedes-Benz products will be built upon EV-only architectures, and Mr Steinhoff is confident that Singapore will be ready to be a fully electrified market by 2030.

To that end, Mercedes-Benz is making use of its technological know-how to address concerns that consumers may have about electric mobility. The EQS luxury EV that it will launch next year will have a range of over 700km, which means that drivers here will only need to charge it every two or three weeks.

The brand will also showcase its Vision EQXX concept car next year, which makes use of aerodynamics, lightweight construction and innovative technologies to deliver a range of over 1,000km on a full charge. The tech from the Vision EQXX will eventually make its way into the brand’s production EVs in the years ahead.

Like its fellow German brand BMW, Mercedes-Benz also highlighted its sustainability efforts. By 2022, all Mercedes-Benz passenger car production facilities will become carbon neutral. The brand will also have eight Giga-factories for battery production, as well as a dedicated battery recycling plant by 2023, as part of its long term Ambition 2039 blueprint, and to become completely carbon neutral by 2035.

Industry panel discussion

From left to right:
Leow Ju-Len, managing editor of CarBuyer, moderator
Miss Koh Xiao Han, Head of Commercial & Operations, Charge+
Mr Lai Wee Leong, AVP, Smart Carpark and Payments, ST Engineering
Mr Randall Lee, Founder, Ifyni Pte Ltd

The industry panel discussion was moderated by Leow Ju-Len, managing editor of CarBuyer, and featured inputs from Miss Koh Xiao Han, Head of Commercial & Operations at charging point operator Charge+, Mr Lai Wee Leong, AVP for Smart Carpark and Payments at ST Engineering, and Mr Randall Lee, founder of Ifyni Pte Ltd, which retails electric motorcycles and commercial vehicles.

Miss Koh shared how the EV market has grown in Singapore over the past year, and that has driven demand for the accompanying EV infrastructure. She says that the consumers will have more confidence in adopting EVs once they see that charging facilities are commonplace and are convenient to use. Given the Government’s mandate to have new buildings accommodate for EV charging facilities, she predicts that Singapore’s EV charging network will grow rapidly over the next few months.

She also brought up the challenge of how to get EV owners to share charging facilities. “It is not possible to have one charger for every driver,” she said, adding “While everyone wants their own private charger at their doorstep, that’s just not going to happen in Singapore due to infrastructure and space constraints. So our challenge here is how do we optimise infrastructure usage, and how do we encourage sharing (of facilities) among the community.”

Mr Lai said that while Singapore is catching up in terms of its EV infrastructure, there are lessons to learn from more advanced markets such as China. For instance, the e-payment system in China is more streamlined and seamless, and Singapore should ideally have a similarly highly efficient system to integrate all the EV charging solutions such that users will find it convenient to charge their cars. On their end, ST Engineering are actively engaging with various partners and stakeholders in order to see how the EV network here can be seamlessly integrated, especially when it comes to parking solutions and charging facilities.

Mr Lee shared that for commercial and fleet owners, one of their primary concerns for EVs are the durability of the batteries, given that their vehicles see much heavier usage than private cars. In that sense, he hopes to see greater innovation in battery tech, and eventually bring about more cost savings for business operators. He pointed out that swappable battery tech is already in place in many countries, notably for motorcycles, and that he hopes to see it here in the near future.

Ownership panel discussion

From left to right:
Derryn Wong, chief editor CarBuyer, moderator
Mr Sujay Ravikumar, Secretary, Electric Vehicle Association Singapore (EVAS)
Mr Donovan Tan, Head of Business Development, Interwell Group
Mr Joe Nguyen, President, Tesla Owners’ Group Singapore
Mr Siew Leck Hung, Head of Marketplace, UCARS

The owners panel discussion was moderated by Derryn Wong, chief editor of CarBuyer, and featured inputs from Mr Sujay Ravikumar, Secretary of the Electric Vehicle Association Singapore (EVAS), Mr Donovan Tan, Head of Business Development of Interwell Group, which provides EV charging solutions, Mr Joe Nguyen, President of the Tesla Owners’ Group Singapore, and Mr Siew Leck Hung, Head of Marketplace at UCARS.

Mr Ravikumar raised the common concerns of prospective EV owners here, namely range anxiety and charging infrastructure. But he points out that the average driver covers around 50km a day, and with today’s modern EVs capable of offering ranges of between 200 to 400km on a full charge, one need only plug in their EV every two to three days here.

As previous panellists and guests have also pointed out, public chargers are being rolled out at a rapid pace in Singapore, but Mr Tan said that EV owners need to adopt a slight mindset shift, a point which Mr Siew agreed with. “When you drive an EV it’s very different from when you drive in an ICE car. You need to think about destination charging, and whenever you go out to buy groceries, you look for a place where you have access to a charger. I think there has to be a switch in mindset when you actually want to switch to an EV,” said Mr Tan.

When it comes to home charging, accessibility and charging time is also a major concern, but Mr Nguyen shared that while home charging can take longer than fast chargers, “you don’t have to charge it to full. You should just charge it to around 80 percent every couple of days when you can.”

Mr Ravikumar added that his group conducted a survey among Singaporeans, and about half of the respondents said that they would be willing to walk a maximum of five minutes to the nearest charging station. This shows that if charging points are plentiful and conveniently-accessible, home charging will become a viable solution for EV buyers here.

Finally, Mr Tan addressed the issue of reliability and costs of EVs, and pointed out that EVs and their associated infrastructure are designed to be extremely robust. “Most manufacturers offer 8 to 10 year warranties for their batteries, while most chargers are built to have at least a 10 year lifespan. You’re looking at around 100,000 charge cycles with that lifespan.” Mr Siew adds that EVs have less moving parts than ICE cars, and therefore theoretically will have less complexity and thus more reliable in the long run.

The night wrapped up with Ju-Len highlighting that as EV adoption rate grows, costs will come down, and that will drive EVs towards being a cost-effective option for many. He says that EV Weekend is the starting point of a conversation, and will hopefully drive consumers here towards having a greater understanding of the EV ownership experience in Singapore.

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BEV brands discussion electric electrified EV ev weekend event night evweekend industry ownership ucars

About the Author

Ben Chia

CarBuyer's senior staff writer went out to explore the Great Big World, including a stint working in China (despite his limited Mandarin). Now he's back, ready to foist upon you his takes on everything good and wonderful about the automotive world. Follow Ben on Instagram @carbuyer.ben

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