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Mega-fast EV charging, swappable batteries: Singapore’s updated TR 25 EV standards explained

Derryn Wong
02/03/2022
Singapore - EV TR25 standards - CarBuuyer.com.sg

Singapore has announced new EV charging standards which will pave the way for super-fast EV charging, ‘slow’ home charging,  electric motorcycle battery swapping, and more


SINGAPORE – The Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced updated technical standards for electric vehicle (EV) charging in Singapore yesterday

The new standards, TR 25: 2022, update six year old standards to “support… the national effort to expand Singapore’s EV charging network,” according to the LTA press release.

To review TR 25 (which stands for Technical Reference 25), the Singapore Standards Council appointed a Working Group comprising the LTA and industry stakeholders, including charging equipment and EV manufacturers, testing and certification companies, academic experts, trade associations and professional engineers.

American EV maker Tesla was involved with the updating of the new charging standards

Tesla Singapore and Komoco Motors, which is the franchise holder for Chrysler, Jeep, Hyundai, Maserati, Ferrari and Harley-Davidson here, were the only two motor dealers involved.

After mulling over the regulations for five months beginning last September, the Working Group came up with the recommendations that resulted in a new standard, TR 25:2022.

These updated regulations cover electric mobility and charging in general, so they will not just allow a faster rate of charging for electric cars, but also introduce new ways of managing electric vehicles including motorcycles and public buses.

How quickly could we see the changes set out in TR25? Our guess is at least six months. Technical regulations are merely the backdrop to which real-world changes are made, and CarBuyer understands that testing facilities will take months to build, after which approvals can begin, then we can see the tech in action.

These are the main changes and what they’ll mean for the EV market here:

1. Faster EV charging up to 500kW

Tesla Supercharger Singapore

The most important factor for EV drivers/owners will be the introduction of faster charging rates. Previously, the maximum allowed charging rate for EVs in Singapore was 200kW. 

The new regulation allows for a maximum of 500kW on the widespread Combined Charge System 2 (CCS) currently used for most EVs in Singapore. It also allows up to 400kW on the Japanese CHAdeMO plug standard. 

That will allow for extremely fast charging of EVs. At the theoretical maximum of 500kW, a superfast charger could easily add 100km of range to a compatible electric car in less than five minutes. 

The move has been welcomed by EV makers CarBuyer polled, though not all would give an official comment. BMW Asia’s Senior Manager, for Product, Pricing, and E-Mobility, told CarBuyer: “BMW Group Asia welcomes the new standards as it allows for higher power charging, of up to 500kW, which results in shorter charging times in future. We currently partner with Shell Recharge Solutions and are committed to offering our customers safe home charging options, complying with both the current and updated TR-25 standards.”

Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo Singapore
We’ve just tested the latest version of Singapore’s fastest-charging car, the Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo

Currently, Singapore’s fastest charging EV is the Porsche Taycan which can fast charge at a maximum rate of 270kW. With a battery capacity of 83.7kWh, at the typical 50kW DC fast charger it tops up from five to 80 percent in 93 minutes. With the new TR25 rules, at the maximum 270kWh charge rate, the car could be charged from five to 80 percent in only 22.5 minutes.

Singapore’s current fastest public DC chargers are from Charge+ and max out at 120kW. The fastest DC charger in the world is made by ABB, capable of 360kW. But it’s only a matter of time before we see even faster charging that can take advantage of these regulations. 

2. ‘Slow’ charging with a three-pin plug and portable chargers

15A three pin plug
Credit: Shavul from Pixahive

TR25 updates allow for Mode 2 ‘slow’ charging, 2A for vehicles and 2B for removable batteries.

This means you will be able to slowly charge EVs at home with a 15 ampere plug – the three-pin plug with a long, round pin. (above). The same type as used in high-powered home appliances like air-conditioner compressors and certain washing machines.

However the maximum charge rate for these devices is only 2.3kW, so a Tesla Model 3 would take at least 30 hours to charge. But chargers like these could have their place: you won’t need advanced or expensive wiring that higher-rate chargers need. 

Mode 2 cable charger EV - Singapore
Mode 2 chargers like this are safer than Mode 1’s – the latter are unregulated by power electronics

At that rate, overnight charging won’t fully top up an EV from empty, but will be more than enough to refill the typical daily distance that drivers here cover. And because most cars sit idle for more than 20 hours a day, having the option of widespread trickle charging would take pressure off the public charging network.

Slow charging will also be relevant in the Mode 2B segment — battery swapping for scooters or electric motorcycles. For example, Gogoro’s swappable batteries already used in Taiwan have a 1.3kWh capacity, and would charge in under an hour. 

Julen takes the Taycan through CarBuyer’s Practicality Gauntlet. Can it fit a golf bag? How long does Bluetooth pairing take?

3. Swappable batteries for motorcycles

Honda Motorcycle swappable battery Singapore
Honda’s PCX electric uses its new swappable battery technology

An alternative to parking and charging an entire vehicle is the swappable battery concept. While it has yet to become popular for cars, it’s already being used in some places for small motorcycles/scooters – Gogoro in Taiwan is an example

Instead of riders charging the bike, they go to a battery station and swap to a full battery for a subscription. A consortium of major motorcycle manufacturers – Honda, KTM, Piaggio and Yamaha – have already put steps in place for a common battery swapping standard.  

Gogoro swappable battery Singapore
Taiwanese battery-swapping company Gogoro is a case of this technology already in use

That could open the floodgates to a wide variety of electric motorcycles, but don’t imagine a deluge of cheap Chinese two wheelers is on the way. Given our taxes and the current prices for motorcycle Certificates Of Entitlement, an e-scooter with enough power to do 80km/h and run for 120km would retail for just under S$20,000, by our reckoning.

Electric bikes will take a while to appear, however. TR 25:2022 will take about six months to phase in, and because bike manufacturers seldom have the certification that the LTA requires, the products will have to be tested for compliance in Singapore. Setting up the testing infrastructure could take another year.

Meanwhile, what’s interesting is that battery swapping does facilitate Battery-as-a-Service bikes, like the sort offered by Gogoro – instead of paying for petrol, riders swap out batteries at a network of kiosks called GoStations for a monthly subscription fee. 

Gogoro’s launch here seems like a dead cert: a company called Gogoro Network Pte Ltd was set up here in December 2018, and was part of the Working Group.

TR25 specifically mentions these batteries will be used for motorcycles, and do not mention electric-assist bicycles or personal mobility devices (PMDs). As we know from PMDs in HDB flats, there is the danger of major fire hazards arising from the use of unlicensed or substandard charge equipment for lithium batteries. 

4. Charger inspections

SP Group charger Singapore EV

A minor update means owners of EV chargers – private or public – now require fewer inspections. Previously, this happened four times a year, but this has now been reduced to three times a year.

5.Liquid-cooled cables and more electric buses

Pantograph charging makes electric buses charge really really quick

The LTA release says “standards for liquid cooled cables and pantograph charging methods have also been included”, and while both relate to fast charging (cooling a cable lets more power flow through it safely) the pantograph system paves the way for the demise of noisy, smoky diesel buses.

Big watts mean big heat, it’s an unavoidable aspect of electrical systems. TR25 introduces standards for liquid cooling of charge cables and pantographs.

Pantograph charging involves an overhead power supply connecting automatically with a bus to zap it with electricity. Such buses are already in use here and during a 10 to 15 minute layover at a bus terminal, they can apparently receive up to 48km of range – the longest route that a bus has to cover here (Service 176) is 43km for a return trip. Half an hour of charging would add 130km of range.

ABB, a technology company that was part of the Working Group, says its Pantograph Down charging system could top up a bus in six minutes.


Tags:

charger EV Singapore standard TR25

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's chief editor brings 15 years of experience in automotive journalism. Previously, he was the editor for Top Gear Singapore, and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment. He's contributed to The Business Times, Today, and many other publications, and also covered technology as editor of Stuff magazine. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he is the Chief Slave of two cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong

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