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Five big questions on EV ownership in Singapore that you were too afraid to ask

Lionel Kong
04/02/2022
EV charging in Singapore

We tackle the five biggest questions about electric car / EV ownership from CarBuyer Singapore’s readers on various topics


SINGAPORE

Q: I am wondering if the reliability and parts of EV cars are well considered in a tropical country like Singapore.  

A: All automakers put their products through rigorous testing schedules before market launch, including what regular drivers would consider as torture tests in extreme sub-zero cold and blistering desert heat. Prolonged testing ensures that the components in any car, whether EV or petrol or diesel, do not fail prematurely.

Every carmaker has its reputation to protect, so every product will be tested in the environments that it will be used in without exception these days. 

An interesting fact is that the battery packs in electric vehicles, like every electronic device, do get run down with age. Most carmakers have a quality assurance standard in place to ensure that the batteries, if treated properly, are guaranteed to maintain at least 80 percent of their original power capacity for at least five years. 

With the current technology levels, if the batteries are recharged properly and not heavy stressed often with hard acceleration, you can expect them to retain around 90 percent of their charge capacity after half a decade 

Of course there’s the spectre of many vehicle warranties lasting only five years and anecdotal evidence of cars becoming problematic right after that, but the auto sales industry is already addressing the issue with competitive warranties. Porsche Singapore for example, has extended its warranty to an epic 15 years. 

MG 5 EV in Singapore
The Chinese MG 5 EV is very solidly put together and a very capable, dynamic drive. Read our review here

Q: Is there a way we can find out about the future availability of EV chargers in common residential car parks such as the HDB multi-storey car parks? 

A: One thing about government departments in Singapore is that when something has been decided, they don’t wait around. As of February 2022, the first EV chargers have just started appearing in HDB car parks.

The Land Transport Authority announced in 2021 that it will fund 2,000 EV chargers in private condominiums and apartment buildings to make it more attractive for estate management to install them. How it will roll out will depend on the individual condominium estates in Singapore themselves.



The LTA has also stated that the goal is to have at least 60,000 public charging points in Singapore by the end of this decade. Where they will be located and how fast they can charge an EV has not yet been decided though, but we all know that for this system to work, residential car parks in HDB estates will need to have its share of chargers island-wide. 

As of 2022, the most widely used public EV charging stations are managed by the SP Group, and you can easily manage your own account with its dedicated phone app.

EV charger in Singapore car park
Public EV chargers are already in HDB estates in 2022

Q: How about reliability worries when driving an EV into Malaysia?

A: A well-maintained EV is as reliable as any other petrol-powered vehicle, and you would have to be very, very unlucky to have one breakdown in the middle of nowhere. 

The bigger issue at the moment though, is range. While some EVs like the BMW iX3 offer phenomenal range and efficiency, there are also EVs like the Mini Cooper SE with less range than what you would expect. There are not enough reliable EV charging stations along Malaysia’s North-South Highway at the moment to make it a stress-free drive from Singapore to Penang. 

Porsche, in collaboration with Shell, has rolled out six high speed 180kW DC chargers along the North-South Highway in Malaysia, but that is realistically not enough of a safety net. What if you need power to your car now, and there’s a queue for the single EV charger at the station? 

Fret not though, as things are moving fast. As of February 2022 there are already 12 locations along the North-South Highway that offer EV charging points from Shell, and this number is set to increase as the network aims to stretch from Singapore to Bangkok within the decade. 

The BMW iX3 is one of the most efficient EVs currently available


Q: Does the government plan to adjust road tax downwards for electric vehicles?

A: This isn’t going to happen. Remember that the business of road tax is to bill you for owning a car and using it on the roads here. Reducing road tax will simply reduce the income to the government coffers and then they will need to dig around elsewhere in other areas to make up for the shortfall. 

As demonstrated recently in Singapore’s Budget 2021 plan, the modus operandi has always been to hand out monetary rebates for a little while to cushion the blow, then turn the rebate tap off when people have gotten used to the idea.

Electric cars are right now more expensive to manufacture and consequently sell. Singaporeans are being encouraged to switch over to them with the updated Vehicular Emissions Scheme, known in short as VES. In simple terms, there is a discount of up to S$25,000 for a very clean, non-pollutive electric car already factored into the retail price on the showroom floor. 

This is paired with the Electric Vehicle Early Adoption Initiative (EEAI) which can knock up to another S$20,000 off an EV’s price. 


Ju-Len walks you through BMW’s super-technological iX flagship EV

These discounts bring the expensive EVs down to a more palatable price in Singapore. The idea is to make it easier for the average mainstream car buyer to choose an EV over a similarly priced petrol vehicle. 

The electric BMW iX3 is a prime example of the system at work. At its launch in 2021, due to all the rebates, it was the most high-tech, yet cheapest BMW X3 you could buy brand new. It’s still the case going into 2022.

Sounds good right now, but the EEAI is set to be phased out on 31 December 2023, which is when the LTA thinks that EV prices will have dropped low enough to achieve parity with internal combustion engined cars.

There’s also another expense for EVs, buried in the already-complicated road tax system. An EV owner has to pay an additional flat fee on top of the basic power output-based road tax. It’s simply called the Additional Flat Component (AFC). For 2022, it’s a digestible price of S$400 per annum. It’s not going away though, and is set to increase. From 2023, the AFC will be cranked up to S$700 per annum.   

Also, prepared for some sticker shock when you first see the annual road tax bill of an electric car anyway. You save plenty on your fuel and power costs over petrol, but the road tax of an EV isn’t cheap. The Polestar 2 for example, has a road tax of more than S$4,000 a year in 2022.

Still, it’s not too bad when you consider that the system used to be so archaic that a Tesla Model X once had to pay more road tax than a Ferrari in Singapore.

The Mercedes-EQ EQA is the smallest electric car you can get from the brand

Q: Is there any roadside vehicle recovery service in Singapore if the EV runs out of battery?

A: For starters, you should never allow this happen because an electric vehicle will always clearly show how much range you have left. But if you really want to test the system and run your EV down to zero, practically all authorised dealerships in Singapore offer an EV emergency recovery service.

Hyundai for example, has its unique vehicle-to-vehicle recovery service where a rescue vehicle will charge your car with enough juice to get it to the nearest charge station.



Tags:

bmw ix3 electric cars EV iX3 singapore EV tesla

About the Author

Lionel Kong

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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