Posted under Express 147
Electric Car Test Run & Sustainable Funding Flagged
The Energy Market Authority (EMA) and Land Transport Authority (LTA) flagged off nine battery-powered cars: four Smart two-seaters from Daimler and five Mitsubishi iMiEVs, the first test fleet which will eventually have about 90 vehicles, comprising 25 iMiEVs and 20 Smarts, plus an assortment of models from Renault, Nissan and possibly other manufacturers. And the Government has committed S$400 million to spearhead research and development for a sustainable Singapore, with three-quarters of the amount to go towards energy solutions.
By Christopher Tan, Senior Correspondent, Straits Times (26 June 2011):
A long-awaited trial to test the durability, running cost and long-term performance of all-electric cars here was plugged in and switched on yesterday.
That was when the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and Land Transport Authority (LTA) flagged off nine battery-powered cars: four Smart two-seaters from Daimler and five Mitsubishi iMiEVs.
All in, the EV (electric vehicle) test fleet will have about 90 vehicles, comprising 25 iMiEVs and 20 Smarts, plus an assortment of models from Renault, Nissan and possibly other manufacturers.
Most of these cars will be arriving from next month to next year.
The $20 million, three-year trial is open only to companies and organisations, not individuals.
For now, the cars will juice up at five charging stations set up by Bosch. It will expand its network as more such vehicles arrive.
Cost-wise, it is just as well that this test is a restricted one. Despite the tax-free status of the electric test fleet, the all-in costs – compared to those for similar-size petrol-driven cars – will not appeal to common folk, even if they are environmentally conscious.
First off, the cars are costly, even without the taxes and levies that conventional cars attract here. A Mitsubishi iMiEV test car, for instance, is around $90,000 – about the price of a slightly bigger petrol-driven Honda Jazz.
The Smart two-seater, which is not for sale, leases for $1,400 a month. The rate is similar to that of a full-size Korean family sedan.
Next, unlike most cars here, electric cars are not entitled to any scrap rebate.
Also, there is a $1,600-a-year special fee that users have to pay, which is more than the road tax of many mid-size cars.
As for running costs, a flat monthly charge of $180 is levied for using Bosch’s electric stations; that is equivalent to what many small petrol cars incur monthly at the pumps.
Insurance rates are also slightly higher than the coverage for normal cars.
Still, the LTA and EMA seemed optimistic at yesterday’s flag-off. LTA chief executive Chew Hock Yong said: ‘We are encouraged by the support of the business community for this test-bed.’
Firms that signed up for the cars are Clean Mobility Singapore, Daimler South East Asia, GP Batteries, Mitsubishi Corp, Mitsubishi Electric Asia, Mitsubishi Elevator Asia, Senoko Energy Supply, and Vestas Asia Pacific Wind Technology.
The LTA and the Ministry of Manpower also signed up.
EMA chief executive Chee Hong Tat said: ‘The purpose of the electric vehicle test-bed is to gain a better understanding of EV technologies, business models and user preferences which will give us more information to determine the feasibility of using EVs in Singapore.’
At the end of the three years, the Government will decide if it is worthwhile to incentivise the use of EVs, and if so, how sizeable its incentives should be.
Observers feel that electric vehicles are non-starters without government carrots, as they cost twice the price of normal cars or more.
Motorist Shreejit Changaroth, 54, added that makers of electric vehicles need to overcome two other hurdles: their range and charging time.
Right now, most can cover only 200km or less on a full recharge, which takes around eight hours at a normal charging point and 45 minutes at a high-voltage quick-charger.
‘I often clock over 100km a day,’ the engineer said. ‘I come home late, and sometimes, I even forget to charge my cellphone.’
Most drivers here clock less than 60km a day. But the main proposition of electric cars is their relative ‘greenness’.
The EMA reckons electric cars charged by electricity generated from natural gas power stations (as is the case in Singapore) will account for 66 per cent less carbon dioxide than petrol equivalents.
After all, electric motors are more efficient than fossil fuel-driven engines.
By Vimita Mohandas for Today (28 June 2011):
In the search for urban sustainability here, energy resilience looks set to be the key focus.
Of the S$400 million the Government has committed to spearhead research and development for a sustainable Singapore, three-quarters of the amount will go towards energy solutions that can be deployed within 20 years.
The announcement yesterday at the inaugural Urban Sustainability R&D Congress highlighted five priority areas of sustainable urban living, urban mobility, green building, urban ecology and food.
Already, projects could soon be underway to meet Singapore’s future food demands, with proposals now under evaluation by the National Research Foundation under a S$50-million programme set aside for this.
Another S$50 million will come from the National Development Ministry, which is doubling its research fund to cover other aspects of urban sustainability for the nearer term.
But long-term cost competitive energy solutions that can improve efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and increase energy options will get the most resources.
And yesterday’s R&D congress kicks off a new platform for government, research institutes and the private sector to discuss which R&D responses can best overcome Singapore’s urban sustainability challenges.
Some 800 participants, including from 12 government agencies, participated yesterday.
Opening the congress, Minister of State (National Development) Tan Chuan-Jin said space constraint was another key challenge.
“Every year, we have many young Singaporeans going into the workforce, setting up families. We need to house them and we need to find a creative way to organize ourselves from an infrastructural perspective,” he told reporters.
“But it’s not just the building space, it’s really about the living space — how do you integrate everything together.”
The set-up of the congress will allow for collaboration on some specific projects, such as Punggol Eco-Town, CleanTech Park, Jurong Lake District and Marina Bay.
These “living labs” present different opportunities: Punggol is a residential test-bed, CleanTech Park is an industrial test-bed, while Marina Bay and Jurong Lake District are mixed-use settings.
And as these sites undergo development, the Government wants companies and researchers to focus on applying cutting- edge technologies that can come onstream in the near term.
“The next chapter of the Singapore Story must be about us confronting these challenges with the same human ingenuity as we did before,” said Brigadier-General (NS) Tan.
“Because there are few city states in the world that will feel the pressures of urbanization more keenly than us, Singapore cannot rely on ready solutions from others and must lead the way to find innovative solutions.”
To recognise and support such efforts, he presented the Minister for National Development R&D awards yesterday for three technological innovations.
The Housing and Development Board’s Treelodge@Punggol and the Building and Construction Authority’s Zero Energy Building received the Distinguished Award, while the Vertical Farming project by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority won the Merit Award.