Greening of Singapore & Formula One

Green & Electric Move for Singapore & Formula One

Singapore’s Formula One Grand Prix attracted much more attention, money, as well as noise and fuel burn, but there’s a move afoot to turn Singapore green – or electric – for road transport and even the major car makers are turning to green. The first G1 this month, organised by the Singapore Environment Council, was a showcase for electric Porsches, BMWs and no-brand eco-efficient cars. Also we report on efforts to make the Formula One much more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Grace Chua in the Straits Times, Singapore (23 September 2010):

FOR five years, a bright orange, single-seat car was the lone electric vehicle plying Singapore’s roads.

But since last year, the Corbin Sparrow, registered in 2003 by an American teacher here, has had more company.

There are now at least eight electric vehicles here, going by Land Transport Authority (LTA) statistics: seven motorcycles and scooters and one electric car.

Electric car conversion start-up EV Hub has also obtained approval from LTA to convert a BMW and a goods vehicle.

Electric vehicle use and research seem to be moving ahead.

Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi is scheduled to bring in up to 50 of its i-MiEV cars for test programmes here by the end of the year, while the Energy Market Authority has been searching for a service provider to design, build and run a network of charging stations for such test cars.

Because they do not use fossil fuels, driving such vehicles does not produce the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change.

EV Hub unveiled a snazzy red Porsche and sleek grey BMW – both fully electric – at the launch of the Singapore G1 green vehicle race earlier this month, and also has an electric Renault van. Mr David Chou, 40, managing director of the one-year-old start-up, feels converting existing cars to electric ones would encourage people to adopt the technology.

‘It’s like doing a heart transplant for a car. You give it a new motor, components and wires, but keep the chassis you love, so it has the same sturdiness, safety features and so on,’ he said. Making a new car from scratch, even if it was electric, also produces extra carbon emissions, he added.

It costs more than $50,000 for a basic conversion, which involves swopping the engine and innards with an electric motor system; and up to about $200,000 for a higher-end set-up with more cutting-edge batteries and technology.Those who own these cars have to charge them at home, so they are practical only for those living in landed property.

The firm is working with the National University of Singapore and Singapore Polytechnic to test different kinds of electric motor technology, and train students to test and maintain such vehicles.

Meanwhile, Greenlots, which distributes and installs charging points where people can pay to charge vehicles, has sold three of its E-Max electric scooters since they were launched in April last year.

Its customers are in their late 20s and early 30s, and commute short distances to work, said Greenlots vice-president Khoo Lin Zhuang, 28. But they live on landed property as there are few places to charge the vehicles here. Greenlots has, however, installed a handful of charging stations in places such as the 313@Somerset and Parkway Parade malls.

Such inconvenience, along with uncertainty about funding schemes, is part and parcel of being a pioneer on the electric vehicle scene here, Mr Khoo said.

But he added it was worthwhile: ‘We’re not one of the big boys, that’s why we have to rush out of the gate first.’

But it has been a bumpy ride for other electric vehicle firms.

Mr Clarence Tan of the Green Car Company, with a fleet of five Corbin Sparrow three-wheelers, said no one wanted to buy the cars, which cost about $125,000 each. Reasons included the lack of charging points and limited range, as the car can travel only 30km to 50km on a single charge.

The firm’s new plan: wait for certificates of entitlement prices to drop, then put the vehicles on the road and invite advertisers to place ads on the cars.

The first G1 in Singapore also attracted international attention as 36 consulate staff from 12 different foreign missions, in teams of three comprising two passengers and a rider, manoeuvred their trishaws across various obstacles in a race.

The race was one of the many activities of the Singapore G1, to raise awareness of green transport technologies and green alternative energy through educating and engaging the public.


A report from James Allen, who regularly reports on F1 and attended the Singapore Grand Prix, which was originally posted on 30 June this year:

The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) has unveiled a raft of changes aimed at reducing the sport’s carbon footprint.

The teams have long been under pressure from sponsors who want to be associated with a ‘green’ product and following the results of an environmental research analysis conducted by Trucost, FOTA believes it can cut emissions by over 12 per cent before 2012.

According to the report, Formula One teams’ CO2 emissions hit 215,588 tonnes in 2009 of which 0.3 per cent came from fuel emissions during racing and testing.

“It has already been possible to reduce Formula One’s total carbon emissions,” said FOTA Chairman and McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh. “Moreover, building on what we have already achieved, and extrapolating what is now being planned, we anticipate that by 2012 Formula One will have reduced its total carbon emissions by 12.4% compared with 2009.

“In addition, the FIA and FOTA are already working together to tailor the 2013 technical regulations to ensuring that all engines and powertrains used in Formula One by that date will showcase, and provide a platform for the ongoing development of, technologies designed to enhance fuel efficiency.

“This is a very exciting time for Formula One, and I am delighted that our sport has been able to take a global environmental lead in this way.”

The 2013 engine regulations are a fantastic opportunity for the sport to take a fork in the road and make itself relevant for the future. The engines are likely to be small capacity turbos, with additional boost from heat energy regeneration systems, harnessed to braking as well as from engine braking. The FIA has been talking about this for some time now.

FOTA have stressed that it is important to find a balance between pushing for a greener future and ensuring Formula One continues to be the world’s best motor racing series.

“Formula One is, and must always be, the pinnacle of world motor sport,” said a FOTA statement. “Equally, Formula One cars have traditionally provided an exciting and productive development platform for new automotive technologies, and must continue to do so. Many of those new technologies have ultimately been introduced into consumer production cars.

“Turbocharging, fuel injection, variable valve timing and kinetic energy recovery systems [KERS] have all been developed within Formula One, and it is the intention of FOTA, in collaboration with the FIA, that Formula One should continue to pioneer technologies that are appropriate to the challenges faced by society today and in the future, and that are applicable to products that will benefit mankind in the longer term.”

The FIA welcomed the announcement, “The programme highlights the important role that new technologies will play in reducing emissions over the coming years and the leadership role of our sport in developing efficiency solutions for the wider automobile sector,” said a statement.

F1 and the environment is one of the topics under discussion at the FOTA Fans Forum, powered by Santander, which JA on F1 is organising in London.

Video chapters from the discussions will be uploaded soon after the event via You Tube and will be posted here on JA on F1.

James Allen became ITV Sport’s lead commentator on Formula 1 in October 2001, having deputised for Murray Walker at six races during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.

James joined ITV in 1997 as pit lane reporter having fulfilled a similar role on the American sports channel ESPN since 1993. His sharp, often humorous analysis of team’s race strategies and the goings on in the pit lane quickly became a feature of ITV’s coverage.

James was born into a racing family: His father Bill was a works Lotus driver in the 1960s, enjoying success in sportscar events like the Le Mans 24 Hours.

James studied English and modern languages at Oxford University and joined the Brabham team as press officer in 1990. The following year he drew the short straw when the team hired Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell and James was responsible for ensuring them a good press!

He co-wrote Mansell’s best selling autobiography in 1995 and in 1998 he followed it up with a second book: Michael Schumacher, Driven to Extremes. His biography of Schumacher, The Edge of Greatness was published in 2007 and is considered the definitive book on the seven times world champion. James has also been the F1 correspondent for the Financial Times since 1999.


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