Saturday, 2 July 2016

Electric car-sharing scheme to be rolled out from 2017

By Ng Huiwen, The Straits Times, 1 Jul 2016

An electric car-sharing scheme will be rolled out islandwide next year, offering commuters a greener alternative to owning a car.

The authorities have appointed BlueSG, a subsidiary of French electric car-sharing operator Bollore Group, to run a fleet of 1,000 cars by 2020 under the national electric vehicle (EV) car-sharing programme.

This addition will be significantly more than the 300 shared cars currently in the market.

The electric cars will be powered by 2,000 charging points at selected parking spaces in 500 locations, of which 80 per cent would be within neighbourhoods.

Key industrial estates, commercial areas and the Central Business District will also be served by charging points under the scheme, which is jointly led by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Economic Development Board (EDB).

At a signing ceremony yesterday, Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan announced that the first fleet of 125 BlueSG cars will hit the road from the middle of next year. As part of the 10-year contract, the public can use up to 20 per cent of the 2,000 charging points.

Ang Mo Kio, Jurong East and Punggol will be among the first Housing Board towns to have a total of 50 EV stations and 250 charging points installed.

The move will lay the groundwork for a wider adoption of EVs in Singapore, which will contribute to the country's vision of a car-lite and green-car society, Mr Khaw said.

"Car-sharing allows more people to have access to a car without needing to own one," he said. "It is useful for the occasional trip where taking public transport may not be as convenient."

Eventually, the EV infrastructure may be expanded to support public transport such as taxis and buses.

It is understood that the scheme will be co-funded by the Government, although the parties have declined to reveal the cost.

Unlike existing car-sharing operators such as Car Club, BlueSG will operate a one-way model - which allows users to return the electric car at their destination.

Users can book a BlueSG car online or via a mobile app at least 20 minutes in advance, and they will be charged for the rent by duration rather than the distance travelled.

There will also be an option for a daily and annual membership.

The cars can be dropped off at any BlueSG station near the user's destination. Parking spaces can be reserved in advance.

Electric cars do not have tailpipes that emit pollution unlike conventional cars fuelled by petrol, and a BlueSG car will be able to travel for some 250km before it needs to be charged.

Bollore Group currently operates Autolib, the world's largest electric car-sharing programme in Paris. Since it started operating in December 2011, 31,000 conventional cars have been removed from the roads. It currently has a fleet of 4,000 electric cars and 130,000 regular users.

The group was selected from 13 participants in a request for information exercise in December 2014, Mr Khaw said.

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng believes that Singapore is a suitable location for EVs due to its small geographical size and dense urban environment.

"To promote EVs here, sharing is the way to go as many Singaporeans still have a few practical considerations when deciding to buy an electric car," he said.

NUS undergraduate Kuek Jia Jun, 24, who is eager to try out the scheme, said: "I hope to be more environmentally conscious, so this will allow me to use an electric car without needing to own and maintain one, which can be expensive."

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