Saturday, 2 July 2016

Electric car-sharing scheme to be rolled out from 2017; BlueSG launches Singapore’s first large-scale electric vehicle car-sharing programme on 12 Dec 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."



* Electric-vehicle sharing programme officially rolls out with 80 cars
Large-scale electric car sharing scheme kicks off
Users can rent one of 80 vehicles and return them at 32 charging locations islandwide
By Adrian Lim, Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 13 Dec 2017

Singapore's first large-scale electric car sharing programme was officially launched yesterday, a milestone which some experts say could spur the greater adoption of zero-emission cars in the Republic.

For a start, users can rent one of 80 battery-powered hatchbacks, drive to their destinations, and drop the car off at any of the 32 charging locations in housing estates, the city, one-north and Science Park.

By 2020, the goal is to have 1,000 of such green cars, along with 500 charging locations offering 2,000 charging points - making it the second-largest electric-car sharing programme in the world.

The charging infrastructure and electric cars are supplied by BlueSG, a subsidiary of French conglomerate Bollore Group. The group has a similar electric-vehicle sharing scheme in Paris, with more than 4,000 cars, currently the world's largest.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who launched BlueSG's programme at a ceremony at the Singapore Flyer, said he supported the scheme on two fronts.

"First, it uses electric cars, a green initiative. Second, it is about car-sharing, making better use of resources. If BlueSG and similar ideas take off in Singapore, they will help realise our car-lite vision, enhancing our quality of life and making the city more liveable," Mr Khaw wrote on Facebook.

About 2,000 users have signed up for BlueSG. There are two subscription plans - one charges a monthly subscription of $15, and 33 cents for each minute of use. The other has no monthly fee, but charges 50 cents a minute.

By the end of this year, BlueSG aims to have 110 cars and 42 charging stations with 165 charging points. Next year, the plan is to roll out between 100 and 150 more charging stations, along with 250 to 300 more cars, said BlueSG managing director Franck Vitte.

Mr Vitte said it is in talks with City Developments (CDL) to place charging stations at Republic Plaza, Central Mall and Quayside Isle in Sentosa Cove. This makes CDL the first private-sector landlord to partner BlueSG.

Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University, said the BlueSG initiative establishes the electric vehicle charging infrastructure for Singapore, and will give drivers confidence to buy such vehicles.

As the Government is providing financial support to install the charging infrastructure, 400 of the 2,000 charging points will be opened to public use.

Prof Subodh noted that for BlueSG to be financially sustainable, cars must be well utilised throughout the day.

Dr Walter Theseira, an economist at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, was less optimistic. He said the value proposition for car sharing in Singapore is low, as there is good public transportation coverage, and taxis or private-hire services offer comparable charges. "It remains to be seen if BlueSG has a scheme which is dramatically better than other competitors, which have not achieved significant scale or profits in Singapore," he added.

Mr Benjamin Ho, 28, who works in the IT industry, rented a BlueSG car to drive from Bedok to Yishun yesterday evening. The trip took 1hr 15min and cost him $26.

He said: "It won't be my ideal choice during the peak hours as I will get stuck in the jam and incur costs. But I can consider it for off-peak travel. Still, it was a quiet and smooth drive."

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