A Dummies’ Guide To Owning An Electric Vehicle In Singapore




EV Pros and Cons

–  By our calculations, a EV can cost up to six times less to run, per km, than a conventional petrol car in terms of fuel cost alone

– EVs can be less costly to maintain than gasoline or diesel cars since they have fewer systems that require maintenance (no intake filter, no oil changes etc).

– With a range of at least 200km, modern EVs have more than enough range for the average Singaporean driver. 

– EVs are fun to drive thanks to the instant torque of their electric motors.

– EVs emit nothing from the tailpipe, and help reduce local air pollution.

Our EV vs Petrol chart from 2018 – old but still relevant unless petrol prices go insanely cheap

EV: Cons
EVs have only just become more affordable, but they’re still expensive, compared to a mainstream gasoline car.

– You’ll need your own charging station where you can charge a car for at least five hours, or even overnight. typically this means a landed property or at the very least, a private parking space.

– The current public network for EV charging in Singapore is expanding, but still not widespread enough that everyone can have an easily accessible charge point for the time required.

– EVs are only as clean as the power used to charge them.

– EVs are still not suitable for drivers who need to cover more than 300km a day.

The EVs available for sale in Singapore

Compared to 2016, or even 2018, there are now quite a few choices for Singaporeans wanting to buy a privately-owned, passenger EV, so much so that making a choice can be difficult. CarBuyer.com.sg has driven almost all of the EVs on sale here, and you can click on the links in the table below for their respective reviews.

We’ve also come up with a guide for the best mainstream EVs available for sale for under S$200,000 (with COE) in Singapore in 2021, so check that out if you wanna see what’s the best EV for your money

EV Ranges Compared

CarRange
Audi E-Tron417km
Audi E-Tron Sportback315km
Audi RS E-Tron GT433-472km
BMW i3s200km
BMW iX3454km
BYD M3e300km
Hyundai Ioniq Electric311km
Hyundai Kona Electric305km
Hyundai Kona Electric Long Range482km
Jaguar I-Pace470km
Kia Niro Electric455km
Lexus UX 300e300km
Mercedes EQA426km
Mercedes EQC423km
MG 5 EV403km
MG ZS EV335km
Mini Cooper SE Electric234-270km
Nissan Leaf300km
Porsche Taycan 4S414km
Tesla Model 3567km

The earliest EVs CarBuyer tested here were enough to give any driver range anxiety, range panic, and range generalised depression disorder. As you can see however, there are now far more EVs available on the market that can do at least 200km on a full charge, and several that can cover double that distance, or at least come close to that in the real world.

The average Singapore driver covers 17,500km a year, or 48km a day, so that’s more than enough, but we still do not recommend a BEV for those who drive very long distances daily, unless you have access to daily charging at home.

Where To Charge

Charging an EV can be done at home (with a wallbox, see below). The biggest challenge to EV ownership is if you don’t have a landed home, or access to a private charger, which honestly is the case for most of us Singaporeans.

Currently for Singapore, the network of public EV chargers is quite small, though it has expanded greatly in recent times. BMW and Hyundai allow charging at their own showroom premises.


“The biggest challenge to EV ownership is if you don’t have a landed home, or access to a private charger…”


The provider for public charging is Greenlots (www.greenlots.com), where anyone can register for an account and a RFID card. At Greenlots stations you tap the card, charge the car, and pay by hour, from $1.50 to $2.00 per station.

While it has an established network of chargers across Singapore – 50 stations at 34 locations – only eight of the public stations have the latest Type 2 charge socket. Type 2 is the new European standard for EV charging and it’s the standard widely adopted in Singapore.

Greenlots has also installed charging stations at a small number of condominiums – with MCST approval – with Type 2 chargers, and it looks set to increase in future, so EV ownership could be a definite possibility to those who stay in condominiums in the near future.

As of July 2018, SP Group has its own EV charging network in Singapore, with 500 planned charge points around the island. In 2021 it has 30 charge locations around the island. Its DC and AC fast charge stations are open to the public and accessed via the SP app. The app is quite useful – you can monitor the charges and amount of charging done in real time. 

As of 2019, Shell also has a small network of AC and DC fast chargers. It has also announced plans with Porsche to build the fastest BEV charge network to date – 150kW – stretching from here to Penang.

There are a lot more charge points planned as well. By 2022, there will be EV charge points at more than 200 public carparks. By 2030, the plan is to have 28,000 charge points with at least two-thirds of those in HDB carparks.

How To Charge An EV

We show you how to fast charge an EV at a public station

Technically you can plug your electric car into a wall socket, but first of all it needs a safety-approved charge cable (not all of them are) or else there is a risk of fire. It’s not unhard of for e-bikes to catch fire while charging, and lithium battery fires are no joke.

Also, not all wall sockets cannot provide enough current (amperage) to charge an EV safely and quickly. It is possible with an approved charge cable, but these are typically much slower than a wallbox.

The best way to charge an EV is with a wallbox. These are charging units specially-installed by the dealer at the owner’s place of choice, and usually included in the purchase price of the car.

BMW’s wallbox chargers

It’s simple enough: Open the charge port on the car, plug in the charger head, and voila. Wallboxes are complex pieces of equipment and much safer than wall sockets, so they will automatically shut-off when the battery is topped up, as well as thermally manage the process for safety.

How Long Does Charging Take?

Again this is something that differs depending on what equipment you have – just like Fast Charging for smartphones, different chargers deliver different performance.

Simply put, electrical power is measured in watts. Power is defined as the capacity to do work. For example, an air conditioner uses 1000 watts per hour, that is one kilowatt hour (power used over time). Watts is obtained by volts (electrical potential) times amperage (electrical current flow).

Fast chargers – such as this one from SP Group – can charge some BEVs to 80 percent in half an hour.

Chargers with a higher voltage rating, or ampere rating, will charge a car more quickly. To use the smartphone example again, that’s why a 2.4A charger tops up your iPhone more quickly than a 1.2A one, while USB standard voltage of 5V remains the same.

Faster charging is not usually obtainable through standard-issue wallboxes, most of them deliver a charge rated at 7.0kW or more. The amount of charge also depends on the place the box is installed in. An old residence may be unable to handle higher loads, while an industrial building will be able to deliver the fastest three-phase or even DC fast-charging. If your home has three-phase power (talk to your electrician) then a faster charger can be installed.

But generally speaking, home wallbox chargers in Singapore will usually be able to charge modern electric cars in five hours or more though larger, more expensive, and more powerful EVs will have larger capacity batteries and take longer.

For instance, the BMW i3 has a 27kWh battery and can be charged in less than four hours,with a 7.4kW power supply.  An Audi E-Tron with a 90kWh battery would take 12 hours on the same charger.

Also note that different BEVs have different charge rates. Hyundai’s Ioniq Electric has a maximum charge rate of DC 50kW, while the Audi E-Tron’s is DC 150kW. The Porsche Taycan has a maximum charge rate of DC 270kW. IF you plugged in a 100kW charger to the Hyundai, it would still charge at a maximum rate of 50kW.

Help! I’ve run out of juice…

It’s quite unlikely – in our experience, the current crop of EVs are very truthful about range indicated on their trip computers, so a little planning should ensure you’re never stranded. But if something happens, there’s a support system for that.

BMW has 24-hour recovery, plus an extended suite of coverage for BMW i owners under its BMW i Roadside Assistance, which covers everything from cab costs, bringing your car to the charge station, or even getting back home if you’re further afield (more than 100km away).

Hyundai has its unique vehicle-to-vehicle recovery service (above) where a rescue Ioniq Electric will charge your car with enough juice to get it to the nearest charge station. Owners can use it 10 times during their five-year vehicle warranty period. Komoco says the recovery vehicle will be on-site within an hour (it’s a 24-hour hotline service) and can charge the Ioniq Electric to 44km range in half an hour.

Continue to Page 3 for the costs of buying and running an EV in Singapore

about the author

CarBuyer Team
CarBuyer Singapore / CarBuyer.com.sg brings the most relevant, accurate and useful car news to Singaporeans in both print and online formats.