Despite current lukewarm attitudes towards the adoption of electrified vehicles in Singapore, Nissan believes that change is just around the corner
There’s something about familiarity that makes people feel wary about moving out of their comfort zones, and a study commissioned by Nissan Asean last year showed that drivers in Singapore are less sure about owning electrified cars compared to those in neighbouring countries.
The findings were presented in Nissan Futures, a virtual conference that was presented to the media in Southeast Asia on 4th February.
3,000 people across six countries in Southeast Asia were asked about their opinions on electric vehicles in the exercise conducted by research consultancy Frost and Sullivan.
Just 30 percent of Singaporeans polled said that they would ‘certainly’ buy an electric vehicle for their next car, compared to 50 percent in Indonesia, 43 percent in Thailand, and 45 percent in the Philippines.
While traffic and noise pollution fatigue in the more congested cities may have a part to play in drivers wishing to own a quieter and more efficient car, other factors at play include the lack of better tax incentives and charging infrastructure in residential areas.
Change is already starting to take shape in 2021 though. Ron Lim, the head of sales and marketing at Nissan distributor Tan Chong Motor Sales in Singapore, explained, “With the increased VES and additional EEAI incentives that kicked-off on 1st January 2021, we are already seeing very positive development and take-up rate.”
He further revealed that in 2020, Tan Chong Motor only sold five of its electric Nissan Leafs in Singapore but in the month of January 2021 alone the dealership has already sold the same amount. Enquiries and test drives of the car have also jumped by more than three-fold compared to the same period last year.
Lim feels that the recently announced higher incentives have finally allowed more electric vehicles to be priced at a more reasonable level to entice more mainstream customers into considering them as a viable option. Coupled with the proliferation of a more robust charging network and more product options coming into the market, BEV (battery electric vehicle) sales should see much stronger growth going forward.
Still, there are administrative hurdles to surmount in Singapore.
Lim shares, “Currently, there doesn’t seem to be any alignment between the various government agencies to ensure priority is placed to choose electric or hybrid vehicles over standard petrol models when procuring new or replacement vehicles for government fleets. Many of the guidelines are still based on dated frameworks with a strong emphasis on traditional engine capacities, which simply do not apply to electric vehicles.”
He feels that a strong take-up of electric vehicles by government agencies will not only increase the technology’s visibility but will also encourage more car buyers to view them as viable options.
It’s also worth noting that electric vehicles do not mean exclusively cars that need to be plugged into a mains grid to recharge. Nissan’s own e-Power system and the BMW i3 both feature self-charging systems that use an onboard petrol engine to generate energy for the car’s batteries, which in turn do the actual work of propelling the vehicle.
Nissan is already set to start selling the second-generation Note e-Power here next month. The hatchback is already the Japanese brand’s best-selling model in its home market, and the new car has been improved with a 10 percent increase in electric motor torque and the promise of an even quieter drive than before.
The Nissan Kicks e-Power arrived in Singapore in mid-2020, smack in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, but registered a healthy interest with buyers here. The brand’s strategy in Singapore is broadly similar to what many other dealerships appear to be doing for 2021: get more drivers into hybrid and self-charging vehicles like e-Power models, made easier now with EVEAI incentives, then as the population comes to grips with the evolution of vehicle technology the next step will be on to full BEVs.
Tan Chong Motor has sold more than 1,200 e-Power variants of Nissan vehicles since the technology was introduced, and in 2020 alone, 761 e-Power Nissans were sold in Singapore out of a total of 1,578 new Nissan vehicle registrations.
So despite the somewhat downbeat survey results on driver attitudes towards electrified vehicles in Singapore, we think an upswing is well underway for 2021.