Electric Vehicles Charging Bill – Speech by Dennis Tan

Mr Speaker, one of the first widely produced models of the battery-powered electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, was launched in 2010. Feted as a breakthrough model, the Leaf was considered one of the most efficient and user-friendly electric cars.

A decade later, Singapore is beginning its journey towards electrification. In March this year, I spoke briefly on the need for greater electrification of our commercial goods fleet and expansion of charging infrastructure during the Committee of Supply Debates. The Minister acknowledged that there are fewer viable cleaner-energy solutions currently available for the heavier goods vehicles. I am concerned that such goods vehicles may continue to be a significant contributor to our land transport emissions as a result.

There is an important point to make here. Since the 2020 COVID pandemic, e-commerce and the accompanying last mile deliveries have seen a surge in demand. The World Economic Forum estimated that last-mile deliveries saw an increase in 25%, with up to 20% of the growth remaining post-pandemic. As I alluded to in March, with pre-pandemic growth in last mile-delivery increasing carbon emissions by 30% by 2030, a lack of supporting infrastructure to encourage electric vehicle adoption could have deleterious effects on our ability to reduce our emissions and meet our carbon neutral goals as a country.
We should bear in mind that we have a large number of commercial, goods and heavy vehicles locally as well as a large number of goods vehicles which come in from Malaysia on a daily basis.

To that end, while the Ministry has focused on using the “sticks” of the Commercial Vehicle Emissions Schemes (CVES) and the Early Turnover Scheme (ETS) to encourage the adoption of cleaner energy light goods vehicles locally, I would reiterate that a lack of widely available charging infrastructure, particularly for the “brown” goods delivery fleets, is a significant roadblock to our green goals.

The Electric Vehicles Charging Bill (“EVC Bill’) is certainly a welcome step in the right direction. With (to be) stipulated requirements for charging points in buildings, this ensures that charging infrastructure is established to match the mandated increase in demand. As the number of charging points required is correlated with the purpose of the building, I urge the Minister to take a tailored approach to each building. A distribution hub which uses purely electric vehicles may be more likely to require more
charging points compared to a residential block. I would like to touch on two separate issues with the charging infrastructure; one for residential premises, and one for industrial premises.

Mr Speaker, LTA has indicated that 12 charging points will be installed in 2000 HDB carparks, with a total of 12,000 chargers to be installed by 2025, subject to demand1. The longer-term goal was to have 60,000 charging points island-wide by 2030. As I previously highlighted, an important measure in the deployment of these chargers is the siting and number of chargers, with a critical mass needed to support charging and minimise queues for charging points.

The EVC Bill has taken a step down this path, with a formula-based approach to determining the number of chargers required per building. As of end 2021, we had approximately 3,700 electric vehicles registered on the road, double the previous year’s numbers. Moving forward we should expect the numbers to increase exponentially. I would like to ask the Minister whether he can share more details as to how the ministry arrive at the formula that is being used to determine the number of chargers which would be optimum for each building.

Evidently, some calculations have gone into determining that 12,000 chargers might be necessary by 2025. If I assume that an average privately owned EV travels approximately 60km2 a day, and has a range of approximately 300km, then the average driver would need to charge his vehicle (to full) every 4 days3. This could mean that a significant scaling up of charging points would be necessary, given current trends4; 12,000 chargers island-wide may not be enough if we are successful in encouraging EV adoption.

Is the Minister able to share with the House how the LTA expects to keep up with possible rising demand?

And may I also ask whether LTA is considering building charging points on a larger scale in advance of demand – perhaps even taking on the risk that there might in the short term be some excess and underutilised capacity?

My concern is that it will be harder to persuade more to convert to electric cars if they see that the charging facilities are insufficient. This is not even considering that the price of many EVs remain relatively expensive.

There is also the possible issue that if more people convert to EVs and the EV car numbers were to go up ahead of the building of sufficient infrastructure, there may be a period of frustration for vehicle owners as they cope with insufficient facilities in their immediate vicinity.

Still on EV charging for residential and public car parks, I have received feedback that there are owners who have parked their electric vehicles at parking lots with EV chargers without actually charging their cars. May I ask whether the Government will take adequate measures to deter such acts at public car parks (instead of relying on public feedback through say the MSO) and if so what would they be?

Next, I would like to seek an update from the minister on the progress of our condominiums, office and commercial buildings and other MCSTs on their adoption of EV chargers in their carparks as their timely participation is also important in our country’s EV conversion journey.

I now move on to the topic of commercial and industrial usage of EVs. Mr Speaker, direct Government support to electrify a delivery fleet, and direct Government support to build charging infrastructure in industrial facilities like distribution hubs can send a powerful signal that we are serious and committed about leading carbon emission reduction across all segments of our land transport. I note that we are already on the CCS charging format; several heavy goods vehicle offerings available globally are already built for this charging format. The largest of these vehicles are able to tow up to a GCWR of 40,000kg. This is roughly equivalent to a single 40ft ISO container. While an electric heavy vehicle range might understandably be shorter (say approximately 200km range on a single charge), government support would be a powerful incentive to modernise and “green” a domestic transport fleet.

I would like to know how would the Government ensure the timely electrification of all commercial, goods and heavy vehicles? As a topic for discussion or consideration, would MOT even consider a more prescriptive approach by say, legislating a requirement for a fleet to be completely electrified by a set date, and support fleet owners by dedicating public resources to building large scale fast charging points at central areas such as the port and strategically placed distribution hubs?

Similar to the point made for charging infrastructure for private vehicles, Government funding for charging infrastructure will give industry stakeholders the assurance that the large-scale investment will not bankrupt their company or have too large an impact on their bottom line.

Mr Speaker, in March this year, the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Minister Grace Fu highlighted how our investments in science and technology continued to unlock possibilities in Singapore’s development. Specifically, she mentioned how R&D for Newater and desalination raised Singapore’s profile as a leading global hydrohub.

I hope that our Government has also been actively looking for similar R&D opportunities in areas related to EVs and EVC technology including charging facility, charging infrastructure, or even battery technology. Thia may help to not only enhance the development and use of better technology in our own electrification efforts locally, it would also help Singapore in our journey towards a low emission future. It may also lead to new technologies which could be exported, giving a boost to the Singapore economy and creating new areas of growth in our manufacturing industry.

In conclusion, Mr Speaker, the shift towards higher adoption of electric vehicles and a low-emission economy is in motion and I look forward to the further ramping up of all efforts to full electrification. I support the bill.

Delivered in Parliament on 30 November 2022


1 https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/12000-new-electric-vehicle-charging-points-hdb-car-parks-ltatender-3038056

2 Being the equivalent of a return trip from Jurong West to the CBD with additional intra-day travel
3 Assuming that the driver does not take the risk of running the battery to zero. Based on feedback from EV PHVs, they would not accept jobs if their battery has limited range remaining; the rate of depletion apparently accelerates as batteries near empty
4 Assumptions made: charging time continues to remain a matter of hours rather than minutes, growth in
vehicle numbers continues to be rapid, there is a congregation of drivers at the same points (i.e. no scattering of office and residential spaces)