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Asia: 50 electric charging stations to come up this year

A $20 MILLION initiative to put the first fleet of electric cars on Singapore roads this year is picking up pace, with the Government calling a tender soon for a network of charging stations.

The Energy Market Authority (EMA) said the tender will be out this quarter, and that the network will be up by the third or fourth quarter of this year.

EMA deputy chief executive David Tan said: ‘We envisage that there will be at least one charging station for each electric vehicle being tested.’

The Straits Times understands that there will be around 50 stations, with three being quick-charge kiosks. The latter can recharge an electric vehicle in about half an hour, versus the usual six to eight hours that a regular station manages.

The stations, which are likely to use a smartcard-based payment system, will be sited at or near the premises of parties involved in test-driving Singapore’s maiden fleet of battery-powered cars.

The multimillion-dollar trial is meant to study the robustness, cost-effectiveness and environmental impact of electric vehicles in a tropical setting.

Individuals who want to be part of the test, however, are likely to be disappointed. There will not be enough cars for them.

Mr Tan explained that priority is being given to companies and organisations, as ‘there are limited electric vehicles available’.

Participants are required to buy the electric cars for the three-year trial. Although they will be exempt from taxes such as the certificate of entitlement fee and the Additional Registration Fee (ARF), the cars will not come cheap.

For instance, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV subcompact, expected to be the first to arrive in July, will cost $85,000 to $90,000 each – the price of a big family sedan.

Mr Alvyn Ang, general manager at Mitsubishi agent Cycle & Carriage, said he expects to bring in 20 to 50 cars initially.

‘The number depends on how many parties sign up for the trial,’ he said. ‘We are supplying them at close to cost price.’

So far, about 50 organisations have attended informal forums held by EMA and Cycle & Carriage, including an ‘electric road show’ held last Friday at Cycle & Carriage’s Alexandra Road showroom.

These include Sentosa Development Corporation, NTUC Income Car Co-op, courier giant DHL, power companies Singapore Power and Kyushu Electric Power, and a number of learning institutions and government-linked bodies.

Sentosa Development Corp corporate planning director Chan Mun Wei said preserving the ‘greenness’ of the 500ha resort island ‘is of great importance to us’, adding that Sentosa is looking to change its fleet of diesel transit buses to hybrids.

‘It is likely that we will take part in the test,’ he said, even though Sentosa will not benefit from the tax-exempt status of the trial electric cars as its current fleet of petrol vehicles are already tax-exempt.

ITE College West principal Yek Tiew Ming said the school is keen to get on board the trial, too.

‘We want to be part of it to understand the technology better,’ he said, adding that the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) will offer a course on maintenance and repair of electric vehicles once they become more widely used.

Besides Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, which is already in use in Japan, two other manufacturers have confirmed their participation in the trial.

They are Renault, whose electric Fluence and Kangoo models are expected here by early next year, and Nissan, whose Leaf electric hatchback will arrive between mid- and late-2011.

But Renault will be sporting a small fleet of electric cars during the Youth Olympics here, which runs from Aug 14 to 26.

Other makes which are looking to participate in the trial include Mercedes- Benz and BMW. If they join up, they are likely to do so with the electric Smart and Mini E, respectively.


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