If we were to time travel a little more than a century back, Carl Benz would have just invented the first car—a groundbreaking invention that previous generations would not have imagined.

Fast forward to the present, the humble car has experienced multiple advancements, with self-driving cars and electric vehicles (EVs) emerging as forerunners in the mobility landscape. EVs, in particular, are taking the world by storm. It runs on a clean energy source, which makes it an environmentally sustainable way of travelling.

How is Singapore encouraging more citizens to adopt EVs to build a more sustainable city? Shawn Huang, Member of Parliament in Jurong Spring Group Representation Constituency (GRC), explains how car sharing and EVs can help Singapore green its transportation sector.

Greening the transportation sector

The Singapore Green Plan 2030 outlines the nation’s goal to build a more sustainable transportation sector and reduce carbon emissions on the road by 80 per cent. A major focus is to encourage more people to adopt EVs, so that Singapore can fully transition to clean-energy vehicles by 2040.

EVs are more environmentally sustainable than cars which run on petrol, as it reduces fossil fuel burning and pollutive emissions. In Singapore, EVs generate 50 per cent lesser carbon emissions than petrol cars, reported the Ministry of Transport. But despite this trend, less than five per cent of new cars registered in Singapore are electric.

Unlocking the potential of EVs with car sharing

Combining the trend of car sharing with EVs can unlock the potential of the transportation industry to become even more sustainable.

Currently, passenger cars are used very infrequently. They are used for a single trip for a few hours and remain idle for the majority of the day, explains Huang. But car sharing can reduce pollution as there will be a lower number of cars on the road. Cars will need fewer parking spaces, which means that there can be more spaces for greenery.

Sharing and collaboration will be the way forward toward a sustainable future, he adds.

GetGo, a car-sharing platform in Singapore, will be deploying an EV fleet as part of its car-sharing services in Jurong Spring. “Not only do we want to make car sharing a key pillar of our land transport ecosystem, but we also want to do it in an ever more sustainable manner,” shares Toh Ting Feng, Managing Director and Co-founder of GetGo.

Many car-sharing companies around the world, such as Uber, have also been adding EVs to their fleets. The city of Boston, for instance, launched shared EV fleets. Prices are determined based on the driver’s income level, which makes car-sharing services a more affordable alternative to private car ownership for the lower-income communities.

To encourage more residents to adopt EVs, Boston requires 25 per cent of parking spaces in new developments to have EV charging stations. Residents can also suggest places to install EV charging stations so these infrastructures are more accessible to them.

Encouraging residents to embrace EV-sharing 

Changing people’s mindset about EVs plays an important role in accelerating EV adoption. GetGo’s EV car-sharing project is piloted in Jurong Spring, a district with many multigenerational families, in hopes that it can spark conversations between family members about adopting EVs.

As Singapore undergoes a transition from petrol cars to EVs, residents might be hesitant to use EVs, highlights Huang. 30 per cent of Singaporean respondents were unwilling to buy EVs as they don’t know much about them, reported the Electric Vehicle Association of Singapore. Concerns included the cost of purchase and access to charging points.

But the younger generation, who might be more informed, can share with their families about the advantages of EVs over dinner tables. This can “kindle curious conversations about what EVs actually are”, shares Huang. For instance, they can direct family members to resources, such as online maps that show where EV charging stations in Singapore are located.

Building a culture of car sharing is also important. Most of us grew up with our own vehicles, Huang explains. But with car sharing, we will only be renting a shared car for a short period of time. “It’s really about [establishing] a code of conduct or principles about how we should take care of this shared asset,” emphasises Huang.

Increasing EV infrastructure

The EV car-sharing project is also piloted in Jurong Spring due to its close proximity to the Jurong Innovation District. “The district has a focus on technology, sustainable solutions, and future innovative companies,” Huang highlights. The spirit of innovation and availability of mobility expertise make it a suitable place for the project.

The various R&D facilities and companies there exploring EV innovations act as key resources to boost EV infrastructure in the region. For example, Hyundai’s smart factory and service center will be manufacturing EVs in the district, which the district can then use for the car-sharing fleet.

A gap in Singapore’s shared mobility landscape is the limited accessibility to EV infrastructure, such as charging ports or a large enough EV fleet to meet demand. It takes time for the industry to mature. As more people want to drive EVs, demand increases. Companies will have more confidence to invest in supplying more EVs, explains Huang.

Singapore plans to make every neighbourhood an EV-ready town by 2025. This will be done by installing charging points in almost 2,000 public carparks.

Car sharing is also a data-driven business, Huang adds. Companies need more people on board to collect data, such as peak use periods and length of use. More people need to use the car-sharing service, so there is more data available to better meet their needs.

“It’s a learning process”, Huang says. The government’s partnership with GetGo will encourage more residents to adopt car sharing and make travelling green a habit in their lives.

It’s not just EV technology that is driving this revolutionary shift in transportation. It’s the governments, companies, and people who create a transition from pollutive cars to green EVs together. With that, we are a step closer to building a city filled with clean air instead of smog, and lush greenery instead of congested roads.