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Electric Vehicles for Beginners in Singapore

No, electric vehicles aren’t cars powered by a certain yellow little creature that you can tell to use “thundershock”. Neither does the acronym “EV” imply that exposing it to an elemental stone will change its form. But honestly – how awesome would that be?

In an effort to combat climate change, Singapore plans to phase out the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040 in favour of full adoption of electric vehicles. By now you must have already seen some electric cars appearing on our roads, from car-sharing service BlueSG to the famed Teslas. 

But you may still be wondering what exactly an electric vehicle is and how much will it cost? 

The first thing to know is that there are 3 types of electric vehicles:

  1. Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)
  2. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
  3. Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)


Hybrid Electric Vehicle 

Toyota Yaris Cross

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Hybrids are likely what you’re most familiar with, working on an internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor. The ICE gets its power from fuel while its electric motor is powered by batteries. This battery is then charged through regenerative braking technology, whereby the energy lost during braking is captured and used to charge the battery.

The combustion engine and electric motor work together seamlessly when on the road, shifting between both where necessary. For example, when accelerating or under heavy load, the electric motor will assist the ICE, thus reducing fuel consumption. 

The Toyota Yaris Cross is a fine example of a hybrid, and was released earlier this year. Check out our friends at CarBuyer’s review of the Toyota Yaris Cross.


Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle

BMW 530e

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Building upon the hybrid, plug-in hybrids – as the name suggests – can be plugged into an external charger to charge its battery in addition to regenerative braking tech. It also runs on conventional fuel. Because its battery is larger than a regular hybrid’s, a PHEV can drive on electric power alone. The latest PHEVs are able to cover nearly 100km on electricity.

Battery out of juice? This is when the ICE kicks in to take over. A PHEV can also juggle combustion power and electrons for maximum performance, staying true to its hybrid name. 


Battery Electric Vehicle

Tesla Model 3

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BEVs (or just EVs if you’re into the whole brevity thing) get their drive from fully electric motors. Electricity is stored in the battery which provides the power to the motor (or motors, depending on how much oomph you want your BEV to have). 

Because of this lack of an internal combustion engine, BEVs have zero tailpipe emissions. The brakes in BEVs are also regenerative which means that whenever you slow down, the battery gets a quick shot of free energy.

And just like your cellphone, when the battery runs low all you have to do is plug it in. The chargers for BEVs are vastly different from what you would use for your cellphones of course – no portable charging is available for your car…yet? Depending on your vehicle, you’ll require either the fast-charging DC or its slower AC counterpart.


(Related article: The Best Electric Cars In Singapore)


So now that you know the types of electric vehicles out there, you might be wondering – how much does one cost? With the technology involved you might think electric cars will burn yet another hole in your wallet in addition to all the other costs that come with car ownership. 

In a bid to encourage adoption, the Land Transport Authority has implemented multiple schemes and revisions to make this transition affordable.

In the long run you will generally enjoy reduced energy and maintenance costs. With fully electric vehicles all you will be paying for is the length of charge, and depending on the type of station you use, a possible membership fee that comes at a small price.

And because motors have far fewer moving parts than engines, their servicing needs are pretty minimal, saving you a ton of money in the ownership process. 

Generally, BEVs are still more expensive than equivalent combustion cars to manufacture, but there are multiple schemes in place to narrow the price gap and make the switch more affordable.

EV Early Adopter Incentive

Registering your fully electric vehicle from now till 31 December 2021 qualifies you for a 45 percent rebate off your car’s additional registration fee (ARF), capped at S$20,000.

However, from January 2022 onwards up till December 2023, the cap will be removed.

Enhanced Vehicular Emissions Scheme 

The Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES) makes some cars eligible for a rebate of either S$15,000 or S$25,000. This is calculated on how much carbon dioxide your car emits, along with other pollutants: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. 

VES is punitive, too. The dirtiest cars end up attracting a surcharge of up to S$25,000 instead. The good news is, both the EEAI and VES are stackable, so some cars get S$45,000 taken off their price. Guess this makes the case for electric vehicles even stronger!

Road tax revision

To further incentivise the use of EVs, calculation of road tax will also be revised for EVs from registered from 2021 onwards, with an across-the-board reduction. However, as you are no longer paying for fuel nor subject to fuel excise duties, an additional sum will be added to your payable road tax. This sum will be slowly phased in over the next 3 years, but not to worry! The initial decrease in road tax balances this out. 


So there it is! Now you have a basic understanding of the types of electric vehicles available on the market, and the commitment Singapore has made to fully adopt this cleaner alternative. Convinced to make the switch? Check out our Marketplace and Blog for more reviews on the top hybrid and electric models in Singapore!

EV weekend singapore

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