It seems like Singapore’s aggressive efforts to phase out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles are slowly starting to pay off.
Electric vehicle (EV) adoption numbers have been on the rise. EVs account for more than 10 per cent of all new car registrations in 2022, nearly tripling the adoption rate in 2021.
In September alone, it reached a record high of 19 per cent, with one in every five vehicles registered as EVs.
However, the same cannot be said in the commercial vehicle segment, where factors such as vehicle cost, vehicle availability, and the inconveniences of charging EVs have caused small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to think twice about jumping on the EV bandwagon.
These issues prompted EVCo — an electric mobility startup set up by SMRT’s Strides Mobility and DST, one of China’s largest EV platforms in April 2022 — to come up with a new scheme that is slated to start next year.
Called EV-Work, it is Singapore’s largest ride-sharing programme for commercial vehicles, targeted at SMEs and independent last-mile service providers.
Driving down costs for businesses
EVCo is an end-to-end solutions provider for companies looking to transition into electric mobility.
“Ride-sharing was never in our initial business model, however the requirements of our customers — who needed a cost-effective, flexible way to scale up or down operations based on their sales volumes — inspired us to build a financial and operational model for this purpose,” said Fuji Foo, managing director of EVCo.
Furthermore, he sees the SME market segment as the most competitive in any country.
“Companies are fighting tooth and nail for every advantage, therefore a cost-efficient solution to mobility was always going to resonate better,” he explained.
Since businesses can accordingly scale their fleet based on sales volumes, this can help them to reduce fixed costs and inherent risks of taking on too much too soon.
On the other hand, for contract drivers who own the vehicles, they get to work efficiently without a high upfront capital risk.
“No man is an island. Mass EV adoption is only possible when we build a strong ecosystem of services designed to address the needs of the wider community,” said Foo.
“Not only does our EV-Work fleet reduce carbon emissions produced in the process of parcel delivery to Singaporean households, but it is also accessible in price, helping any independent delivery driver retain more earnings.”
For added convenience, EV-Work has partnered P.Up, Singapore’s first on-demand mobile EV charging service, to charge and clean each EV vehicle overnight so that the vehicle is ready for use the next morning.
“P.UP is proud to partner EVCo in creating an environment where our SMEs can adopt EVs without having to worry about availability and convenience. At the same time, we have committed to onboard 100 EV-Work vans on annual programmes as our P.UPPIES,” said Michael Chin, founder of Power Up Tech (P.UP).
“We are fully supportive of this initiative, mainly because it helps SMEs transition to EVs in a cost-efficient manner, without them having to invest heavily in infrastructure while being able to draw the benefits of this EV revolution,” said fellow co-founder KM.
“Everybody uses their cars differently, but in terms of energy cost, SMEs and business owners can expect a 40 to 50 per cent reduction on average, comparing between EV charging costs and diesel and petrol.”
He roughly calculated that the average business travels about 5,000km a month, and the fuel cost for this amounts to about S$1,500. However, if they were to opt for EV mobile charging with P.UP, the cost is halved to about S$700 to S$750.
“And they don’t have to cater to any costs like infrastructure, capex (capital expenditure), so it’s pure savings,” added KM.
Making it easy for SMEs to adopt EVs
There are as many as 20 EV-Work clusters planned islandwide, where the user can access EV-Work’s medium-sized light goods vans.
There are three different subscription plans in place. They can opt to pay a one-time fee to use the van for a full charge, which gets an average use of 220km; or opt for a more cost-effective monthly scheme.
As for its annual scheme, SMEs get the added perk of branding the EVs in their company colours.
The initiative aims to rollout a 2,000-strong fleet, 550 of which will be operational from January 2023.
Out of the first 550 vehicles, 60 per cent of them have already been subscribed by local SMEs, majority of which belong in the logistics and last-mile industries.
For instance, SOS Logistics has committed 100 EV-Work vans under the annual programme.
“EV-Work is a gamechanger for my business. It helps me to scale according to my business needs without the worries of capital expenditure and operating expenses,” said Markus Lim, founder of SOS Logistics.
Meanwhile, William Ng, general manager of same-day delivery company U-Parcel said that EV-Work allows its regular drivers to save on costs, while the availability of an islandwide fleet conveniences its ad-hoc drivers to pick up jobs quickly.
These customer stories are evident of the productivity gains and reduced costs that businesses stand to benefit from EV-Work.
“This is a very small first step in our ambition to ensure EV adoption, and the environmental benefits that come with this adoption, is accessible to every business,” said Foo.
Commenting on the EV landscape in Singapore, Foo said that the number of EVs on the road will be limited to the number of Certificates of Entitlement (COEs) issued and the pricing of the COE.
While it is still unclear if there will be giant leap in EV adoption, he is confident that with companies like EVCo taking the lead in bringing about change, the EV revolution is well-positioned and set to grow even more.
Summing up on future plans, Foo said that there are plenty of opportunities to explore in Singapore and beyond, and that they will soon announce “significant partnerships” in Thailand and Australia.
Featured Image Credit: SMRT