SINGAPORE: More than 9,000 people have registered for Singapore's first electric car-sharing service BlueSG in its first few months with the service seeing more than 20,000 rentals as at Feb 28, less than three months after it launched on Dec 12 last year.
BlueSG's managing director Franck Vitte said on Friday (Mar 16) that the company had seen "overwhelming demand" for more stations and cars, and was working actively with relevant agencies towards this.
"The exceptional response from the public proves that BlueSG is very well adapted to Singapore and appreciated by its residents," he said.
The company deployed 80 cars with 32 charging stations on Dec 12, 2017, and plans to roll out a 1,000-strong electric vehicle fleet and 2,000 charging points by 2020.
Its fleet has clocked more than 410,000km in mileage, which the company said has saved more than 100,000kg in carbon dioxide emissions.
However, industry players told Channel NewsAsia that BlueSG's impact has yet to be felt.
"Twenty thousand rentals is not really a big number, and in terms of the business point of view, they really have to do better," said Dr Park Byung Joon, a transport analyst from the Singapore University of Social Sciences. "But on the positive side, it may not be a bad signal as a kind of starting point."
"Now we have taxis, Uber and Grab, and now this can add one more option for mobility."
As for the electric car-sharing service's true environmental impact, Dr Park said this needed to be studied more carefully.
"For the environmental benefits of electric vehicles (EVs), it is my personal opinion, but sometimes we are slightly overstating it," he said. "The electricity has to come from somewhere, which means it is generated by burning of fossil fuels."
"Also, at the end of the product life, an EV is going to produce a used-up battery that needs to be recycled, and the battery isn’t exactly an environmentally friendly product - so if we have a lot of EVs around, we may end up having millions of used car batteries.”
"More charging stations mean more pick-up points, drop-off points, which naturally requires more vehicles," the transport analyst said in relation to BlueSG's expansion plans. "If they genuinely want to serve the whole of Singapore, then they need to have that kind of fleet."
Meanwhile, local car rental company Popular Rent A Car said the introduction of the electric car-sharing programme has had little impact on its business.
"We have no reports of our members jumping ship. If you're talking about the car-sharing division alone, we are kind of targeting a different group of customers, because our business model is a little different," said Mr Ho Kok Kee, managing director of the company.
"Theirs is providing point-to-point transportation, which may work for some customers, but ours is a round-trip model (where) the customer has to pick from one location and back to the same location."
Mr Ho added that he was working to ensure his business keeps up with industry changes, but said that adding electric cars to his fleet was not on the cards for now.
“We will be evolving with the market as well - at the moment the electric car, to be honest, is not conducive for our industry, because there’s really a lack of charging stations, a lack of choice, and the cost is also prohibitive," he said.