SINGAPORE: From April, high-powered electric motorcycles may be used on Singapore's roads, in line with efforts to encourage the adoption of cleaner vehicles in the country.
Under current regulations, only electric motorcycles with a power rating of no more than 10 kilowatts (kW) are allowed. Those motorcycles are also barred from use on expressways.
However, from Apr 1, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will allow motorcycles with power ratings of more than than 10kW to be ridden on the roads.
Electric motorcycles with a top speed of at least 50kmh will also be allowed on expressways from next month.
Announcing the move - as well as a slew of other measures to incentivise the adoption of electric vehicles - Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said this was in line with efforts to update regulations to keep pace with technology.
“Motorcyclists can then now do their part for the environment by choosing an electric model,” said Dr Janil during the Transport Ministry’s (MOT) Committee of Supply debate on Thursday (Mar 5).
This comes after Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced during his Budget speech last month a number of measures to spur electric vehicle (EV) adoption, as well as plans to phase out the use of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2040.
The road tax structure for electric motorcycles will be aligned with that of conventional ICE motorcycles, with their power ratings pegged to those of ICE equivalents.
For example, an electric motorcycle with a power rating of between 10 and 96kW would be equivalent to an ICE model with an engine capacity of between 200cc and 1,000cc, and would have to similarly pay between S$31 and S$125 in road tax.
An additional annual tax of S$200 will also be progressively phased in for electric motorcycles over three years, beginning with S$50 in 2021.
In his Budget speech Mr Heng said that such a “lump sum tax” for electric vehicles is needed to make up for the loss in fuel excise duties, which currently amount to about S$1 billion a year.
“This will enhance parity in the treatment of ICE and electric vehicles, until we are ready to introduce a distance-based tax,” said the LTA.
Existing licencing requirements will also apply to electric motorcyclists.
For example, a class 2B licence - currently required for riding an ICE motorcycle not exceeding 200cc - would also be required for a electric motorcycle with a power rating of not more than 15kW.
Electric motorcycles have been picking up speed in recent years, with manufacturers such as Harley-Davidson, Honda and Vespa introducing fully electric models.
According to figures from the LTA, there are currently just two electric motorcycles registered in Singapore, out of a total motorcycle population of more than 140,000.
FURTHER INCENTIVES FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLE ADOPTION
Dr Janil also announced further measures to make it more attractive to use electric vehicles.
Taxi companies will only need to pay the minimum Additional Registration Fee of S$5,000 for mass market EV taxi models, he said.
“As fleets like taxis stand to benefit more from the lower mileage costs of EVs, we hope this incentivises more taxi companies to expand their electric taxi fleet,” he added.
And while existing EV owners are not eligible for the EV Early Adoption Incentive - which allows EV buyers a rebate of up to 45 per cent on the Addition Registration Fee (ARF), capped at S$20,000 - they will benefit from a technical revision to the variable component of their road tax, said Dr Janil.
“As a special transitional arrangement, we will exempt them from the additional flat component of the new EV road tax that was introduced at this year’s Budget,” he said.
“This component, which was introduced to partly account for the loss in fuel excise duties that EVs do not incur, will be waived for a three-year period from Jan 1, 2021 to Dec 31, 2023 for all EVs registered before this period.”
These measures will allow them to see a reduction in road tax during this period, he said.
The additional tax component will be waived for three years for all existing owners of electric cars, fully electric motorcycles, light goods vehicles and goods-passenger vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes, as well as those who register such vehicles before Jan 1 next year.
“For existing electric car owners who have already paid the road tax for the period beyond Jan 1, 2021 based on the existing road tax schedule, any excess road tax paid will be used to offset the amount payable at the next road tax renewal,” said the LTA in a statement.
It noted that any excess road tax paid will accrue to the new registered owner if ownership of the vehicle is transferred to another person before its next road tax renewal.
“Buyers are advised to check with the party they are buying vehicles from, on the refund of the amount of excess payment of road tax before the vehicle is transferred,” the authority added.
READ: Incentives likely to encourage electric vehicle adoption in Singapore, but questions remain, say analysts
Dr Janil also announced that a Japanese fast-charging method for EVs called CHAdeMO - short for Charge De Move - has been approved as an option for public charging stations in Singapore.
This will be in addition to the two existing standards for charging stations - the slow-charging Type 2 alternating current (AC) and fast-charging Combo 2 direct current (DC) chargers.
“This enables charging providers to bring in a larger range of public charging options for EV users and supports the wider adoption of EVs in Singapore,” said the LTA and the Energy Market Authority (EMA) in a statement.
A CHAdeMO charger with a power rating of up to 120kW would be able to charge an EV in about half an hour, said the two agencies, noting that models such as the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi iMiEV are compatible with CHAdeMO.
CHAdeMO chargers with a power rating of no more than 120kW can be imported and installed, but must be provided alongside Type 2 AC or Combo 2 DC charging points.
“This is to ensure sufficient interoperability for existing EVs in the market,” said LTA and EMA.
Though several MPs had raised the possibility of the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in Singapore, Dr Janil said while the technology may be viable in the future, it is currently "less suited for mainstream use".
"Singapore lacks a supply of green hydrogen to power hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. So if we chose that path there will be higher technology, infrastructure and refuelling costs," he said, adding the Government would continue to monitor developments and adapt to other technologies in the future.
Dr Janil said the Government will continue to review its regulations on EVs to ensure that these keep pace with industry developments.
In response to media queries on whether the use of ICE vehicles would be banned by 2040, an MOT spokesperson said it was premature to discuss such a move now.
"We will have to study it carefully, given the wide-ranging implications, and consider a whole range of strategies," said the spokesperson, adding that the ministry is starting with providing incentives for the purchase of cleaner vehicles.
SUSTAINABLE AVIATION AND MARITIME SECTORS
Meanwhile, in the aviation sector, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said that Singapore is ready to participate in the voluntary phase of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation next year, under which airlines maintain their carbon footprint at current levels by reducing emissions and purchasing carbon credits.
The country will also study the use of sustainable aviation fuels, which can reduce emissions by up to 80 per cent compared to conventional jet fuel.
Dr Lam also noted that the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will launch its Maritime Singapore Decarbonisation Blueprint 2050 next year, which will lay out plans on establishing the country as a sustainable maritime centre.
MPA and its partners will set aside S$40 million under the Maritime GreenFuture Fund to be used for the research, test-bedding, and adoption of low-carbon technologies, he added.