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Singapore

Parliament passes Bill to regulate safety, reliability, accessibility of electric vehicle network

More than 10 MPs spoke on issues ranging from the affordability of EVs to inadvertent fires caused by charging.

04:27 Min
Parliament on Wednesday (Nov 30) passed legislation to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in Singapore amid a rise in registrations. Cherie Lok with more. 

SINGAPORE: Parliament on Wednesday (Nov 30) passed legislation to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in Singapore amid a rise in registrations.

More than 10 per cent of new light vehicle registrations were EVs this year, up from 0.3 per cent in 2020. Half of all EVs were registered to condominium and Housing Board (HDB) residents, said Transport Minister S Iswaran. 

In his opening speech on an Electric Vehicles Charging Bill, Mr Iswaran said the land transport sector, which accounts for about 15 per cent of emissions, will play a key role in achieving Singapore’s aim of net-zero emissions by 2050 through the electrification of the vehicle population.  

When made into law, the Bill will serve three objectives: Regulate the safe charging of EVs, ensure reliability of the EV charging network and services, as well as promote the accessibility of the EV charging network in Singapore. 

It will also provide the Land Transport Authority (LTA) with new statutory powers for enforcement.

WHAT THE BILL COVERS 

Regulating the safe use of EV chargers includes that of “the supply, advertisement, installation, registration, maintenance, and use of EV chargers, both portable and fixed, including battery charge and swap stations, and pantograph chargers”, said Mr Iswaran.

The Bill also provides safeguards against unsafe charging. For example, EV chargers capable of charging detachable EV batteries will not be allowed in residences because of the risk of battery fires, the minister added.  

“Also, a manufacturer or supplier, who knows of a safety defect in the charger or charger model it has supplied, must inform persons with charge and control of such chargers on how to rectify the defect, and subsequently report to LTA upon the completion of rectification work.”

To ensure reliability of EV charging services, the Bill introduces a licensing regime for providers or charging station operators.

Services provided will include hiring of fixed EV chargers, EV battery swapping and renting of portable EV chargers. The licence, which will be valid for three years, is renewable.  

This regime will only cover EV charging operators that provide charging services to the public, but coverage can be expanded in the future, added Mr Iswaran. 

Finally, to make the EV charging network more accessible, developers must install electrical infrastructure that supports at least 1.3kVA of power for every parking lot. They must also install a minimum number of charging points which would draw at least one-fifth of that amount of power.

This provides developers the “flexibility to deploy a mix of charging points with different power ratings at more or fewer lots, depending on the needs of users”, said Mr Iswaran. 

In a public consultation exercise conducted by the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and LTA earlier this year, industry respondents recognised the need for a licensing regime for EV charging operators to maintain standards, but requested that compliance costs be kept low, said the minister. 

MOT and LTA “will work with the industry to ensure this, even as we design an effective licensing regime”, he added.

LTA recently awarded a tender to deploy an additional 12,000 charging points across all HDB car parks by end-2025, in line with the Government’s plan to deploy 60,000 charging points across Singapore by 2030. 

AFFORDABILITY AND FIRE SAFETY  

More than 10 Members of Parliament spoke on the Bill on Wednesday, raising concerns ranging from EV affordability to inadvertent fires caused by EV charging - while expressing support for the legislation.  

On the issue of potential consumers being deterred by the cost of owning an EV, Associate Professor Jamus Lim (WP-Sengkang) suggested “temporary incentives” that would favour a switch to EVs, such as a 10 per cent discount on the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) face value for EV permits.

Mr Ang Wei Neng (PAP-West Coast) similarly suggested the Government consider providing EV buyers a 10 per cent discount on Category A of COE as part of an early adopter scheme.

He pointed to the high EV adoption rate in Norway, where EV drivers use toll roads for free, enjoy free parking and are exempt from the country’s high purchase taxes. 

Mr Don Wee (PAP-Choa Chu Kang) also asked whether the Government would consider rebates or incentives such as waivers of Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) and road tax, to attract potential EV buyers. 

In his closing speech, Mr Iswaran acknowledged that “no conversation on the vehicle system is complete without a discussion on COEs”.

“The core objective of the COE system is to limit our vehicle population – we have said that the vehicle population growth will be zero – and to have an efficient mechanism to allocate the quota. This is the case for all vehicles, and an electric vehicle is a vehicle,” he said.  

“It is not also good policy to foist too many objectives on a single policy tool. So I would argue for members’ consideration that to use the COE for multiple objectives is not an appropriate or suitable policy formulation.” 

Mr Iswaran added that the Government “directly incentivises the adoption of the kinds of vehicles that we would like to promote through other policy tools”. For instance, the EV Early Adoption Incentive and the enhanced Vehicular Emissions Scheme together provide a combined rebate of up to S$45,000 off the upfront cost of an electric car. 

“There was a suggestion that maybe we give a 10 per cent discount. Even in today’s COE prices, S$45,000 is significantly higher than that, in terms of upfront costs,” he said. 

Towards the end of his speech, Mr Iswaran added that there were different elements in EV costs, from ownership to operating and maintenance, all of which consumers should have greater awareness of before making a choice. 

Responding to MPs' concerns on fire safety, Mr Iswaran agreed that this was a “paramount consideration”. 

“LTA worked with the Singapore Civil Defence Force to update the fire code last year to enhance the fire safety requirements for buildings that install EV chargers. Under the revised fire code, EV chargers must have an isolation switch to cut off the electricity supply to the EV charger to facilitate emergency response,” he told the House. 

“This is in addition to other charger design requirements in the TR 25 (Technical Reference 25), such as electrical circuit breakers that minimise the risk of electrocution and electrical fires, including in the event of flooding.” 

Mr Iswaran later pointed out that accessibility within the EV network goes beyond physical infrastructure and includes user experience. 

“LTA’s MyTransport app allows EV users to locate and access public charging points offered by various EV Charging Operators. LTA has just launched a beta function displaying real-time charging availability on the app, which more operators will contribute to over time,” he shared. 

“LTA is also working with third party platform providers to allow more EV users to access charger information on their platform of choice, including information on real time availability.” 

Mr Iswaran concluded his speech by reiterating that Singapore’s vision was “to have a vehicle population that is electric, but that will require the collective effort of government, industry, unions and consumers”. 

“The Electric Vehicles Charging Bill represents a first, but major step in our journey to get there," he said.

Source: CNA/gy(jo)

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