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Do Electric Vehicles Make Financial Sense in Singapore? Here’s How Electric, Hybrid And Petrol Cars Compare

Nicole Ng

The Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES) will come into effect this 2018, replacing the current Carbon Emissions Vehicle Scheme (CEVS). New registered cars will still be banded according to their emissions, but the VES is stricter in that it accounts for other pollutants in addition to carbon dioxide. Cleaner cars will qualify for rebates, and cars that with higher emission will incur surcharges. In doing so, the government hopes to incentivise people to buy lower emission vehicles.

The prospect of saving on fuel costs and getting rebates has Singaporeans rather optimistic about owning hybrids, PHEVs and EVs, with a 70 percent increase in petrol-electric hybrid cars in Singapore as of January this year, from 2015.

We calculated the upfront, registration and operating costs of the three types of cars (petrol, hybrids and electric vehicles) under the CEVS as well as the VES, in a bid to see which makes more financial sense.

For comparison’s sake, let’s use these popular models in Singapore to estimate how their costs compare over 10 years: the Toyota Corolla Altis 1.6, the Toyota Prius 1.8 and the Nissan Leaf Electric.

CEVS vs VES

Since car dealers have already imported the petrol cars into their inventories, petrol cars and some hybrids like the Prius are likely to be cheaper, as they will only qualify for neutral or tax rebates under the CEVS, which only lasts until the end of this year.

In addition, securing a COE by the end of this year is rather difficult, considering the traditional year-end rush to purchase cars and hike in COE premiums. Unless you manage to register your car by the end of this year, you will not be able to take advantage of the existing CEVS rebates before it gets replaced by VES.

If you register your Prius by the end of this year under the CEVS, you will get a $30,000 rebate – the highest rebate in the scheme. Under the VES, if your car is registered from 1 January 2018 onwards, you will get no rebates, as it falls into the neutral band.

The main concern here would be whether you end up receiving a rebate or paying a surcharge for your car under the VES come 2018, compared to the CEVS.

Under the VES, only electric models are likely to qualify for the top rebate of $20,000. There is, however, there is a grid emission factor (0.4g of CO2/Wh) to account for the CO2 emitted during the production of electricity used in the charging of the car.

 

Toyota Corolla Altis 1.6 Toyota Prius 1.8 Nissan Leaf Electric 24kWh
Rebates under CEVS 0 -$30,000 -$10,000
Rebates under VES 0 0 -$20,000

 

Cost

While we used the more affordable Nissan Leaf for comparison, it is to be noted that this car model is not very common. The bulk of electric cars on the roads have relatively higher price points, coming from brands such as BMW and Porsche. To add on to that, car and road taxes are calculated based on the car’s open market value, which makes electric cars even more expensive than their petrol and hybrid counterparts.

The Prius costs $25,000 more than the Altis, which would correspond to an estimated extra cost of $2,000 in interest. While the Nissan Leaf costs $119,900, it costs $99,900 with the VES rebate (effective in 2018).

 

Toyota Corolla Altis 1.6 Toyota Prius 1.8 Nissan Leaf Electric 24kWh
Cost (Source: SGCarMart) $104,988 $129,988 $119,900
Rebates under VES 0 0 -$20,000
Interest cost on car loan (60% Loan-To-Value) $14,302 $15,177 $11,559
Road tax (over 10 years) $742 x 10 years $976 x 10 years $932 x 10 years
Petrol/electricity costs (over 10 years) $1,639.26 x 10 years $989.62 x 10 years $750 x 10 years
Total Net Cost $143,102.60 $164,821.20 $128,279

Read Also: No Nonsense Explanation On Why Cars In Singapore Are So Expensive

How much you save on petrol and/or electricity

The Altis uses about 6.1 litres of petrol per 100km travelled, and the Prius uses about 3.7 litres per 100km. That means the Altis can go 896.5km on a full tank, and the Prius can travel 1,161km on a full tank.

Given that the average car in Singapore travels 16,700km a year, and petrol prices at $2 a litre and an average of 20% discounts from petrol credit cards, petrol costs will set the Altis back $1639.26, and the Prius. This also means that you get to save about $650 on petrol in a year driving the Prius instead of the Altis.

By and large, electric cars cost less to maintain than their hybrid and petrol counterparts – you only need to service the car’s tyre rotation and brake fluid. You also get to save on car maintenance costs. A fully charged Nissan Leaf can go 150km, and it costs about $5 to fully charge the car’s electric battery, which adds up to about $750 a year.

 

Toyota Corolla Altis 1.6 Toyota Prius 1.8 Nissan Leaf Electric 24kWh
Fuel Economy 16.3km/litre 27 km/litre
Energy Consumption 17.8kWh/100km (for driving in the city)
Petrol /electricity costs (in 1 year) $1,639.26 $989.62 $750

 

Other Factors

There are other costs that have yet to be accounted for, such as ERP toll charges, maintenance costs, and car insurance premiums.

Drivers may currently be reluctant to buy electric cars because of range anxiety, worrying that the electric car would run out of battery mid-commute. However, this sentiment should change as charging stations are slowly but surely proliferating throughout Singapore, with the government’s support to install 2,000 charging points for electric cars, with 400 being made available to the public.

In addition, if you use predominantly use your EV for commuting in Singapore, range anxiety should not be a problem – no matter where you are, you should not be that far from home, a charging-enabled carpark, or other charging points  across Singapore – unless of course you are planning on driving to Malaysia.

While it does seem that electric cars are more efficient and economical, there are several downsides at the moment to purchasing an electric car. There is currently a very limited range of electric cars, which come from rather luxurious brands, which affects affordability of electric cars in the market.

However, the demand for hybrids and EVs may increase significantly with the implementation of the VES, as motorists would want to avoid surcharges and qualify for rebates, wherever possible. At the same time, this may also cause an increase in prices of these vehicles, driving up the cost of owning a hybrid or an EV.

Read Also: How Much Should You Earn In Singapore Before You Think About Buying A Car

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