Singapore Reaching For a Promising Route to Transportation by 2040

This island nation is looking ahead to a new world of travel in the next 20 years.

Apr 28, 2020

The Singaporean government recently announced innovative measures to incentivize its citizens to drive eco-friendly electric vehicles (EVs). Its ambitious bid to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, however. Singapore embarked on a sustainability journey in the 1960s, and has remained at the forefront of green initiatives since.

This green drive is partly fueled by the country’s vulnerability to climate change. The very existence of the island nation is threatened by rising sea levels, so its newest aim to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by the year 2040 in order to cut greenhouse gases is a timely plan.  

Electric cars are automobiles propelled by one or more electric motors that use energy stored in rechargeable batteries. Currently, there are relatively few electrical vehicles on the roads, but the goal is to replace cars that run on fuel with electric cars. In doing so, Singapore is promoting cleaner energy as Norway, Britain and other environmentally-conscious countries have been doing.

Britain, for example, intends to begin banning internal combustion cars starting from 2035. An unintended consequence of this may actually be an increase in the purchase of combustion engine vehicles, since the proposed ban will drive prices down in the years leading up to 2035. Singapore, though, is aiming to sidestep this pitfall by dramatically reducing the use of vehicles with combustion engines too.

And, as local newspaper, the Straits Times reports, this Southeast Asian country is laying on some appealing incentives! From 2021 to 2030, Singapore will make the prospect of buying electric vehicles more appealing in multiple ways. Firstly, a Vehicular Emissions Scheme will award tax rebates on the basis of a vehicle's emission levels. Then, an early-adoption incentive scheme will reward those buying greener vehicles. Meanwhile, there’s a  forgiving revision of the road tax for electric vehicles, and a significantly expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure on the way. 

A lingering challenge is the cost to local consumers. Most locals do not own cars as the country is one of the most expensive places in the world to buy a car. This is partly due to mandatory levies created in 2017 that aim to regulate the number of vehicles on the roads. Moreover, before Singaporean citizens can purchase a car, they have to bid for a Certificate of Entitlement (CEO). This is a permit granting the legal right of the holder to register, own and use a vehicle in Singapore for a period of ten years.

Today, this extravagant commodity has become a status symbol. Electric cars are still more expensive than combustion engine vehicles, although cheaper to maintain. Yet despite the relatively low level of vehicles per capita, there are still nearly one million vehicles on Singapore’s roads, so there’s hope that banning petrol and diesel vehicles will lead to positive environmental benefits.  

Singapore aims to be the first country in Southeast Asia to eliminate the use of petrol and diesel vehicles, boldly joining the global fight to phase out fossil fuel vehicles. Tesla CEO Elon Musk once criticized Singapore for not supporting electric vehicles. We are sure he will be pleased to take back his words now!

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DAWN SCHUSTER, CONTRIBUTOR
Dawn is a writer, graphic designer & the owner of a fair trade clothing company that works with vulnerable women. Her dream is to empower women through ethical fashion & to connect women across the world. A true free spirit she has lived in England, Israel, Kenya & India.