As Singapore aims to stop the purchase of combustion-engine cars by 2030, the city-state faces a challenge from its entrenched love of supercars, ultra-luxury rides, and buyers with high incomes. Despite being an electric-vehicle evangelist and owning two Teslas, Singaporean chip designer Eu Gene Goh is not yet ready to give up his S$1.6-million ($1.21 million) McLaren 765LT with a V8 engine that can hit 100 km per hour (62 miles per hour) in three seconds.
EV Uptake in Singapore
While Singapore’s target of phasing out combustion car sales by 2030 puts it in a small group of countries with that near-term goal, including Iceland, Sweden, and the Netherlands, sales of electric cars in those markets have picked up faster. The Singapore government has been pushing electric vehicles (EVs) for two years, offering incentives of up to S$45,000 and expanding the charging network. However, individual take-up will need to accelerate vastly to hit the target, as EVs made up almost 12% of all car sales in Singapore last year, up from almost 4% in 2021, according to the Land Transport Authority. Still, EVs represented only 1% of cars on the road.
Luxury and Performance Cars in Singapore
Luxury and performance cars are a significant factor in Singapore’s car market, where it costs at least S$88,000 for the right to own a small car for a decade, excluding the vehicle’s cost in Singapore. Over the past decade, the number of Ferraris in Singapore has grown by 67%, Lamborghinis by 38%, and McLarens by more than five-fold to 180 since 2012. The number of Porsches on the road is almost five times more than Teslas. This preference for luxury and performance cars is due to rising wealth among a cohort of residents while lower-income people are priced out of car ownership, according to Singapore-based transport economist Walter Theseira.
EV Showcase in Singapore
As more premium EV models like Audi’s Q8 e-tron and Q4 e-tron hit the market, Markus Schuster, managing director at Audi Singapore, believes that EVs will constitute the majority of new car sales in Singapore as early as 2025 or 2026. The city’s average daily driving distance of 30 km also means that Singaporean drivers do not have the same range anxiety as drivers in the U.S. and Europe. The government plans to build 60,000 charging points by 2030, up from 1,600 now, which Schuster believes will be a tipping point to achieve the 2030 target.
The challenge for Singapore’s push for an all-electric future is its love for luxury and performance cars. While EVs have made some inroads in the car market, combustion sports cars still make up a significant portion of registered vehicles. However, Singapore’s small size and relatively short daily driving distance present an opportunity to showcase EVs as a viable alternative. With the government’s plan to expand the charging network significantly and the introduction of premium EV models, Singapore may yet achieve its goal of phasing out combustion car sales by 2030.