Mar 26, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
When people write to ask how they can help, we often suggest they contact their local media. This result is from by Jim Simon, the director of marketing, Asia-Pacific for a US high-tech firm. His letter appeared in the business section of the Singapore Straights Times. It's followed by his description of how "car-sharing" (like Zipcar, Flexcar, San Francisco City Carshare) work in Singapore.
S'pore ready for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles? http://www.straitstimes.com/portal/site/STI/menuitem.c2aef3d65baca16abb31f610a06310a0/?vgnextoid=7532758920e39010VgnVCM1000000a35010aRCRD&vgnextfmt=vgnartid:f44e8d8668981110VgnVCM100000430a0a0aRCRDhttp://www.straitstimes.com/portal/site/STI/menuitem.c2aef3d65baca16abb31f610a06310a0/?vgnextoid=7532758920e39010VgnVCM1000000a35010aRCRD&vgnextfmt=vgnartid:f44e8d8668981110VgnVCM100000430a0a0aRCRD March 26, 2007
IN THE United States media there is a lot of talk about the potential of plug-in hybrid electric cars (PHEVs), which are slated to hit the market in 2009.
President George W. Bush inspected some prototypes at the White House last month, and General Motors and Toyota have both promised to be the first to market their PHEVs.
PHEVs offer three benefits over standard cars and even hybrids like the Toyota Prius:
They get significantly better mileage: Estimates range from 40 to 60km per litre.
In all-electric mode such as in city driving, they emit nearly zero exhaust fumes, making them a highly 'green' car and they run almost silently.
They have a range of about 70km on electric power before tapping their onboard petrol tank, which means many city drivers will rarely, if ever, have to fill up at a petrol station. (The total range using electricity and petrol is about 1,000km.)
These hybrids run completely on battery for the first 70km before a small gas engine begins to recharge the battery. US studies estimate that most of the US population could run 100 per cent on battery power from a six-hour nightly charge because people's daily commute is less than 70km.
Running on electricity is significantly less expensive than petrol, more eco-friendly - even after power plants are taken into consideration, quieter, and it reduces dependence on so-called 'unstable' oil-producing regions.
With Singapore's goal of generating power from solar energy, it may one day be possible for Singaporeans to completely recharge their vehicles using solar power.
All that is required is a standard electric socket to plug into each night.
In the US, almost every home with a garage has such a socket.
In Singapore, that is often true of landed property, but not necessarily in shared parking areas such as HDB estates and condominiums.
Would owners of these dwellings be willing to add electrical sockets? How would they charge for electricity? Perhaps via higher residents association fees or a customised CashCard meter?
Maybe shopping malls could offer a free charge as a lure to get shoppers to visit? How about office buildings?
Toyota and GM, among other car makers, are committed to launching PHEVs by 2009. Singapore seems the perfect place for PHEVs, considering its goals of being green and energy-independent, plus the fact that most people commute less than 70km a day.
However, unlike in other countries, will enough car owners in Singapore have access to a nightly electric socket?
I personally cannot wait to take the next step: graduating from a Honda Civic Hybrid to a future plug-in electric hybrid.
>If you are not familiar with Singapore it is a city-state of 4 >million people located between Malaysia and Indonesia. Because >Singapore is a small island and imports all of its oil the >government encourages residents and visitors to use public >transportation through extensive taxing of automobiles (more than >100% the base cost). The Singapore government prides itself on >developing the city-state into a world leader of high-technology. > >My wife and I are afforded a car under our expatriate work agreement >but we declined it. Instead, on occasions when we do not want to >take the subway or bus systems we rent a Honda Civic Hybrid directly >from Honda. Honda has about 20 locations stocked with cars >including one walking distance from our apartment. We simply SMS >Honda and they reply with the exact inventory at all >locations. When we approach a car we flash our Honda identification >card at the windshield and the doors to the car open. We then enter >a PIN on a dashboard screen and off we drive. The cost is >calculated by distance and time. At the conclusion of our journey >the cost is charged automatically to our Mastercard. The overall >cost is similar to a taxi (inclusive of all costs such as fuel and insurance).