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What it takes to drive a luxury electric vehicle

Making the switch from a petrol guzzler to a battery-powered engine takes away the fat from cost, but it is not a straightforward decision to make.

How much petrol a car guzzles is a key consideration when it comes to purchasing a car. An electric vehicle (EV) eliminates this and an increasing number of car dealers in Singapore are offering it alongside their combustion engine and hybrid models. On their part, consumers are warming up to EVs. Data from the Land Transport Authority shows that there was one EV passenger car on Singapore roads in 2015 and 12 the following year. The number jumped exponentially to 314 in 2017 and 560 at the end of last year.

EVs are currently available from six marques and the luxury segment includes Tesla, Jaguar and BMW. Porsche is expected to roll out its version, the Taycan, by early 2020.

But making the switch is far from a straightforward decision. Singapore’s transport infrastructure, especially refuelling, is configured to support the more than 900,000 combustion engine vehicles of all types, from passenger cars and motorcycles to large trucks and buses. Here’s what’s in store for early adopters of luxury EVs.

  • The Jaguar i-pace.

Power to the battery

Filling up a typical 3.8 litre, 500bhp car with petrol costs an average of $170 for a full tank that powers the vehicle for about 330km. In Singapore, this is about a week’s worth of driving, resulting in about $8,840 spent on fuel a year.

In contrast, an EV such as the 762bhp Tesla Model S, costs about $20 to fully charge from a power supply at home or at any battery charging station. And it is good for about 420km. The Jaguar I-Pace goes slightly further to 470km, while the BMW i3 delivers 260km on a single charge.

(Related: 5 future car technologies that will be commonplace within a decade)

Hassle-free maintenance

There are over 2,000 parts in petrol-driven cars and the maintenance bill can be hefty for a luxury class vehicle. The EV, on the other hand, has only about 200 parts and usually cost between $200 and $300 to service.

The Tesla S2 at a charging station.

The Tesla S2 at a charging station.

Charging stations

As it stands, it is more convenient for those staying in landed properties to own an EV. Each vehicle comes with a battery charger that can be plugged into a home’s electricity supply, allowing owners to fully charge the car for up to three hours, depending on the EV model.

Resident of high-rise condominiums are largely dependent on public charging stations. The time taken to complete the task varies and can take up to eight hours from a 7.4kw station and within an hour from a 50kw rapid charger.

There are currently less than 200 charging points around the island that SP Group, EV charging software and solutions provider Greenlots and car sharing company BlueSG separately run. More will open up within two years, with SP Group set to have about 1,000 points in total.

Rates range from 40 to 47.3 cents per kWh for SP Group and Greenlot stations to $1 per hour for the first three hours and then $2 every half hour at BlueSG’s.

(Related: Car review: Jaguar I-Pace, the best electric SUV on the market?)

Road Tax

EVs currently enjoy a $20,000 rebate against ARF or Additional Registration Fees, but the road tax structure for them does not reflect their environment-friendly nature. The rate for the Jaguar I-Pace, for example, is currently $5,802, whereas an equivalent petrol engine car’s road tax is about $4,376.

Moving forward, driving an EV can only get better, as infrastructure to support these vehicles and battery technology improves. The industry is till in its early days because carmakers are still working to improve quality and reduce costs.

The price of the Tesla S starts from $410,800; Tesla X, from $440,800; and Tesla 3 from $234,800. The Jaguar i-pace is estimated to cost $314,000; the BMW i3, $166,000 and BMW i3s, $158,000. All prices exclude COE.

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