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The BMW i3

How does the BMW i3 fare on Singapore roads?

Going by the prices of electric vehicles (EVs) around the world, it’s hardly a cheap endeavour to save the earth.

Needless to say, the situation is exacerbated by the high tariffs in Singapore, making these green-wheels a luxury product. Take the BMW i3 for example. It will set anyone with tree-hugging ambitions back by well over $200,000.

But owning an EV is not just about making a statement these days, it seems, according to at least one expert.

“Electric vehicles today offer a dynamic driving experience and high levels of comfort,” said professor Harry Hoster of Singapore-based research centre TUM CREATE. “In Singapore’s context, electric vehicles also have a prestige status.”

This is especially true for the i3 that has been designed from the ground up to offer a lightweight, yet structurally stiff, chassis that is able to check both the dynamic and efficiency boxes. What’s more, the futuristic car sports a luxury interior that is made from recycled plastic bottles and sustainable wood panelling.

Apart from allowing you to enjoy the experience, cars like the BMW i3 also benefit your immediate environment. Prof Hoster adds that EVs can lead to improved health conditions, especially for children – as the concentration of tailpipe fumes is “highest closer to the ground”.

While BMW boasts that the i3 can cover between 130km and 160km on each charge, The Peak was able to achieve 120km on a single charge – a good result considering that the car was driven briskly, with air-conditioning set at a comfortable 23 deg C.

But just how effective are EVs in reducing greenhouse gases? It would take a huge concerted effort: Compared with a similar sized vehicle, the zero-emissions BMW i3 saves 115g of carbon dioxide per kilometre travelled. Prof Hoster notes that if all passenger cars in Singapore were swopped for EVs, it would help reduce carbon emissions on the roads by a whopping 1.4 million tonnes per year.

The cynics would probably ask if our electric grid is capable of supporting such a drastic change. Interestingly, up to 800,000 EVs can be charged simultaneously without affecting the electric grid – well over the passenger vehicle population on the island.