Singapore is all set to launch a big-scale car-sharing scheme for the first time in August which will bring 1,000 French-made battery-powered hatchbacks on the roads for commuters. Moreover, unlike some tax-exempt electric taxis with research plates, these new cars will have normal-plated cars with full taxes.
The scheme will be launched by Blue Solutions, which already runs a similar scheme in Paris, and it will be one of its kinds in the Lion City. The company's managing director (Asia and Middle East) Franck Vitte said that a soft launch of the phone apps-based car-sharing programme will take place sometime in August, reported the Straits Times.
According to reports, the scheme will start with 10 to 20 cars in five to 10 locations and will slowly expand. Franck is expecting to have at least 1,000 cars across 500 locations in four years' time. He is also planning to set up four parking spaces with chargers in each location.
Meanwhile, the cars are two-door, four-seater hatchbacks with lithium-metal-polymer batteries and will have a range of 250km approximately. The usage charges are expected to start from "a few dollars" for the first 15 minutes, followed by per-minute charges- expenditure slightly lower than taxi fares. However, frequent users will get concessions.
Franck is very confident that the scheme will be a success in the southeast Asian nation. "There are 1.7 million driving licence holders here and around 500,000 private passenger cars...So there is a potential of 1.2 million users. And Singapore has a much higher population density than Paris," he said, according to reports.
While comparing the new scheme with the existing one in Paris, the managing director said that Singapore will have a similar usage frequency like Paris, only that it will be more feasible commercially. "In Paris, we have no control over how much we charge, or our location. So, often we had to set up in low-density areas, or areas with a high crime rate, and our cars were sometimes vandalised or burnt," he said. Singapore cars will also carry advertisements which will bring down the running costs such as parking, he added.
However, not everyone is having such a positive approach. Though the cars are having an open market value of $20,000 and are costing less than $100,000 on the road, National University of Singapore Business School assistant professor, Yang Nan, is questioning the scheme's viability. "Given that the on-demand transit industry is flourishing, and that taxis are widely and inexpensively available, its market niche is very small," he said, adding that "balancing the fleet and maintaining availability across locations will be challenging and expensive," said Yang, according to reports.