Singapore: Taxi operators ramp up electrification of fleets

The country’s largest taxi operator, ComfortDelGro Taxi, on Jan. 5 said it will put up to 400 fully electric taxis on the roads this year, in the first large-scale electric taxi roll-out the company has embarked on in Singapore.

It is a major step up from its current electric taxi population, which consists of just four trial cabs, with the first trial in 2018 paving the way for the major announcement on Jan. 5.

Its chief executive Jackson Chia told The Straits Times that ComfortDelGro Taxi will have up to 1,000 fully electric taxis plying the roads by 2023, as “we are confident the time is now right to start the ramp-up of our EV [electric vehicle] fleet.”

This means that about 10% of ComfortDelGro Taxi’s 10,000 taxis in Singapore will be fully electric by 2023. Another 70% will be hybrid cabs, which the company has in recent years been buying in bulk to transition to a more environmentally sustainable mode of operation.

Mr. Chia told ST: “We have been closely monitoring the evolution and advancement of EV technology and vehicles. One major concern has been the lack of infrastructure necessary to ensure the successful roll-out of an EV taxi fleet.

“As Singapore’s largest taxi operator, we have a duty to our drivers to ensure we introduce new models that are not only comfortable and safe to drive but also easy to operate and maintain.”

Electric vehicles release less pollutants into the air and are cheaper to charge, with the cost of a full electric charge just one-third that of an equivalent amount of diesel.

But a shortage of EV chargers has long been cited as a limiting factor for the growth of EVs, and ComfortDelGro said that depending on the EV charger roll-out, figures this year might fall short of the 400 e-taxis and be somewhere between 300 and 400 instead.

The third-largest player, SMRT’s Strides Taxi, began operating its first batch of 300 China-made electric taxis last year, offering free rental and unlimited charging for the first 30 days for early-adopter drivers.

It has said it plans to fully electrify its taxi fleet by 2026, although its fleet is much smaller, at around 1,780 vehicles.

Second-largest operator Trans-Cab has not made its electric taxi plans known.

ComfortDelGro already operates fully electric vehicle taxis elsewhere.

In China, it has 2,200 fully electric taxis in its fleet in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Nanjing and Suzhou.

The subsidiaries of ComfortDelGro in Australia and Britain also operate hybrid and electric buses, which it also does in Singapore.

As of now, it said it has four electric vehicle charging stations on its premises. This will be increased to 20 by the year end.

Together with French energy giant Engie, it is also in the process of installing and operating nearly 500 electric vehicle chargers at 155 public carparks islandwide, as part of the Government’s efforts to engage private companies to boost electric vehicle chargers.