Top of main content

Are electric vehicles worth it?

Looking for a more sustainable way to get around? Making the change to an electric vehicle (EV) could be the answer.

You'll not only save money on fuel, but also reduce the impact on the environment.

In this guide, we explain what electric vehicles are, how they help the environment, and sum up their pros and cons. 

What are electric vehicles and how do they work?

Electric vehicles are fairly self-descriptive – they’re vehicles that run on electricity.

As they become more popular, the range of choice for EV cars is growing and they’re becoming more financially accessible. More manufacturers are developing more EV models – from 100% electric vehicles (known as pure electric vehicles) to hybrids.

Pure electric vehicles

100% electric vehicles are solely powered by rechargeable batteries.

Like a laptop or mobile phone, you plug in it in and wait for it to charge. When charged, the batteries power the engine and get you moving.

While it takes longer to charge an EV’s batteries than it does to fill up with petrol or diesel, some people charge their vehicles overnight so they’re ready for the next day. You can keep your EV topped up whenever you’re not using it, as long as you’re parked near a charging point.

As part of its Singapore Green Plan 2030, and to support EV drivers, the government is planning to install 40,000 charging points in public car parks and 20,000 charging points in private premises by 2025. They also plan for every Housing and Development Board (HDB) town to be ‘EV-Ready’ by 2025, with approximately 2,000 carparks to be equipped before then[@power-every-move].

With most EVs able to cover at least 300km in one go, Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) estimates you should be able to drive for about 5 days on one charge[@8-facts-to-charge-up-your-knowledge-about-electric-vehicles].

Hybrid vehicles

Hybrid vehicles use a combination of fuel sources to power the engine – typically a battery powered motor and a petrol or diesel engine.

The different types of hybrid cars include:

  • full hybrids, which use an electric motor and a combustion engine separately or at the same time
  • mild hybrids, which use an electric motor and combustion engine at the same time
  • plug-in hybrids, which can be plugged in to charge the electric batteries

Hybrids can serve as a good middle-point for transitioning to an electric vehicle. They generally consume less fuel and emit less CO2 than petrol and diesel cars, but can be slightly cheaper than fully electric vehicles depending on the make and model.

The government will require all new car registrations to be cleaner-energy models – electric, hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell – by 2030 and aims to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles completely by 2040[@power-every-move].

What are the benefits of an electric vehicle?

Besides being better for the environment, there are many advantages to owning an EV.

Sustainable driving

On average, an EV emits 50% of the CO2 a similar vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine does. And if all of Singapore’s light vehicles were electric, it would reduce the nation’s total carbon emissions by 4%[@power-every-move].

So, whether you’re commuting to work or driving off for a holiday, you can take comfort knowing your vehicle is better for the planet.

Travel in comfort

As electric motors are simpler than combustion engines, EVs can feel quicker to accelerate and lighter to drive.

They’re also a lot quieter than traditional engines – you’ll be able to hear your podcasts in the car with perfect clarity.

Cheaper to run

Due to having fewer mechanical components and parts than petrol and diesel cars, EVs often have lower servicing and maintenance costs.

And depending on how much driving you do, your savings on fuel could really add up too. That’s before you factor in any snacks you’re tempted into buying at petrol station checkouts.

Government incentives

To help make owning and using an electric car more attractive, the government offers incentives such as the EV Early Adoption Incentive (EEAI) and Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES) that lower the upfront cost of electric cars by up to SGD45,000[@power-every-move].

These include road tax reductions, rebates for purchases, and Additional Registration Fee (ARF) discounts for EVs. When paying for or renewing your road tax fees, you can go to a Road Tax Collection Centre. You can also use your credit card to pay online for or renew your road taxes.

The LTA website has more details on the cleaner-energy vehicle incentives.

Things to think about

Here are a few things that aren’t necessarily disadvantages of EVs, but differences from petrol or diesel cars that you should keep in mind.

Recharge time

While you can fill up a petrol or diesel tank in a few minutes, charging electric car batteries takes longer.

Some rapid charging points can top you up in under an hour, and you have the added convenience of being able to leave your vehicle while it charges.

How quickly your vehicle charges will depend on:

  • the power source you’re using (measured in kW)
  • the size of your batteries (measured in kWh)
  • the kW limit of your vehicle’s on-board charger

Finding a charging point

While one charge goes a long way, you’ll want to feel secure that you’re able to charge up if you need to on a long journey.

This is where the government’s commitment to install more charging points across the island will help give peace of mind.

And the LTA's mobile app, MyTransport.SG, can help you find the nearest charging point.

There are even mobile charging services, such as Power Up Tech, that bring portable power to your vehicle in case you can’t get to a charging point.

EV batteries

There have been some concerns about the environmental implications of disposing electric batteries after use.

While EV batteries have the potential for a ‘second life’ for things like home energy storage and grid level storage due to their size, there are also regulations in place to ensure companies importing or manufacturing EV batteries will be responsible for collecting and recycling them at the end of their lives[@nea].

Initial cost

While the long-term savings of EVs through cheaper fuel and government incentives are there, they usually cost more upfront compared to diesel and petrol cars.

The good news is that, as they grow in popularity due to consumer demand and government regulation on non-EV vehicles, more affordable options are expected to come onto the market.

Other sustainable travel options

If you’re not quite ready to make the switch to an electric car, here are some other ways to reduce your carbon footprint compared to driving a petrol or diesel vehicle. Why not:

  • take an electric bus and reduce your carbon emissions by 70%
  • take the MRT and reduce your emissions by close to 90%
  • cycle or walk because it's practically carbon-free transport![@8-facts-to-charge-up-your-knowledge-about-electric-vehicles]

You might also be interested in

Here's how innovation and energy efficiency can reduce major sources of CO2 emissions.
Our guide to sustainable living – 6 ways to save money and keep the planet healthy.
Learn how to use less energy at home to reduce your bills and help the environment.