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​Electric dreams; 2 in 5 motorists open to hybrid vehicles: Poll

Published on: 01-Mar-2020

​Most motorists are not ready to embrace fully electric cars, but more than two in five are willing to givehybrids a go, according to an informal poll that garnered some 1,000 responses.

The online survey, done by The Sunday Times, lined up three compact sport utility vehicles (currently the most popular genre) of a similar size and price and asked respondents to pick their choice if they were to buy a car.

To help respondents, the total annual ownership cost of each car was calculated.

It took into account purchase price, interest charges, residual value at end of 10 years, road tax, insurance, maintenance, fuel/energy as well as other non-variables such as parking and Electronic Road Pricing charges.

The calculations were based on recently announced changes, but did not include unknowns such as possible revisions to the Vehicular Emissions Scheme. Real car models were used to reflect the actual availability of cars here, to avoid hypothetical scenarios.

Among 1,001 votes cast, 42.1 per cent were for the Kia Niro Hybrid, 37.5 per cent for the petrol-powered Mazda CX-30 and 20.5 per cent for the MG ZS electric vehicle (EV).

While only one in five would be willing to give a full-electric car like the MG a shot, nearly two in three are open to electrified mobility, even if partially.

This bodes well for Singapore's ambition to phase out vehicles which are powered entirely by combustion engines by 2040.

Respondents cite cost as one major reason for their reluctance to plug in, along with the lack of charging infrastructure.

Social media manager Lester Kok, 36, who picked the petrol-driven Mazda, says: "I did consider the EV, but the cost of battery replacement and the lack of charging stations made me change my mind."

EVs and hybrids come with a battery warranty, which is usually pegged to age and mileage clocked. Often, the warranty also allows for a certain degree of battery degradation.

Mr Kok, who drives a Mazda 6 sedan, says that he factors in ease of maintenance in his car-buying decisions, too.

"For hybrids, you have to maintain the petrol engine, as well as the electric system - it's like maintaining two cars in one," he says. "There are also not many workshops which can do both."

Business consultant Anthony Leong, 68, says that EV technology is still not mature enough for him to consider switching.

The Mazda 3 owner adds: "In terms of technology, I believe EVs will improve, in terms of charging, range and reliability. 
"Going by announcements by various cities around the world that they will ban combustion engines by 2030 to 2040, I expect this improvement to happen in 10 years' time."

Nanyang Business School Adjunct Associate Professor Zafar Momin says the survey results indicate that a majority of Singaporeans value total cost of ownership over electrification consideration in their choice of a car.

EVs WILL BECOME BETTER

In terms of technology, I believe electric vehicles (EVs) will improve, in terms of charging, range and reliability. Going by announcements by various cities around the world that they will ban combustion engines by 2030 to 2040, I expect this improvement to happen in 10 years' time.

BUSINESS CONSULTANT ANTHONY LEONG, a Mazda 3 owner.

"Not surprising, as economics of car ownership is typically the main criteria for most buyers," he adds.

But he notes that the survey may have a built-in bias because it offers choices of well-known brands, such as Kia and Mazda, versus a lesser-known brand such as MG.

"Therefore, some respondents may not have chosen an EV option due to less familiarity with MG," he says, adding that ideally, an EV from a better known brand - if available - would have been preferable.

Indeed, businesswoman Kua Hwee Cheng, who drives a Toyota Alphard multi-purpose vehicle, says that she would have bought an electric car if there were more choices, and if there was a model big enough for her family. 

Source: The Straits Times, 1 March 2020 


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