Sunday, November 16, 2008

Singapore and Project Better Place

I have been closely following Project Better Place lately (I mean for almost a year now :) !!). So what is Better Place? According to them - "Better Place is working to build an electric car network, using technology available today. Our goals? Sustainable transportation global energy independence and freedom from oil".

Sounds ambitious doesn't it? Well it sure is. But sometimes it takes more than guts to get things right, and somehow I feel this is the right time to venture into such risky projects. Only time will tell how their vision works out, but I sure wish that it turns out to be a big success! Also with some very solid partnerships (e.g. Renault-Nissan are building cars for Better Place) and some very novel ideas (the rechargeable batteries can be automatically swapped at their battery exchange stations to be spread out all around the country like gas stations today!) coupled with a novel business plan (pay for the service not for the car! If my understanding of the business model is correct, they are going to give the cars for (near) free and will charge for the service (number of miles driven?)) and the cost of charging the car at the charge spots) this project is surely a poster boy of innovative thinking.

After having lived in Singapore for about 4 months now and having spent a lot of time on the Singapore statistics and the Land Transport Authority of Singapore web sites, I feel .. Singapore is a viable place to have the electric car network that Project Better place is talking about.

First things first. Singapore is a small country (4.8 Million population - 2008) and total road lengths as given below:

  • Total length of expressways: 150 km
  • Total length of major arterial roads: 604 km
  • Total length of collector roads: 468 km
  • Total length of local access roads: 2040 km
  • Total road length: 3262 km

The number of cars in this country are less than 515,000. That works out to less than 9 cars per 100 people. Singapore always has had the policy to restrict the number of cars on the island by means of the COE system. Couple this with the fact that the average journey distance for a car in Singapore is only 9.6 km and electric cars can go a distance of more than 120 km on a single charge this country is the hotbed to try out innovation in electric car technology.

Finally, Better Place is trying to have the recharging stations powered by renewable energy. Singapore being a tropical country, has an average of 6 hours of bright sunshine everyday. A viable option for setting up solar panels to supply electricity for the charging stations! I wonder, as I am writing this article, if there are talks already going on between the Singapore government and Project Better Place :) !!

And why am I making you, my reader, go through all this? Well, I felt I needed to talk to someone about this, and like always I figured I can blabber only to all of you ;) !! Thank you for your patience :)


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  2. Accidentally, I saw a documentary on electric cars on the very same day I read this blog. Oh boy! it is so tragic to know that such dream Electric Vehicles were running on the Californian roads just a decade back.