guides & articles

Related listings

Latest Postings

Subscribe to the hottest news, latest promotions & discounts from STClassifieds & our partners

I agree to abide by STClassifieds Terms and Conditions

Gadgets & Home Improvement

150 plugged in to electric car-sharing scheme

Most of those sharing six cars live or work in Buona Vista-Ayer Rajah area.
January 9, 2013
By: Christopher Tan Senior Correspondent
| More
150 plugged in to electric car-sharing scheme Clean Mobility’s Mr Lokenvitz in a Mitsubishi i-MiEV, with happy clients Zhang Wei Liang and Sandy Cheah. He started the electric car-sharing scheme in November 2011 with one car and has since added five more. Mr Zhang and Ms Cheah say they have had no

MORE than 150 people have plugged in to a year-old electric car-sharing scheme - the first of its kind here.

Mr Tom Lokenvitz, founder and director of Clean Mobility, said most of those who signed up to share the six battery-powered Mitsubishi i-MiEV hatchbacks live or work near the Buona Vista-Ayer Rajah area.

The electric car-sharing scheme - operated under the brand name Smove - has designated parking lots in Pixel Building, Biopolis, Fusionopolis, the Insead campus and Block 71 Ayer Rajah Crescent.

Members pay a one-time $19 registration fee. They book the cars online, unlock the vehicles with their ez-link transit cards, and drive off. They are charged 39 cents per minute of driving, 19 cents/minute when parked, with a cap of $75 per 24-hour period.

Charges are calculated by a hardware installed in the car; and users are billed monthly.

"We also have people from further away… but our current position is that if you live around One-North or Buona Vista, you don't need to own a car," Mr Lokenvitz said.

The 35-year-old German started Smove in November 2011 with one car. About six months ago, he added five more. Smove also has 30 electric bicycles for sharing.

Despite the small fleet of cars, he said regular users - who make up about one-third of members - have had no problem getting a car when they need one.

Entrepreneur Zhang Wei Liang, 25, is one such user. He works in Ayer Rajah Crescent and has used the cars half a dozen times since joining the scheme three weeks ago. "I've no problem getting a car. For me, it's so convenient because Smove is just downstairs from my office.

"I need to go to Tuas quite a lot, and Tuas is an area that taxi drivers tend to avoid."

He said he has clocked close to 150km per full charge - more than the usual 100-120km that the electric Mitsubishi usually gives on a full charge. But he admits that he does not use the air-conditioning - which saps battery power - all the time.

Ms Sandy Cheah, 37, who works at a publishing firm near Smove, has been a member for close to five months now. She said she has used the cars about 20 times, and like Mr Zhang, has had no trouble getting a car.

"It's about the same cost as getting a taxi," Ms Cheah said. "So it's great, especially when it rains and you can't even get a cab."

Smove has first-mover's advantage, as industry players have shied away from electric cars.

Rental car operator Johnny Harjantho, who owns Smart Automobiles, wanted to add electric cars to his fleet, but says he found the limited range of the vehicles as well as the charging time - more than 10 hours for a full charge from empty - too daunting.

Mr Lai Meng, director of Car Club, the largest car-sharing outfit here, said "electric cars are interesting, but are not practical at the moment".

He said setting up charging stations in Housing Board carparks is a challenge. And even though he said the average Car Club user clocks only 80km a day, most drivers will be apprehensive about the limited range of an electric car.

"It's all in the mind," he said. "When you see the bar dropping and there are no charging points in sight - that's range anxiety."

Mr Lokenvitz is not deterred, though. He said he is looking to expand his fleet as well as adding more locations after a test-bed that ends this June.

The test-bed, he said, was largely to gauge the stability of the booking and fleet management systems.

And so far, he said no one has been caught with flat batteries.

christan@sph.com.sg

pre

PREVIOUS STORY
Cleaning companies spring in

divider