BEAUTY IN THE FRIDGE

‘Fuel’ For A Monthly Fee? This S’pore Firm Offers A Subscription Plan For EV Drivers

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Last year, Financial Times listed homegrown solar energy firm Sunseap, who is responsible for installing solar panels of the rooftops of HDB flats, as one of the top 50 fastest-growing companies in Asia Pacific.

As the largest renewable energy company here, Sunseap felt like green mobility is a natural extension of its offerings and subsequently launched a green mobility business arm called Charge+.

Although it was established in 2018, Charge+ was in “R&D mode” until its official launch in September last year, said its CEO Goh Chee Kiong.

At launch, Charge+ announced that it plans to set up 10,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging points across Singapore by 2030 in hopes that it will be a “game-changer” in catalysing EV adoption in Singapore.

This move is also in line with with Singapore’s aim of phasing out internal combustion engine vehicles for 100 per cent clean energy vehicles by 2040.

Previously, the government had said that it would expand Singapore’s EV charging infrastructure significantly from the current 1,600 charging points to 28,000 by 2030.

This makes’s Charge+’s goal of 10,000 EV charging points more than one-third of the government’s, which could make the company the largest EV charging provider in Singapore.

Charging In Three Different Markets

charge+ team
L-R: Lawrence Wu, Director, Finance of Charge+; Ong Tze Boon, Charge+ chairman; Frank Phuan, Charge+ director; Goh Chee Kiong, Charge+ CEO / Image Credit: Charge+

Charge+ is currently focusing on three market segments: residential, commercial and industrial, as well as fleets.

It aims to install charging points in public housing estates and private developments, particularly condominiums, so residents can have a peace of mind of being able to charge their EVs overnight.

Beyond residential spaces, Charge+ is also looking at installing charging points in commercial and industrial buildings to serve the workplace market.

By doing so, Charge+ is also indirectly attracting more visitors to the premises, which benefits the tenants, as well as enhancing the environmental sustainability of the building.

Lastly, Charge+ will also serve companies operating electric vehicle fleets so they can lower their total cost of ownership.

As a leading EV charging operator in Singapore, Charge+ aims to make the charging experience convenient, pleasant and affordable for residents and businesses.

– Goh Chee Kiong, CEO of Charge+

Installation of its charging points is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2021 at commercial, industrial and residential premises.

They Developed The World’s Slimmest EV Charger

One common challenge faced by EV charging providers in Singapore is size.

EV chargers are typically bulky, which means that it won’t fit in Singapore’s space-tight carparks.

charge+ ev charger
Charge+’s ultra-slim charger / Image Credit: Charge+

This is why Charge+ has designed and developed a proprietary ultra-slim charger. At around 150mm — which is less than half the thickness of other chargers — it allows for plug and play in many existing carparks in Singapore.

This form factor, which makes it the slimmest charger in the world, allows Charge+ to have the maximum freedom in installing chargers in carparks across many Asian high-density cities.

– Goh Chee Kiong, CEO of Charge+

Since many carparks in Singapore have limited localised power supply, Charge+ will apply its smart charging solution to allow for more chargers to be installed, thereby serving more drivers.

This solution forms part of Charge+’s cloud-based management system to remotely control and monitor all its EV chargers nationwide.

Its 7.4kW chargers can charge two vehicles at a time, and can also adjust the available power supply according to the number of vehicles being charged.

charge+ mobile app
Charge+ mobile app / Image Credit: Charge+

In addition, EV drivers can conveniently use the Charge+ mobile app to find available chargers, activate charging and make payment.

Solving The “Chicken-And-Egg Conundrum”

In line with its 10,000 EV charging points ambition, Charge+ recently announced that it aims to install 4,000 EV charging points across 1,200 Singapore condominiums.

According to Chee Kiong, they have received “overwhelmingly positive response” from the management and residents of many condominiums.

charge+ sky eleven
Signing event between Charge+ and Sky@Eleven condominium / Image Credit: Charge+

Its first partnership is with Sky@Eleven condominium, with six charging points slated to be installed within the premises.

“This affirms the strong pent-up demand for EV take-up among condominium residents who have been discouraged so far by the lack of charging infrastructure in the condominium premises,” said Chee Kiong.

He added that Charge+’s core business model is “charging-as-a-service”, in which it will invest in, install and operate EV charging points.

“This means zero cost and zero hassle to the landlord partners we work with,” explained Chee Kiong.

With this model, it has garnered strong interest from many condominiums because the upfront capital outlay, operating expenses and risk are all borne by Charge+.

But why is Charge+ choosing to build the EV charging points for free?

Traditionally, condominiums with residents interested in EVs will consider investing in their own charging station, but most condominiums had not been successful to-date in getting the majority support of their residents to make such hefty investments.

– Goh Chee Kiong, CEO of Charge+

Charging providers that want to build stations in condominiums must first get the majority of residents’ approval.

This is an uphill task, considering that many don’t own EVs and are therefore unwilling to pay the maintenance fees or give up their parking lots.

By providing these stations for free, it is basically a bid to get residents to endorse such investments.

Moreover, developers have also said that it’s more efficient to build a condominium with such EV parking lots instead of putting them in later.

Chee Kiong went on to talk about the “chicken-and-egg conundrum” between prospective buyers of EVs and charging infrastructure investments.

Once condo residents see a charging station at their doorsteps, they would be far more inclined to consider taking up EVs.

Until the investment happens, the psychological barrier to EV adoption remains great.

– Goh Chee Kiong, CEO of Charge+

In other words, drivers will hesitate to adopt EVs until they see a proliferation of charging infrastructure.

Therefore, Charge+ aims to address this pain point, and “provide convenience and peace of mind to EV drivers” through its solutions.

Pay About Half Of What You Typically Pay For Petrol

EV drivers living in condominiums that opt to use Charge+’s charging service will pay a fixed monthly fee on a subscription basis, which is a “first-of-its-kind” for EV charging in Singapore.

Under this subscription model, users will be given a certain threshold of energy per month for a monthly fee — this is similar to a telco package with a set number of mobile data capacity per month.

They will benefit from the cost savings from using this service since the monthly charging fee will be about half of what a driver driving a conventional vehicle will typically spend on petrol on a monthly basis.

– Goh Chee Kiong, CEO of Charge+

Based on the average driving distance data from Singapore’s national statistics, Singaporean drivers spend close to S$300 per month on petrol.

This could mean that Charge+ would probably charge users a flat fee of about S$150 a month.

goh chee kiong charge+ ceo
Goh Chee Kiong, Charge+ CEO / Image Credit: Screenshot from CNA video

Chee Kiong remains tight-lipped about the exact figures, but revealed that Charge+ will finalise and announce its charging fees soon.

When asked to comment on the current EV landscape in Singapore, Chee Kiong said that the EV population is “still minuscule”, which means that there’s tremendous upside for growth.

Just like automobiles replaced horses decisively about 100 years ago, we think the EV transition in Singapore is irrevocable and will have a profound impact on our land transportation scene.

This transition will also generate synergies with adjacencies such as autonomous vehicles and car sharing.

– Goh Chee Kiong, CEO of Charge+

The government has already reviewed Singapore’s (lacking) EV infrastructure and rolled out various incentives to push for EV adoption.

Charge+ wants to contribute to this ambition by building up Singapore’s overall EV charging infrastructure and lowering the EV to charging point ratio.

Chee Kiong noted that Singapore is already leading the way in Southeast-Asia by becoming the first country in the region to announce the phasing out of conventional vehicles.

“With Singapore as our beachhead, Charge+ is now planning our entry into the regional markets and become a pan-Asian player in EV charging solutions,” he added.

Featured Image Credit: Charge+

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