Despite efforts to drum up interest in electric vehicles in Singapore, high costs and a lack of charging stations continue to hold back their use.
Yuey Tan and Claire Jedrek are a car-racing couple with motorsport in their blood who opened Singapore’s first electric go-kart track in the hope it would spark interest in a cleaner future. While barriers remain, more Singaporeans are embracing emission-free vehicles as racing shifts gears to become less polluting.
“It was all about renewable energy, trying to find something a little bit cleaner. Also much cleaner for the clients here, the drivers, the families, little kids, so that is why we went down the electric road,” Tan said of their motivation in opening the go-kart track.
Both Tan and Jedrek are 37. He’s competed at events such as the World Endurance Championships and Le Mans, and is now racing for Porsche with the Novu Racing Team. Claire is Singapore’s only woman racer. They said 85,000 racers have taken to Karting Arena’s course in Turf City since it opened in 2015.
They still see it as a model for a greener future.
“Industry-wise we thought that having the environment with the electric karts per se was something a little bit different. That is what the market might have required. I think it is something we did think about, futurewise,” Jedrek said.
The Karting Arena is a popular venue with racing fans for the interactive technology that gives them a lot of data to geek out over. Drivers can check their timings, progress, and compare their performances with friends and family. The Karting Arena includes a simulator where visitors can get a feel of what the karts are like to drive and the track layout.
With its Singapore Grand Prix Formula One event, Singapore is a racing city. Tan and Jedrek see that as a positive force for a more sustainable future.
While far from an eco-friendly sport – a racer’s carbon footprint is quite large – even Formula One sees a greener future. By 2030, it wants to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint and recently signed onto the U.N. Sports for Climate Action Framework.
Both Clare and Tan are on board with changing perceptions of the sport, and see changes happening in part to Formula E’s all-electric series of races.
“I think the interesting thing as well that people forget about motorsport is that a lot of what they do in Formula One, and Formula E is a lot of the technology that goes into it. It is not just sports guys going around in a car and you know and all to do with the battery and those kinds of things. This is the technology that is going to be available in our everyday lives” Claire said.
In today’s climate, electric motorsports such as Formula E, Electric Touring Cars, MotoE, are emerging. These sports have gained worldwide audiences as a result of their breakthrough technology. Much of the technology you have seen in modern-day cars derive from Formula One and Formula E.
Singapore is known for hosting the iconic Marina Bay circuit for the world’s most famous motorsport, Formula One. Since its first event in 2008, it continues to be a big draw with more than 200,000 people attending last year’s race. However, Formula One’s younger and cleaner sibling Formula E has taken the world by storm since it emerged in 2014. Already racing across the world’s cities across five continents, there have been ongoing talks of bringing it to Singapore.
The rise of electric motorsport is largely due to the increase in the popularity of electric cars. They too have rolled out in increasing numbers onto Singapore’s street, though for a variety of reasons the country still relies on petrol.
According to the Land Transport Authority, there were 1,036 fully electric cars as of September, nearly the double number recorded in 2018. Though demand has been rising, electric vehicles only comprise 0.16% of nearly 630,000 vehicles driven in Singapore.
Some taxis and buses in Singapore have gone electric. New green e-buses were announced late last year by the Land Transport Authority, 60 of which are now on trial.
Although there were only 133 fully electric taxis as of September, there were more than 7,000 hybrids.
“They’ve got to put charging stations in or no one is going to buy cars,” Tan said. There are more than 1,000 charging stations nationwide, but not enough available at or near enough to homes to be practical for widespread adoption.
Tan highlights that Singapore has all the necessary qualities for new technologies to transform its car scene. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, he added.
“All I know is that if Singapore wants to do something, they will do it,” Tan said.
The potential for electric cars is therefore huge in the lion city. Its first electric go-kart could be the necessary step in convincing the public to go green.
“Now that people are going into the automotive world with electric cars, this is perfect for people to understand exactly what it is all about,” Jedrek said.
More lifestyle news from the Little Red Dot at Coconuts.co/Singapore/lifestyle.