Malaysia have Proton.
China have Chery.
Now, it sounds like we’re not only getting our first made-in-Singapore car, it’s an electric car to boot.
I read this article in the Today paper a couple of days ago, here is an excerpt:
IF BUDDING entrepreneur Clarence Tan gets his way, Singapore would be mass producing electric cars within two years.
Yesterday, Mr Tan announced at a press conference the setting up of The Green Car Company (TGCC) and its mission to manufacture 2,500 two-seater, air-conditioned electric cars a year, starting from 2010.
If Mr Tan’s plans bear fruit, it will be the first time Singapore has manufactured an entire car.
This is very intriguing. So I decided to find out more.
Electric cars are different from hybrid cars, which use a combination of petrol and electric engines. Instead, they are driven purely by electric motors and powered by battery packs.
This means no need to pump petrol ever again. Imagine how gleeful you’d feel every time you drive past a petrol station.
You just plug it into your regular wall socket every day and let it recharge overnight, just like how you’d recharge your mobile phone.
The new SEV-2 (Singapore Electric Vehicle 2) is based on the No More Gas (NMG) vehicle by US company Myers Motors, which in turn is based on the Corbin Sparrow. Myers Motors bought over the Corbin company in 2003.
The Achilles’ heel of all electric cars is the short range and low speed. For example, the NMG has a range of 30 to 60 miles on a single charge, and a top speed of only 75 mph (120 kmh).
This makes them suitable only in densely populated urban areas, such as Singapore.
The US Department of Transport even classifies the NMG as a motorcycle, so owners could ride them with a motorcycle license and park them in motorcycle lots.
But that won’t happen in Singapore as its 700kg weight is well over the Land Transport Authority’s limit of 400kg for a motorcycle.
I recall reading about the first Corbin Sparrow that was imported into Singapore in 2001.
Despite the owner’s best efforts, the Sparrow was registered as a car at a total cost of S$80,000.
That’s certainly a lot of money for a single-passenger, 3-wheeled vehicle.
So why would anyone pay $2.8m to $8.8m for one?
Their plan is to modify existing NMG vehicles and sell them as a “collector’s item”, to raise additional capital to put the cars into production. These production models would then sell at a more reasonable S$40,000.
However, if I were a millionaire with $2.8m to splash out on cars, I’d probably get four Lamborghini Gallardo instead.
If I were an environmentally responsible millionaire, I could get 18 Tesla Roadsters.
This is an all-electric sports car that does 0-60mph (0-96kmh) in under 4 seconds, a range of 220 miles (352km), and a top speed of 125 mph (200 kmh).
And it looks stunning too.
Lastly, Today reported that Mr Clarence Tan “started the company with an initial investment outlay of $3 million“.
A simple check at ACRA revealed that the initial start-up capital for The Green Car Company Pte Ltd is… only $2*.
I think we’ll have to wait just a while longer for a made-in-Singapore car to appear on our roads.
*[The Today journalist who wrote this article, Mr Loh Chee Kong, has clarified in an email that the $3 million figure was provided by Mr Clarence Tan, and that no checks were done due to time constraints.]