Do you know you can hire electric cars in Singapore? The idea of an eco-friendly car that causes no petrol pollution and less wastage is great – but there are also so many questions. Can these little cars fit a full family? Will the battery run out and leave you stranded by the side of the road? And how do costs compare to hiring a regular car?
To find out the answers we tried BlueSG, the biggest electric hire car company in Singapore.
WATCH OUR VIDEO REVIEW:
How it works:
- Go online to their website and register your name and card.
- Decide which hire package suits you best (more on this below).
- Use their online map to check the locations of their 330 charging stations around Singapore.
- You can pick your car up from any station, and return it to any station – as long as there is space.
- At the charging station, you “Tap in” your payment card on a smart reader.
- Unplug your car, unlock the doors – and you’re off!
Is a BlueSG electric car cheaper than renting a petrol car?
If you need a car for three hours or less, BlueSG works out cheaper. But if you want the car for longer, a petrol hire car may work out cheaper.
We hired the electric car for three hours, and it cost $47.90 ($39.90 rental package + $8/month basic membership fee).
Petrol hire cars are $50 – $90 for a whole day, plus petrol. And you can drive a petrol hire car over the causeway to Malaysia – that’s not allowed with BlueSG.
If you want a car only occasionally
- Basic Plan is $8/month to register – no commitment period. Plus $0.33 cents per minute usage rate.
- Then you add your rental packages. Rental Packages let you book in blocks of three hours for $39.90 or five hours for $59.90. No mileage costs.
If you want a car at least once a week for a few months
- Premium $18/month – minimum six months commitment period, bundled with 45 minutes of usage per month, along with other seasonal promotions and perks. $0.33 cents per minute usage rate. Insurance is included. If you need a car at least once a week for a few months, the Premium plan is good.
*costs correct as of June 2020
Did You Know?
• BlueSG has over 650 electric cars for hire.
• 330 charging stations around Singapore, with plans to set up 500 charging locations in Singapore by the end of 2020.
• Many charging stations are in HDB estates and URA car parks.
• Some charging stations in shopping malls, including Funan and Plaza Singapura.
• One charging station in Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
• Three charging stations in Sentosa – and entry is free if you drive in using a BlueSG car.
• Orchard area has only two BlueSG stations, at Claymore Hill (behind Scotts Plaza) and in Plaza Singapura.
Returning your electric car: the good and bad
You can return the car to any charging lot around Singapore. Plugging the car back into the charging point is easy – and fun!
Finding an empty space to plug your car in is not so fun.
You can book a space at any charging station using the Queue-pop function on the BlueSG app – but it only reserves your space for 45 minutes. Then it automatically offers it to the next person in the virtual “queue.”
This means you can lose your spot if there’s a traffic jam – or your toddler suddenly has to go to the toilet, again.
In our case, we booked a spot at a charging station near our destination… but when we arrived 50 minutes later, it was full. We had to drive to another charging station 15 minutes away. Luckily we still had enough time in our three-hour booking window to get there, but it was far from an MRT and where we’d wanted to end up.
So if you’re travelling with kids or elderly, do factor in the costs of getting everyone back home. Will you need to hail a taxi? Can you pile onto the MRT with your barang barang?
How far can the car go on the electric battery?
Their patented high-performance battery can go 200 km on a single charge – which is more than enough to criss cross Singapore several times, or take a relaxing drive around the coast.
But you must return the car with at least 30% charge (it’s in the usage policy). This matters because the battery also powers the car’s air-conditioner. While I dropped off some packages, my husband opted to wait in the car, with air-conditioning on. When I got back 20 minutes later, the battery had dropped by several percent.
But we still had enough. We drove from Novena to Balestier, up to Woodlands, then back to Orchard Road – and still had 52% battery left.
Theoretically you can “top up” the battery by plugging it in at any charging station, but considering you pay for the hire of the car by the hour, this doesn’t really work out.
Is BlueSG comfortable inside?
First the good news: the air-conditioner is powerful. The GPS voice instructions are clear. But they’re slower than instructions from the handphone, so we found it better to use our phone for navigation.
Their website swears the car can fit four adults. But I found it a struggle to wiggle into the back seat. It may not be ideal if you’re travelling with elderly family members, or bigger-sized people (like me).
The back seat includes a latch system so you can attach your own toddler child seat.
You can easily fit six bags of shopping in the boot, or flip the back seats down and fit two big suitcases.
No dashcams can mean dirty carpets
BlueSG do not have dashcams in the cars – so if there’s an accident or dispute (choy choy) – well, it’s your word against the other driver.
There are also no visual records of how the car looks when you pick it up or drop it off. Maybe that makes some users less careful about mess? Put it this way – both times we hired BlueSG vehicles, the carpets and door gloveboxes were dirty. Other users report they’ve hired cars where the mobile phone mounts have been stolen, or the car has been damaged.
In theory, BlueSG says no pets are allowed in the car… but with no camera, how would they know?
My tip is to take disinfectant wet wipes to wipe down the steering wheel, door handles and seats.
Any driving quirks?
This is a FIRM ride… you feel the bumps in the road. I was video-ing so my husband drove. He describes the handling: “Stiff, but much like an automatic car. The exception is when you’re parked on a hill – then it handles like a manual car in that the neutral gear does not lock you in place. You have to pull up the handbrake to stay in place, and release it to drive off.
“It also takes a few minutes to get used to the different feel of the foot pedals. The brake feels rather soft and soggy whereas the accelerator is pretty stiff. Give yourself a minute or two of easy driving at the beginning of your journey to help you get the hang of it.”
What about parking, insurance and ERP gantry fees?
Insurance is included in the hire fee.
For ERP, you don’t need a payment card in the car’s IU card reader on the dashboard. Instead, the car registers ERP fees in some magic way and adds them to your bill when you return the car.
But confusingly, you do still need a card in the IU reader if you use a mall or HDB carpark. So take along your NETS FlashPay, Credit Cards, EZ-Link, NETS or Transitlink.
Real Life Review:
BlueSG 100% Electric Vehicle Car Sharing Service
3 Must-Know Facts:
- Pick up and drop off at any of the 330 charging stations around Singapore. You do not have to take the car back to the starting point.
- Child seats can be fitted. But you must take your own child seat.
- Compact backseat may not suit elderly passengers.
If you need a car for three hours or less, BlueSG works out cheaper than renting a petrol car. And it’s good to know you are driving an eco-friendly electric car.
All images provided by Tara Barker.