Technology

Electric car-sharing service to be launched in Singapore

Dyson to make electric cars by 2020

SINGAPORE: This photograph taken on Tuesday shows the electric Bluecars ahead of the launch of a BlueSG office, a subsidiary of France’s Bollore Group, in Singapore. The electric car-sharing service will launch in Singapore in December, in what the company behind the scheme said yesterday was a first for Southeast Asia. —AFP

SINGAPORE: An electric car-sharing service will be launched in Singapore in December, in what the company behind the scheme said yesterday was a first for Southeast Asia. BlueSG, a subsidiary of France’s Bollore Group, said that 80 cars and 30 stations where vehicles can be picked up and dropped off would be operational by the end of the year.

The group plans to roll out 1,000 of its custom-built Bluecars by 2020, as well as numerous stations and charging points. The affluent city-state-whose generally uncongested roads are a contrast to many traffic-choked cities in the region-has become a testbed for transport innovations. Last year it hosted a limited public trial of the world’s first driverless taxis. Marie Bollore, from Blue Solutions, said Singapore was a launchpad for the company to enter the Asian market.

“We will start in Singapore, and afterwards we will see if other regions in Asia are interested,” Bollore said at the launch of BlueSG’s new Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore.

The service is being rolled out with the help of the authorities. Land Transport Authority chief technology officer Lam Wee Shann said the initiative would “lay the foundation” for a network of electric vehicle charging stations, and support the growth of electric car use in Singapore.

Blue Solutions is the world’s biggest operator of electric car-sharing services, with 5,000 other electric vehicles in eight cities-including Paris and Lyon in France, Turin in Italy and Indianapolis in the United States. In Singapore, users will be able to book an electric car online or via a mobile app, and charged for the time they rent the vehicle rather than the distance travelled.

There will also be an option for a daily or annual membership. Slightly bigger than a Smart car, the two-door, four-seater Bluecars are designed with Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina. Nissan in March started a similar service in the city of Yokohama south of Tokyo.

Dyson venture
James Dyson announced Tuesday he was investing £2.0 billion ($2.7 billion, 2.3 billion euro) into developing an electric car by 2020, a new venture for the British inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner. The 70-year-old British entrepreneur said work began two and a half years ago on a project which he hopes will help tackle the scourge of air pollution.
“Dyson has begun work on a battery electric vehicle, due to be launched by 2020,” he said in an email to employees, referring to his eponymous company.

“The team is already over 400 strong, and we are recruiting aggressively. I’m committed to investing £2 billion on this endeavor,” he said. Details of the project remain top secret, but he said every element would be designed by his company.
He told journalists in London that half the investment would go into the car, the other half into the battery. In seeking to launch his own electric car without the aid of an established partner, Dyson follows the lead of US firm Tesla, founded by business magnate Elon Musk.

But it will put him up against major players in the automobile industry who are making their own forays into new technology. Asked if he intended to make a profit, he said: “I hope so. That’s the idea.”

‘Solve it at the source’
Dyson made his name with the bagless vacuum cleaner, but the company currently holds more than 10,000 patents, and produces hair dryers, fans, heaters and lighting. In his email to staff, he revealed this is not his first attempt to enter the automotive sector. In the 1990s he developed a filter that could be fitted on car exhaust systems, but said “nobody at the time was interested”.

He warned that poor government policies to tackle air pollution meant that “developed and developing cities are full of smog-belching cars, lorries and buses”.
“It is a problem that others are ignoring,” he said. But Dyson said he never gave up his ambition to find a solution. “At this moment, we finally have the opportunity to bring all our technologies together into a single product,” he wrote to staff. “Rather than filtering emissions at the exhaust pipe, today we have the ability to solve it at the source.” The research for the new vehicle will be done in Britain, but Dyson said he would decide in the coming months where the manufacturing would take place.
The company employs 8,500 people — 4,000 in Britain-with £1.4 billion in annual turnover and has a presence in 65 countries across the world. “Where we make the battery, we will make the car,” he said, adding: “We want to be near our suppliers, where logistically it makes sense.” – AFP

 

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