Grab adds 200 Hyundai Kona electric cars to fleet

RIDE-hailing service Grab has bought 200 Hyundai Kona electric cars, making it one of the largest electric vehicle (EV) fleet owners in Singapore. 

The first batch of 20 EVs has been rented out to Grab drivers and will hit the roads by Friday. The remainder will be progressively deployed by year-end.

Grab’s private-hire car drivers will enjoy a preferential discount of up to 30 per cent at SP Group’s EV charging stations, said Kau Yi Ming, head GrabRentals Singapore, during a media briefing on Thursday.

Grab will charge drivers S$80 a day in rental for the Hyundai Kona, which Mr Kau said is “comparable” to rental charges for “mainstream, mass-market” cars.

Grab drivers who switch from hybrid cars can save 40 per cent in fuel costs, he estimated. Those switching from petrol cars can save 70 per cent.

Taking other incentives from Grab into consideration, drivers could see their daily incomes rise by up to 25 per cent, he added.

Grab’s move into EVs is part of a collaboration with SP Group, first announced in August. 

On Wednesday, SP announced that it had rolled out 38 EV charging points islandwide, half of which are high-powered 50kW direct current (DC) chargers that can charge a typical electric car in just 30 minutes.

The remaining are 43kW alternating current (AC) charging points.

The Hyundai Kona charges to 80 per cent in 30 minutes with the high-powered DC charging point, said Mr Kau. The car has a driving range of 482 km.

“Drivers clock about 200 km to 300 km in a day. With this charging capacity, there is no more range anxiety that drivers need to face,” he said.

But it takes about seven to nine hours to fully charge the Hyundai Kona with the AC charging point, he added.

“It is not the right kind of charging mechanism for our drivers. SP has a mandate to serve the larger public as well. (Grab) drivers can choose to use these charging points… but I think the fast charging is still the most appropriate,” Mr Kau said.

SP will introduce 1,000 charging stations by 2020, out of which 250 will be high-powered DC ones.

The greater availability of high-powered charging points makes it ideal for Grab to build up its EV fleet now, said Mr Kau.

However, the DC charging points are also more expensive. SP has set the rates for members of the public (excluding GST) at 44.19 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for the DC points, and 38.68 cents per kWh for the AC ones.

The total cost of charging a car varies for each model, said a spokesman for SP. 

From next month, Grab will introduce an achievement-based rewards system that lets drivers earn up to S$100 a month by charging at different locations.

Thus far, “hundreds” of Grab drivers have experienced interest in renting the EVs, said Mr Kau. Grab has been running workshops for them to learn about the EVs, and will continue to do so.

Similar to its collaboration with Grab, SP partnered with electric taxi operator HDT in October to support its vehicle-charging needs for the next ten years. HDT plans to scale up its fleet of EVs to 800 by 2022.

SP plans to work with more fleet operators moving forward, the spokesman said.