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Singapore to stop registrations of new diesel cars, taxis from Jan. 1, 2025
  • | Straits Times | July 10, 2024 09:24 PM
New diesel cars and taxis will no longer be registered in Singapore starting from Jan 1, 2025, as part of a push by the Government to have all vehicles on the streets running on cleaner energy by 2040.



The upcoming ban on new diesel cars and taxis comes before all new cars and taxis registered here are required to be cleaner-energy models from 2030. 

The move to phase out the more pollutive vehicles was announced in Parliament three years ago during a debate on the Government’s environmental sustainability plans in March 2021.

Since then, the proportion of new diesel car and taxi registrations has remained below 1 per cent in total, given the availability of cleaner alternatives, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on July 10.

The upcoming ban on new diesel cars and taxis comes before all new cars and taxis registered here are required to be cleaner-energy models from 2030.

While owners of diesel cars registered before Jan 1, 2025, will be able to renew their certificate of entitlement (COE) after the 2025 deadline, they will be subject to higher road taxes to discourage renewal, LTA said.

This is because of an existing policy to charge a road tax surcharge of 10 per cent to 50 per cent for vehicles that are more than 10 years old, depending on the vehicle’s age.

However, LTA also said the restrictions on new diesel car registrations will not apply to the import and registration of cars under the Classic Vehicle and Vintage Vehicle schemes.

Under the schemes, classic vehicles must be at least 35 years old from their original registration date and meet specific registration and technical requirements.

Meanwhile, vintage vehicles are well-preserved, heritage-rich cars, motorcycles or scooters that were manufactured before January 1940.

As at May 2024, there were 19,972 cars and taxis running on diesel plying Singapore’s roads. These make up a small minority of the 164,759 diesel vehicles here, of which the bulk are goods vehicles and buses.

As at May, about 17 per cent of all vehicles in Singapore ran on diesel. Among passenger cars, pure diesel models made up about 2.7 per cent of the population of 650,001.

While taxis used to largely run on diesel, a large majority have since switched to petrol-electric hybrid or fully electric models. As at May, about 16.8 per cent of the 13,330 cabs here were still diesel-powered.

At the same time, efforts have been made to encourage owners of commercial vehicles to move away from diesel and switch to cleaner fuels, such as the Early Turnover Scheme (ETS) and Commercial Vehicle Emissions Scheme (CVES).

Under the ETS, the owner of an older commercial vehicle can switch to a new one with cleaner emissions by paying a discounted rate of the COE price instead of having to bid for a new one.

Meanwhile, under the CVES, owners of light goods vehicles are given cash incentives if they choose cleaner, mainly electric, models.

As at May, 88.6 per cent of the 143,565 goods vehicles here were diesel-powered, an improvement from 95.8 per cent as at end-2020. For buses, 97.4 per cent of the 18,007 registered here were powered by diesel.

LTA has pledged to only buy public buses that run on cleaner energy, and to replace half of its fleet of close to 6,000 largely diesel-powered public buses with those running on electricity by 2030.

Some private bus operators have also made the switch to fully electric bus models in recent years.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who was transport minister in 2021, told Parliament at the time that motor vehicles in Singapore emit about 6.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

But if all light vehicles – including cars and taxis – ran on electricity, the total net carbon abatement would amount to about 1.5 million to two million tonnes per year, which is about 4 per cent of Singapore’s total national emissions.

Mr Ong also said at the time that switching from an internal combustion engine vehicle to a battery-powered one would lead to net carbon savings of 50 per cent.

This is even if the electricity used to power the electric vehicles is generated by fossil fuels like natural gas, he added.

Mr Neo Nam Heng, adviser to the Automobile Importer and Exporter Association and chairman of diversified motor group Prime, said the motor industry is well aware of the impending ban on new diesel cars and has been prepared for it.

“To my knowledge, no one has been talking about bringing in any new diesel models for the past one to two years already,” he said.

Most taxi operators here have also abandoned diesel models for petrol-electric hybrid vehicles, Mr Neo added.

For instance, ComfortDelGro, the largest taxi operator, called a tender in 2023 to buy up to 1,000 new petrol-electric hybrid taxis. This was to replace diesel-powered Hyundai i40 cabs reaching the end of their lives in 2024.

Ms Nicole Mak, who drives a 2.2-litre diesel Kia Sorento, still has about four years before the COE on her seven-seater expires.

But with the Government discouraging the use of diesel vehicles, the 46-year-old legal counsel said she will likely scrap her current car and look at other options.

“Actually, the Kia Sorento is really a great car. It drives really well, and I don’t really have to refuel it that often, about once in two weeks,” she said. “The minus point is that diesel is not so good for the environment... So it is a bit of a pity.”

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