Back to top

Speech by Minister for Transport, Mr S Iswaran, at the World Economic Forum Future of Automotive and Mobility Conference

21 Dec 2021 Speeches

Prof. Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, 

Mr. Wang Huanqing, Vice Mayor of Guangzhou, 

Distinguished guests, 

1.     Good afternoon. I am delighted to join you today at this forum to discuss the future of automotive and mobility landscape. 

2.     The automotive and mobility industry has not been spared the profound disruptions to global supply chains and business models, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these challenges, or perhaps because of them, the sector has continued to innovate and transform itself, spurred by broader trends like digitalisation and decarbonisation. 

3.     Policymakers and industry leaders, like those of you present at todayís forum, have demonstrated leadership and set ambitious targets in the development of new solutions, such as autonomous vehicles (or AVs) and electric vehicles (or EVs). 

4.     In Singapore, we have embarked on a national effort to build a sustainable and future-ready transport system. Let me share with you today three key principles that underpin our approach. 

Laying out a clear vision to spur innovation 

5.     First, is to set a clear vision to rally the collective national effort and drive pathbreaking innovations. A good example of that is our transport decarbonisation and sustainability vision, which has been spelt out in the Singapore Green Plan 2030. 

6.     As a small island nation, we have always emphasised public, shared, and active transport. ìWalk, Cycle and Rideî continues to be the cornerstone of Singaporeís approach to achieve a sustainable and quality transport system under the Green Plan. With over 70% of Singaporeís daily commutes completed on public and shared transport modes, we are now pursuing cleaner-energy options for our taxi and public bus fleets. For example, we plan for all of Singaporeís public buses to run on cleaner energy by 2040 ñ that means no more internal combustion engines. This might well occur even earlier based on current trends. 

7.     With a vehicle population of nearly one million, it is also important for us to reduce the carbon footprint of private vehicles. Vehicle electrification, supported by a comprehensive charging network, is therefore a key component of our strategy. Our goal is for all new car registrations to be of cleaner energy models by 2030, and to phase out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2040. We have also committed to the deployment of 60,000 EV charging points across Singapore by 2030, of which 40,000 will be in public carparks. 

8.     With clear milestones and targets at the national level setting the tone, we have seen a decisive shift in consumer expectations and behaviour. Over 3% of all new car registrations in Singapore to date this year were EVs, a ten-fold increase from just one year ago. Singapore also welcomes innovation and investments in sustainability-related initiatives. One recent example is Hyundai Motor Groupís plan to establish their Innovation Centre in Singapore, with a plant to produce up to 30,000 EVs annually by 2025. The Innovation Centre will also carry out R&D activities, including developing and implementing advanced manufacturing technologies, as well as testing new mobility solutions, such as on-demand shuttle and multi-modal mobility services. 

Co-creating pathways in developing autonomous vehicles 

9.     In fostering a vibrant ecosystem for future mobility, neither the Government nor industry can operate in isolation; we need a symbiotic relationship. It is critical that we adopt the principle of co-creation and partnership in developmental pathways and solutions. Each party brings its own value proposition and strengths to the table. Our industry partners bring commercial discipline and innovation, while academic institutions provide deep technical expertise as well as training for our future workforce. These complement the Governmentís role of providing forward-looking regulations, innovation sandboxes, and robust safety standards. 

10.    This approach is perhaps best exemplified in Singaporeís development of AVs, which have the potential to unlock new mobility options for commuters and enhance the efficiency of transport operations. At every step of our AV journey, Singapore has made it a priority to co-create solutions with our stakeholders:

i.     First, we co-create strategies. When Singapore kickstarted our AV journey in 2015, we established a Committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore (CARTS) comprising public and private members, to study and test-bed AVs, grow the AV ecosystem and facilitate business opportunities. This collaborative approach has enabled numerous AV trials, for the benefit of all stakeholders. 

ii.    Second, we co-develop standards and regulations. Singaporeís AV standards, Technical Reference (TR) 68, were jointly created and updated by industry players, government regulators, and academic experts, based on the latest AV technological developments. We are pleased that our TR68 standard has been referenced in the development of ISO 37181 on ìSmart community infrastructures ñ smart transportation by autonomous vehicles on public roadsî. We are grateful for this recognition of Singaporeís contributions to the development of global AV standards.

iii.   Third, we co-implement enabling infrastructure. We partnered our local research institute, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), to set up the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of AVs (CETRAN). At CETRAN, all stakeholders collaborate to develop a milestone-based testing & certification system, and provide a safe and professionally-designed environment to test AVs in local traffic scenarios. 

11.    As the WEF highlighted in its 2020 Safe Drive Initiative publication, this co-creation approach has helped Singapore nurture a healthy tension between AV developers, researchers, and regulators, allowing everyone to benefit from the safe and innovative products that result. 

Creating inclusive international partnerships 

12.    Last, but by no means least, it is important to forge inclusive international partnerships. Such alliances are critical to scaling up the benefits of technological innovation, by leveraging on the network effects of cutting-edge technologies and reaping economies of scale. This is especially true for EVs and perhaps even more so for AVs. 

13.    Such partnerships also increase our awareness of new technologies, and support efforts to achieve interoperability and harmonised global standards. This knowledge-sharing helps to build competency and confidence among all stakeholders ñ including regulators, companies, and users. 

14.    To this end, we have made it a priority to actively engage other international regulators and organisations. For instance, our AV regulators have been active members of the WEF Global Autonomous Vehicle Council. Singapore has also contributed to international knowledge-building initiatives like the WEF Safe Drive Initiative. We are always keen to share our experiences, as well as learn from that of other nations, at global platforms such as the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress and APEC Automotive Dialogue, and we look forward to more opportunities for meaningful exchanges. 

Concluding remarks 

15.    To conclude, as the saying goes, ìIf you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.î In Singapore, we believe that innovation can only be sustainable if it is inclusive. By bringing all stakeholders along in our journey, and partnering countries around the world, we aspire to ìgo far togetherî in delivering better mobility for all. 

16.    I look forward to a fruitful discussion today and I want to thank our Chinese host for organising this very valuable forum. Thank you.