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20 Aug 2013 | Local News : Singapore

The increased local tariffs and reduced rebates on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles imposed by the Government has affected their popularity.


It was a hope. A vision. In 2009, Mr Teo Kiang Ang envisioned the world's largest Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) refuelling station in Old Toh Tuck Road - a 7,066m2 facility with 46 pumps - getting a counterpart in the eastern part of Singapore, and his taxi company Trans Cab operating a fleet of 8,000 CNG cabs by 2014.

The pump price of CNG is about $1.73 a litre - 3.5 percent higher than diesel and 21 percent lower than 95-octane petrol, both of which are pre-discount prices
Four years later, those dreams are dashed and he has changed his decision. Fewer than half of his 4,500-strong fleet run on CNG, there is no second station, and he has applied to the Government to convert his Toh Tuck premises to office space. "We still have about 2,000 CNG taxis. But in about three to four years, we will have none," Mr Teo said.

The number of CNG vehicles has been shrinking since the Government imposed a tariff on CNG in January last year, and replaced the previous Green Vehicle Rebate with the Carbon Emissions-Based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS). The duty closed the gap between the prices of gas and traditional fuels, while the incentive plan reduced rebates for CNG cars, which the Government concluded were not significantly cleaner than petrol-driven cars.

Industry players and analysts also cite other reasons for CNG's fading presence.

"Singapore is the only place in the region where diesel is cheaper than CNG, so fleet operators like bus companies found no benefit in converting," said Mr William Aw. He recently sold his share in CNG refueller Smart Energy, which operates two other CNG stations. A fourth, on Jurong Island, is operated by Sembcorp and is inaccessible to most users.

Fewer than 10 percent of Mr Neo Nam Heng's fleet of about 900 Prime Taxi cabs run on CNG, down from 75 percent in 2009. "We've converted most of them to run only on petrol," he said, adding that CNG cabs break down more often and had to be refuelled more frequently.
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