Singapore G1 Launch

The aim of this event was simple: to promote green transport, in the form of public transport, alternative transport and fuel efficient cars.

The Singapore G1 Launch was held on the 24th August outside the Shaw House. This event was hosted by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), which promotes environmental-friendly technology, particularly in the form of green transportation.

The G1 Launch, of course, is a mere prelude to the real thing. The real thing is actually a race – except the only things racing in the main event held on 19 September will be vehicles – soapbox cars, derby cars and regular cars – powered by anything but an internal combustion engine. And this is the roots of how the name “G1” came to being. It’s not exactly F1, it’s a green F1.

Togoparts got invited to the launch as the Official Cycling Media. Although it was not strictly a cycling event, it did provide a pretty interesting insight of how alternative technology is putting the internal combustion engine to shame.
The aim of this event was simple: to promote green transport, in the form of public transport, alternative transport and fuel efficient cars. It is in fact quite evident when everything that was on display was a exhibition of how a person can get around in a much more environmentally friendly way.

There were in fact quite a few exciting machines there on display. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll find the ITE Eco XV. A very exciting piece of machinery, it looks like a sleek streamlined recumbent. This, however, is not a human powered recumbent. Rather, it is powered by a 35cc weed-cutting motor, producing 1.3 horsepower. The spokesman claims that this has a top speed of 180km/h, but I’m a bit skeptical. Nonetheless, rather importantly, the overarching philosophy of this machine is efficiency. Having a low-frontal area and a streamlined symmetrical body, it definitely looks like it has minimized all possible sources of drag. These points to a very critical aspect of efficient cycling – given the fact that humans as a power plant cannot produce significant power; much has to be done about the drag that holds us back.

A great pity, however, is that this machine is only an experimental piece of kit. I asked the spokesman on if there ever be a time where this machine will roam the roads as a commuting tool, and he said, “possibly”. Based on current laws however, it would seem that this would qualify in the more restricted motorcycle category, rather than in the less governed bicycle category. Perhaps if he put a 250W electric motor instead?

Moving on, you’ll be rather interested in the electric powered Porsche Boxster or BMW 5 series. A carbon neutral, ultra-silent and still highly titillating to petrolheads, this seems to be the future. I caught up with the spokesman of EV Hub, David Choy. He mentioned the variation in scalability of the power system’s design. There are variations in powerplants, evident in the fact that the BMW and Porsche there were powered by two different motors, one producing 60kW and the other doing 92kW. Don’t let the kilowatt measurement fool you, it might not be measured in the de facto measurement of power in a petrolheads’ car, horsepower, and 92kW is rather low for a Porsche especially, but these things do get pretty respectable 0 – 100 times. The Porsche, David claims, can do it in six seconds.

As to range, it is in fact scalable, depending on how fat your wallet is and how much you need. You could use archaic lead acid batteries, the lowest form of battery in their range. Or climb up the technological ladder and go for Lithium batteries. David, however, says that because Singapore is so small, it is in fact quite possible to commute safely on simply lead-acid batteries. These are plug-in electric cars, so this could be a problem if you don’t live in a private estate.

As much as cycling is not the mainstay of today’s event, this event is inextricable from it. As a means to make a statement, the group came in a peloton of bikes with the two aforementioned electric vehicles. Impressive, but what was more impressive was when I talked to Howard Shaw, executive director of SEC, I asked him one simple question: “how can cycle commuting be more encouraged? “ Howard told me that cycle commuting has a few niggles of which having a lack of road space is one of the – in Singapore, we don’t have bicycle lanes, for example.  He also mentioned how riders have to be more rule-abiding, as his experience in London shown: cyclists must have the courtesy of stopping at red lights and giving way people such as pedestrians at ped-crossings.

The same question went out to the rest of the peloton: “do you commute?” A little more than half the peloton did. There were two distinct groups: the Joyriders and Treknology with William Chan, a national cyclist for Singapore. I posed the next question, “what do you think of the Singaporean roads?” The classic answer came out. In a word: perilous. Surprisingly, William Chan told me that he found the roads here to be quite safe, as long as you “know the basics”.

All these, however, is merely a launch event. The main event will be held on 19 September at The Float @ Marina Bay. Should you be interested, check out http://www.singaporeg1.sg .