OCBC Bank and NUS collaborate on a nationwide electric vehicle adoption study


OCBC Bank and the National University of Singapore (NUS) announced the start of the nation’s largest dedicated study to understand the most effective nudges to adopt electric vehicles (EV) by Singaporeans. A total of 32,000 OCBC Bank customers will contribute to the study, which is expected to span three months. They will be selected on the basis of having a high likelihood of replacing their cars in the coming years.

Through the study, OCBC Bank and NUS aim to uncover nudges that best push consumers to make the switch to EVs, such as concerns over cost of EV ownership in the long-run or climate-damaging carbon emission levels of petrol and diesel vehicles. The persuasiveness of the different factors will be gauged by studying anonymised data from the 32,000 customers, including transit spending, fuel purchases on OCBC cards and EV transition rate.

Leading the NUS research team is Associate Professor Alberto Salvo from the Department of Economics at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Prof Salvo is also Associate Director at the NUS Global Asia Institute (GAI). The team also comprises GAI environmental and behavioural economists, along with an expert on the US and Chinese EV markets from Cornell University.

The findings from the study will help businesses and organisations accelerate consumers’ adoption of EVs and other green practices, and also to support Singapore’s current push to electrify its vehicle population by phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040. Currently, EVs represent less than one per cent of Singapore’s total car population according to Singapore’s Land Transport Authority.

OCBC Bank has seen the take-up rate of its enhanced electric vehicle loan or the OCBC ‘Eco-Care’ car loan more than double since its launch in March 2021. With the surge of demand and interest in EVs, the bank expects the overall OCBC ‘Eco-Care’ car loan business to achieve growth of more than 250% by the end of the year. The study of the findings will allow OCBC bank to further refine and tailor its green products to make them more attractive to customers.

Mr Sunny Quek, Head of Consumer Financial Services Singapore, OCBC Bank, said, “Supporting our customers in the transition to a low-carbon world is an area of focus for OCBC and this has been formalised in our corporate strategy. To that end, we have made a concerted effort to launch sustainable products and services, including green investment products and our OCBC ‘Eco-Care’ home, renovation and car loans – and the take-up rates have been encouraging thus far. However, given the urgency of the climate crisis, more needs to be done to speed up adoption rates. That is why we embarked on this study with NUS. Only by understanding what makes consumers tick, and which factors really tip the scale for them in favour of electric vehicles, can we effectively encourage our customers to go green.”

Associate Professor Salvo said, “The EV market is very fluid, information frictions are substantial and there is little carbon literacy. We believe that relationships built on trust, such as a person’s relationship with their bank, as in the case of OCBC’s customers, have a key role to play in educating current petrol car owners on just how attractive EVs can be, both for themselves and for the betterment of society. Our partnership is ultimately about helping Singapore meet its carbon mitigation pledges.”

After the study is concluded and the results analysed, a research paper will be released. This is expected to be in Q2 2023. This study is the latest initiative from OCBC Bank to build up Singapore’s EV ecosystem. Previously, the bank announced a strategic partnership with Charge+, an operator and provider of EV charging solutions, to give a boost to Charge+’s plans of installing 10,000 EV charging points islandwide by 2030. The bank also has the largest EV charging hub in Singapore’s Central Business District with 10 charging points, again in collaboration with Charge+. For more on OCBC Bank’s sustainability-related initiatives, please click here.