Full article at:In 2011, Tesla did indeed open an office here. But less than six months later, it departed our shores without selling a single car.
The logic for Tesla would be that, like in countries such as Japan and Malaysia, the Tesla's electric nature would entitle it to receive rebates from the government due to the vehicle being non-polluting. In fact, our government does have such a system, which offers subsidises of S$15,000 if you drive a green vehicle.
However, for some reason, Tesla was not granted this subsidy, seriously hurting efforts to sell the cars here. According to the government, Tesla's cars did not meet certain "technical requirements" for the rebate.
Since then, owning a Tesla in Singapore has been just a pipe dream. That is, until a few weeks ago when IT-professional Joe Nguyen managed to get his own Tesla Model S licenced for the Singapore roads.
The real challenge came when he had to liaise with the Land Transport Authority (LTA). "The first few weeks, the car just sat in a warehouse gathering dust while the LTA asked me for lots of paperwork," Nguyen said as he recounts the first roadblock in many to come.
As far as Nguyen was concerned, the simple truth was that the powers that be had not dealt with a Tesla before. Instead of adapting their processes to fit this new kind of car, they would rather turn a blind eye.
"They kept asking for more and more paperwork," Nguyen reveals," They wanted the specs, they wanted a number of different metrics, everything from emissions to the certificate of conformity, which is related to petrol cars and Tesla doesn't have it."
Before Tessie could even hit the road, it spent a good four months in Nguyen's house after it arrived. It couldn't move on its own power since it wasn't licenced so a truck had to be brought in to move the car anytime it needed to go for an inspection.
LTA then referred Nguyen to the Energy Market Authority (EMA), the government agency in charge of powering Singaporean infrastructure. Unfortunately, he was stymied by red tape once more.
”I was told to call them (EMA) so I called them and they thought that I was an importer. And I said, "No, I'm just a normal individual importing a car." And they asked, "Well, how are you charging it?" To which I answered, "Well, it's a three-pinned plug which I plug into a normal socket."
So after these hurdles were cleared Nguyen could finally get his Tesla registered. Except for one small problem - the government would not give Nguyen the S$15,000 rebate that eco-friendly cars normally receive.
"I don't get it, there are no emissions. Then they send out the results from VICOM, stating that the car was consuming 444 watt hour per kilometre. These are not specs that I have seen on Tesla's website, or anywhere else for that matter. And then underneath it, there's a conversion to CO2 emission," Nguyen says.
The CO2 conversion pegged the Tesla squarely in the category of large gas guzzlers. Instead of getting the S$15,000 rebate, Nguyen was charged an extra S$15,000 as tax for a non-fuel efficient car.
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The BMW i3 electric hatchback and i8 plug-in hybrid both qualify for a $30,000 carbon rebate.
"I've given up on getting the money back," he told The Straits Times. "I just want LTA to improve. There is a lot of interest in the Model S."
Commenting on the case, Nanyang Business School adjunct associate professor Zafar Momin said: "Given Singapore's land size, great infrastructure and commitment to sustainability, we would not only have been the perfect test bed for electric vehicles (EVs), but also an ideal market for their wider application and usage.
While we have initiatives and incentives for EVs, we may already have missed the big opportunity to be a leader in EVs as a nation. The Tesla importation case is perhaps indicative of why we may have missed the opportunity."