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How Political Greed & Hypocrisy Blocked Tesla Here

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Hi folks read this and weep.  This is political greed and bureaucracy at its very worst. Well Done PAP!!!!





Few cars in memory have generated the kind of buzz that Tesla's electric cars have made.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2008 with the Tesla Roadster electric sports-car, the California-based car maker has become a byword for showcasing the potential of electric cars in an internal combustion engine dominated world. 

Tesla's follow up to the Roadster, the Model S sedan is considered by many to be one of the best four-door cars in the world right now. With its killer looks, great ride, futuristic tech and an electric motor that produces basically zero emissions, you would expect the Model S to be selling like hotcakes in a country like Singapore.

So why aren't they? Well, the answer is quite complicated.

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.

We sat down and spoke to Nguyen about the nearly year-long battle against a quagmire of red tape and bureaucracy that he had to go through to drive his beloved Model S, which his son nicknamed, Tessie.



Powered by electricity

Tessie's journey began not in Singapore, but in Hong Kong, where Nguyen purchased the 2014 model S.

"It's the future of cars. It's green, quick and the perfect car for Singapore," he said.

Until a few years ago, in a country where cars rely on fossil fuel and engines have gotten better and more efficient, electric cars were just not viable. The core physics, that of a mixture of ignited air and fuel driving pistons and a drivetrain to create motion, has not.

Electric cars are a different beast entirely. Instead of using fossil fuels to drive an engine, they use electricity, stored in large battery banks in the chassis of the car to power electric motors. Cars like the Tesla Model S often only have one moving part, the driveshaft. Since there are no fossil fuels, there is no combustion, which translates to the absence of harmful gas.

The downside here is one that owners of smartphones are familiar with - recharging the battery. An electric car is no different. But just like a smartphone, a single charge can go a long way.

"You don't drive very far in Singapore. The range on a Tesla is 380 kilometres which, on a full charge, is more than enough for Singapore. You go home after work and just plug it in. The next morning you wake up, it's fully charged," Nguyen says.

Tessie, come home

Getting the car into Singapore, Nguyen reveals, was the easy part. "You take the car, put it onto a ship and then bring it down. When it arrives, you pay the customs duties on it and that's that. I thought that would be the end of it but in fact, that's when the whole process starts."

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."

So, what now?

Read more at http://www.stuff.tv/...3B3MZezzfx0C.99



Rolling out the red tape

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."

After more weeks of silence, Nguyen was abruptly told by LTA that he had to take his car down to VICOM, to get it tested for emissions. For Nguyen, this was finally some good news because being electric his car would have no emissions and therefore face no problems with an emission test. The end was seemingly in sight.

More weeks of waiting for Tessie

What was supposed to be a few days turned into a two month ordeal as VICOM put testing the Tesla on hold.

"I figured they had a process for electric cars because there are actual electric cars in Singapore, there's the Nissan Leaf, RND cars, there's Mitsubishi electric cars. But since my Tesla was not brand new, it had to go to VICOM and they admitted that they had never tested an electric car before so they did not know how to proceed."

Eventually, the LTA and VICOM settled on a discharge test to see how much electricity the car consumes and what impact that has on emissions. This process again took weeks longer than it should because instead of charging the car continuously overnight, VICOM turned it on sporadically throughout the day.

When this was done, Nguyen says that LTA told him that, "Well, we need you to sign a declaration that you will not charge using the public infrastructure. You will only charge this car at home. They were afraid I would charge the car in a public place."

So the car was finally road-ready, yet there was still time for another twist in the tale...

Read more at http://www.stuff.tv/...M34TddEDylhO.99




No (rebate) love for Tessie

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.

Nguyen rebuts these claims, citing that according to the US EPA, the Tesla only does 237 watt hour per kilometre and his attempts at presenting this to the powers that be were futile.

In fact, if one checks, a Tesla Model S does about 90 miles per gallon in converted fuel efficiency according to the US EPA. On the other hand, a Toyota Corolla, long held as one of the most fuel efficient cars in the world gets about 32 miles per gallon.

The difference really is staggering.

Tessie on the road

"Just before Chinese New Year LTA sent me a letter that said, you know, this is what it was, and this is what I have to pay," Nyugen said.

He bit the bullet, forked out the cash and today, is most likely the driver of the only legally licenced Tesla in the whole country.

This process though, has made Nguyen something of an advocate for electric cars in Singapore and he has been working to convince the government of the merit of such cars to society. Only time will tell though, if his efforts bear fruit.

In the meantime though, if you see a white Tesla Model S on the streets of Singapore, you probably know who is driving it and could get some good advice on owning this electric unicorn here.


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