According to The Business Times, US-based electric car manufacturer and all-round ambassador of sustainable energy Tesla Motors is planning to make a comeback in Singapore by introducing its cars and charging infrastructure here.
Tesla’s executives have been spotted in town recently to meet up with government representatives, and have also hired recruiting staff in Singapore.
The company is also believed to be undergoing a search for executives who will be working out of its new Central Business District Singapore office.
While they remain rather tight-lipped on the plans, a Tesla spokeswoman told The Business Times: “We believe that Singapore can potentially serve as a beacon city for electric vehicle adoption in South-East Asia – just like what Hong Kong did for the rest of Greater China.”
Tesla’s Previous Roadblocks In Singapore
The announcement of the possibility of Tesla (finally) establishing its presence in Singapore comes as a pleasant surprise, as the company’s history here can only be described to be (pardon the pun) ‘bumpy’.
Earlier in the year, Singapore resident Mr Joe Nguyen was slapped with a hefty $15,000 carbon emissions surcharge for importing a Tesla Model S into Singapore. The Model S is an electric vehicle, and with accordance to LTA’s Carbon Emissions-Based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS) to encourage the use of vehicles with a low emissions footprint, Mr Nguyen was supposed to get $30,000 worth of rebates.
The news was inevitably met with severe backlash, from both fans of electric vehicles and even Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk himself, but LTA came forward to justify the fine, stating that the carbon emissions produced during the charging process, which is linked to the national power grid, was taken into account.
The reasoning was not well taken to, with Mr Jean Rodriguez, Chief of the Information Unit at United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), stating that Singapore’s LTA seems to be “the only national regulator to have included power grid emission into the evaluation of electric vehicles’ carbon footprint”.
To address the issue, LTA promptly issued a statement declaring that it will be looking further into the case, but at the same time reiterating that “[They] cannot make exceptions as it would not be fair to other car owners, and would have an impact on [their] environment-related policies”.
S’pore’s Move Towards ‘Car-Lite’ Is Tesla’s Gateway
The Singapore government’s endorsement of the use of electric vehicles (EVs) has become more apparent in recent months, and it was announced on 30 June that an island-wide electric car-sharing programme will be launched by mid 2017.
In collaboration with BlueSG, a subsidiary of Bollore Group, a French investment and industrial holding group, around 1,000 EVs would be deployed around Singapore, and 2,000 charging points would be installed around the island.
The programme is said to be co-funded by the government.
Said Minister of Transport Khaw Boon Wan, “Pollution from vehicles therefore has an especially adverse impact on the quality of our living environment and our health.”
He was quick to add on, though, that albeit more environmentally-friendly, EVs are “not truly emissions-free” – probably a nod towards the Tesla fiasco.
Last month, HDT Singapore Taxi also announced its plans to push out a fleet of electric taxis to Singapore riders from the first week of September.
The service would be running for 8 years, and is also said to serve LTA and the Economic Development Board (EDB)’s plans to “study the viability and potential that electric vehicle business models in Singapore”.
The concept of ‘car-lite’ is also hanging off the lips of many government officials, and with various moves to get Singaporeans to engage in less fuel-guzzling means of transportation, Tesla’s move is more than timely.
Second Time Lucky?
The impending establishment of a Tesla Singapore office comes as the second time the company is entering the Singapore market, with its previous local office back in 2011 being pulled out a mere 6 months later.
This was due to the lacklustre reception of its Roadster model locally, mostly due to the lack of technology to support EVs, and also subsidies and rebates.
However, it does seem like with the Singapore government’s new stance on EVs and the infrastructure set to line our streets, we could be seeing the long overdue rise of Tesla’s presence locally.
If you want to work under Tesla’s rockstar honcho Elon Musk though, the process might not be that straightforward.
A check on the career portal on Tesla’s website at time of writing doesn’t seem to be indicative of any open positions available in Singapore, but from what we’re guessing, we’d be getting well-acquainted with the company very soon.
For those of you who would rather just enjoy the fruits of Tesla’s employee’s labour, the new Tesla Model 3 (set to be delivered by the end of next year) is available for pre-order for Singapore residents on its website.
This is reported to be the first time Tesla is taking orders from Singapore, with the country being the only South-East Asian market that the Model 3 will be shipped to.
The future is electric for Singapore, and I personally can’t wait to see Tesla be part of it.
Feature Image Credit: forbes.com