UN body on Tesla: Singapore likely to be only nation factoring carbon emission from grid for EVs

That said, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) appears to have applied the R101 standard correctly, says the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.
Kevin Kwang Channel NewsAsia 10 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) appears to have applied the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) R101 correctly when assessing the carbon emission of a used Tesla Model S recently, said Mr Jean Rodriguez, Chief of the Information Unit at UNECE.

However, LTA also appears to be the only national regulator to have included power grid emission into the evaluation of electric vehicles’ (EVs) carbon footprint, he added.

In response to queries from Channel NewsAsia, Mr Rodriguez said in an email that R101 only specifies the way to measure the energy consumption of the vehicle, or “tank-to-wheel”.

The LTA had stated that the electric energy consumption of the imported used Tesla car was 444Wh/km. In a statement on Thursday, LTA confirmed that if the car was brand new, it would have enjoyed a rebate with the energy consumption rating of 181Wh/km.

However, Mr Joe Nguyen, the owner of the Tesla Model S in Singapore, had to pay a S$15,000 tax for having a non-fuel-efficient car instead.

Mr Nguyen had earlier questioned if LTA had applied R101 correctly. He said that R101 has nothing to do with CO2 emissions, and was why European countries “do not penalise EVs for CO2 as Singapore does”.

“CO2 testing is only for vehicles that actually emit gases; EVs have no engine and no tailpipe. Even trying to conduct an emissions test is a pure waste of time and money,” he said in an email.

As for the 0.5g CO2/Wh grid emission factor applied by the regulator, Mr Rodriguez said this refers to “well-to-wheel” and the rate depends on the means of electricity generation: “As far as we can read in follow-up stories, electricity in Singapore seems to be mostly generated by gas-powered plants, hence this rate looks to be within the range of accepted estimates.”

LTA had earlier clarified that the grid emission factor was to account for CO2 emissions during the electricity generation process, even if there are no tail-pipe emissions.

Mr Nguyen, an IT executive, had argued that this rationale from LTA appeared to be “logical at first”. However, when the regulator told him to declare that he will only charge his car at home and not at a public charging infrastructure, there appeared to be a double taxation issue at play. “I am already paying for any electrical distribution CO2 surcharge when I pay my electricity bill every month,” he said. “You would not charge someone CO2 emissions for owning an iPhone that they charge at home, would you?”

"LOGICAL"TO APPLY TO ALL VEHICLES

Mr Rodriguez said Singapore appears to be the only national regulator to have included power grid emission into its evaluation process. “We are not aware that this is currently applied in other countries,” he said, adding that such criterion is up to the national authorities to decide.

He did note that Singapore is not one of the contracting parties to the 1958 Agreement ratifying the harmonisation of vehicle regulations. Of the 62 countries, only six are from Asia Pacific: Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. “Various countries in the world use our UN regulations as reference in national legislation,” he said.

The UNECE executive added that since Singapore has applied grid emission in its evaluation process, “it would seem logical to use this approach across the board for all vehicles”.

The carbon dioxide emitted from transforming oil into petrol or gasoline is limited, said Mr Rodriguez, and is estimated at approximately 10 per cent of the CO2 generated by the engine when the car runs.

MORE TRANSPARENCY NEEDED: TESLA OWNER

Mr Nguyen said he did not take issue with UNECE standard LTA had adopted, but the lack of transparency on both its application and method of testing EVs.

“There is no documentation to be found on the process for electric vehicles. The UNECE Regulation is not mentioned and how it is applied. The correlation chart between power consumption and CO2 is not published anywhere. The equipment VICOM (which tested the Tesla) uses to measure is not documented anywhere. There is little to no transparency,” the IT executive said.

Tesla founder Elon Musk said that he had contacted Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after Channel NewsAsia first reported on LTA’s clarification regarding how EVs are evaluated. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office had also confirmed that the conversation took place and that various agencies were looking into the matter, while the LTA on Thursday also confirmed that it and the VICOM Emission Test Laboratory are working with Tesla engineers to look further into this case.

In response to queries from Channel NewsAsia, Tesla confirmed that it was having "cooperative discussions with the LTA to ensure a proper understanding of these issues and to make sure that they are correctly testing our customer’s Model S".

"Based on the positive nature of those discussions, we are confident that this situation will be resolved soon," they added.

Mr Musk’s Tesla factory had been one of the places Mr Lee visited in his trip to the United States’ Silicon Valley in February, sparking hopes that the carmaker would return to these shores. The company had pulled out from Singapore in 2011, six months into its entry, due to poor sales and not getting the tax breaks it was hoping to for. It currently has stores in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and China, according to its website.

Mr Nguyen also called on LTA to rethink its stance towards EVs. “LTA can take this as a criticism, or it can take this as an opportunity to really think about the future of EV and/or fuel cell transport, and how it should play a leading role rather than devolving into a bureaucratic swamp.

“They need to clearly document their standards and their processes and work with other governments to see how things are done elsewhere,” he said.

- CNA/av


Tesla car hit with S$15k surcharge ‘as it was used, not emissions-free’
Today Online 11 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE — Stressing that electric cars are not “carbon emissions-free”, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has explained why a second-hand Tesla purchased by a man here was hit with a hefty emissions surcharge, pointing out that had it been brand new, it would have earned a rebate.

Noting that the car in question — a Tesla Model S — was first registered in Hong Kong in 2014, the LTA said that the emissions and fuel efficiency of a used car can “vary significantly” depending on how it was previously driven and maintained.

Nonetheless, the LTA, together with VICOM Emission Test Laboratory (VeTL), will be working with Tesla engineers to look into testing processes for electric cars.

Last week, Mr Joe Nguyen made headlines when he recounted his journey of importing a used Tesla Model S into Singapore. He questioned why the car, touted as more environmentally friendly, instead left him with a S$15,000 charge for its being a non-fuel-efficient car.

The incident caught the eye of Tesla founder Elon Musk, who reached out to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the matter. In turn, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office said various agencies were looking into the issue.

In a statement on Thursday (March 10), the LTA said that while electric cars may not produce emissions from the tailpipe like conventional cars, they take electrical power from the national power grid which produces the electricity by burning fuel. This produces carbon emissions in the process.

The Tesla in question would have had an energy consumption rating of 181 watt-hour per km when it left the Tesla factory on June 28, 2014, putting it in the A1 band of the Carbon Emissions Vehicle Scheme (CEVS), and qualifying it for a rebate. A car in the A1 band qualifies for a rebate of S$30,000.

But when the LTA put the used car to the test at the VeTL, it was found to have an electrical energy consumption of 444 watt-hour per km.

Using an emissions factor commonly applied to electric and plug-in electric hybrid cars, the car showed a carbon emissions level that placed it in the CEVS C3 band — racking up a surcharge of S$15,000.

A used car, said the LTA, must be subjected to emissions and fuel efficiency tests as the authority would not know how much its condition might have deteriorated over time.

“We cannot make exceptions as it would not be fair to other car owners, and would have an impact on our environment-related policies,” said the LTA.

When contacted, Mr Nguyen, 44, who works at an Internet research firm, maintained that he welcomed a re-test of his car under “proper supervision”.

Noting that the car had an energy consumption rating of 181 watt-hour per km when it left the Tesla factory in 2014, he said: “It is very unlikely that a 1.5 year-old car with 1,000km will lose that kind of efficiency.”

Mr Jean Rodriguez, chief of the Information Unit at United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) — whose R101 standards the LTA adopted to test Mr Nguyen’s car — told Channel NewsAsia that the LTA appears to be the only national regulator to have included power grid emission when evaluating the carbon footprint of electric vehicles.

As for the LTA’s application of the R101 standard, Mr Rodriguez said it appeared correct, but noted that it only specifies how to measure the energy consumption of the vehicle.

On the other hand, the emissions factor used by the LTA, which is 0.5g CO2 per watt-hour, depends on the means of electricity generation. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AMANDA LEE


LTA explains test results of imported Tesla car, says to relook case
AsiaOne 10 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE - The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is in discussion with car maker Tesla after the owner of an imported used Tesla Model S said he was charged $15,000 in carbon surcharge.

In a statement on Thursday, LTA said that emissions and fuel efficiency of used cars can vary significantly depending on their prevailing condition.

The Model S imported by IT professional Joe Nguyen was first registered in Hong Kong in 2014.

Based on tests run by VICOM Emission Test Laboratory (VeTL), Mr Nguyen's used Model S had an electrical energy consumption of 444 Wh/km, LTA said.

An emissions factor of 0.5g CO2/Wh was then applied. This emissions factor, which is based on data provided by the Energy Market Authority, is consistently applied to electric and plug-in electric hybrid cars to account for the carbon emissions produced when the car is being charged.

The outcome showed a carbon emissions level which placed Mr Nguyen's car in the C3 surcharge band under the Carbon Emissions Vehicle Scheme (CEVS).

The authority also clarified that electric cars are not carbon emissions free. "They may not produce emissions from the tailpipe like conventional cars, but they take electrical power from the national power grid which has to burn fuel to produce the electricity, and in the process produces carbon emissions," a spokesperson said.

According to Tesla, the energy consumption rating for Mr Nguyen's Model S was 181 Wh/km when it left the Tesla factory on June 28, 2014.

While a brand new Tesla Model S would have fallen into the CEVS A1 band, and enjoyed a rebate, Mr Nguyen's car is not brand new and was thus subject to emissions and fuel efficiency tests.

"We cannot make exceptions as it would not be fair to other car owners, and would have an impact on our environment-related policies," LTA said.

However, LTA said it will be working with Tesla engineers to re-examine the case.


Singapore's first Tesla Model S is now a mini-celebrity
Olivia Chang AsiaOne 10 Mar 16;

Joe Nguyen, the owner of the only Tesla Model S in Singapore had to wait 7 months and paid close to $400,000 to get the fully-electric luxury sedan registered for roads.

He was also hit with a $15,000 carbon tax surcharge, which created outrage in social media circles because the car usually attracts tax breaks in other countries.

He spoke to SPH Razor journalist Olivia Chang about his ordeal undergoing carbon emissions testing when his car produces no direct emissions, and how it was collecting dust in a Viacom workshop because they did not know what to do with it.

Joe shared that the car is now a mini-celebrity and he often sees people whipping out their phones to snap pictures of his car while driving.

The RazorTV team had a chance to experience the to experience the torque of the Tesla S and its awesome acceleration. Watch to find out how Olivia reacts to the rollercoaster ride.

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