Be prepared for these roadblocks if you want to drive a Tesla in Singapore

Update: Elon Musk weighs in via Twitter on one man's struggle to bring a Tesla into Singapore

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.

Update 8 March: Since this story broke, all eyes are on the viability and roadblocks in getting a Tesla electric car certified in Singapore. Social media was abuzz with people throwing bricks at the local authorities for the red tape, and it seemed unlikely that anything will be done.

Until Tesla's head honcho Elon Musk replied to a Twitter user @Astro_Valdric, confirming that Musk himself has spoke to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 4 March.



Well, at least that's some progress in the right direction.