The first of the Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories has been very popular on the Web and our members have been asking for more. Today, we have another Charged Hong Kong member sharing his story with us. His name is Michael Chan, co-founder of G.Guard (Hong Kong).
Here's our interview below:
Locky Law (LL): We are glad to have Michael with us today for the interview today. Michael is well-known in the car coating industry, for he runs G.Guard (Hong Kong) with his partner Kevin in Hong Kong. And then of course, there was also a grand prize G. Guard sponsored to Charged Hong Kong Rally 2015. Welcome Michael! Thank you for your time!
Michael Chan (MC): Thank you very much indeed for the invitation from Locky, the Charged Hong Kong's Tesla owner group representative, for having me here for one of these interview sessions. I am very grateful that there is an EV-dedicated organization in Hong Kong like Charged HK that has contributed to the EV community and EV growth in Hong Kong in many significant ways, and I would love to help out in any way possible!
LL: Thank you for introducing me too, Michael. I have just finished listening to your RTHK 3 interview and your Commercial Radio 903 interview by the famous Hong Kong actress and host “DoDo” Carol Cheng, who happens to be a huge fan of Tesla's Autopilot technology, so I dare say I am quite familiar with what you do, but for the benefits of our viewers, would you please tell us a little about your business?
MC: Long story short, coating is undoubtedly becoming one of the “to-do” things upon purchasing a new car nowadays. There are already many competent car coating companies in Hong Kong before we started so we took our time and did our research thoroughly before entering this market. We feel that most (if not all) of the current car coating companies apply their coating by hand and we wanted to find something else that has an edge over this application method, as there is no point in starting a new company that has the same technology as everyone else. In the end, we chose G.Guard that originated from Japan because of its ground-breaking penetrative coating technique and its unique application by spray guns.
LL: So, how does G.Guard differ from other 9H coatings?
MC: The G.Guard penetrative glass coating provides your car with an in-depth protection, as we do not only take care of the car surface but also the paint layer underneath that is normally neglected. We apply our coating by our specialised spray guns rather than the more traditional hand-application. Our research shows that penetration into the paint surface is vital in order to increase both the strength and substantiality of the top coat. This was exactly the edge and difference that we were looking for from the get-go. DoDo Cheng was actually very impressed with the end-result of our coating as she has previously done similar sort of treatment elsewhere but didn't have the "wow" factor back then when she collected her car.
LL: Well, she will probably visit your shop in the future, hopefully in her new Tesla. Anyway, how did you get into this car coating business in the first place? Because from the two interviews I mentioned, I do know that you actually hold 4 law degrees, in which 3 of them are in LLMs (Master of Laws)!
MC: Kevin, my business partner, studied Chemistry in Oxford and yes, I have 4 law degrees from the UK, China and Hong Kong respectively. We met when we studied boarding school together in the UK when we were very young. More importantly, we are car lovers and car coating is basically applying chemistry onto a car and that’s why it seems to be a perfect combination of Kevin’s specialty and my interest. Besides, car coating is still a relatively new service here in Hong Kong with growing demand, that’s why we decided to start exploring this industry which has a huge potential market. As Kevin studied Chemistry at Oxford, this gives us an edge on fully understanding the chemistry behind coating and how it works in general.
LL: So why should I have my car coated?
MC: The primary purpose of glass coating is to act as a sacrificial barrier over the surface of your vehicle’s paint, while having its water-repellent properties and maintaining the level of glossiness. When there are contaminants that come into contact with the coating surface, it first has to get past all the layers of our glass coating before reaching the paint surface. It could be said that when your vehicle’s paint is under attack, the layers of glass coating sacrifices itself to protect your car.
LL: And you know this question because I have asked you before on LINE group, but, have you ever tried through a stone at high speed at a coated car body part? Because I have a paint chipped on my frunk cover now simply because a tennis ball-sized rock once hit it at high speed right outside Victoria Park on Island East Corridor.
MC: I get asked this question a lot by many prospective or current customers. Let's put it this way, silicon oxide [SiO2], or more commonly known as glass or glass coating, is not able to 100% deflect or protect from stone chip hits. You have to understand that our top coat will be the first point of contact when the stone chip hits your paint lacquer surface. This means our coating will “sacrifice” itself to protect from the incoming hit in the first place, but if the impact is very significant, say you are driving at 100km/h and a big stone hits your frunk, it is relatively difficult for coating to completely 100% protect your paint from the damage. That being said, a majority of our customers do say our coating does protect against smaller chips as we may simply polish off those small chip areas and the paint will look new again. So there is a yes, and a no in this answer. We always remind our customers that, in all truthful terms, the major purpose of having coating is for the paint to look and REMAIN looking shiny for a significant duration of time, while having its water-repellent properties for the ease of cleaning, washing and maintaining on a daily basis. Protection against stone chips is one of the minor things that our coating may protect against, but that is not 100%. I hope this clears up many of the queries that I know are present out there.
LL: I see. Now let’s say I have enough money to have my Tesla Model S coated, how many days do I have to miss my car before I can pick it up again?
MC: The whole coating process will take a minimum of 12 hours, and this increases by the different layers that our customer chooses, but as a general rule of thumb, we strongly recommend you to leave your car with us for at least 3 days. The reason for the length of time required is for the coating to settle completely under a closed ventilated area without any contaminants from outside air in order to reach the optimum quality.
LL: Right. I would surely miss my car a lot. Okay, let’s get personal. How many cars have you ever owned and how many do you still own now?
MC: My family currently has 3 cars: a Tesla Model S, a Jaguar XJL and a Toyota Alphard. My first car was a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX (Jackie Chan Limited Edition) and I got it when I was 18 in Hong Kong! It was one of my dream cars since young when you play those racing games on TV consoles, one of the main choices is almost definitely Evo. I was still studying in the UK back then so I only get to drive the car during holidays when I come back, but I have owned it for about 9 years until I came back to HK for good. Shortly after selling the Evo, I bought a Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG, which was technically labelled as the European Evo due to its unprecedented 2.0L engine that pushes out relatively big horses coming from Benz.
LL: And does your Tesla Model S mean anything special to you? Like, why this car? What’s so special about it?
MC: This is relatively long story but I will keep it short here. My dad has always been an EV fan as he once had his factory that manufactures EVs for 3rd world countries. He has always wanted to get a Tesla Roadster back in the days but it was relatively difficult to get one and then get it licensed in Hong Kong many, many years ago. When he saw Tesla having their own brand in HK, this goes without saying hyped up his desire to get a Tesla immediately. That was why we got a Model S. I personally think that EVs are definitely the future. Many brands such as Benz, BMW, Porsche are all beginning to make concept EVs which hints towards a cleaner future, and we would like to take part in this future as soon as possible!
LL: Nice! Next question is on EV charging. I doubt you have any problems with charging, since you can install charger at your shop easily, right? Then I believe that parking won’t be a problem for you either? Just park inside your workshop?
MC: When I first purchased the Model S, I was debating whether to install the charger at G.Guard or at my home (both were possible). In the end, I chose to install it at home as that’s where the car will be most of the time!
LL: How long do you think you’ll keep this car before getting a new one, and what will be your next car?
MC: I’m not sure how long I will be keeping this car for at the moment. It is likely that I may go with the RVG if I am able to keep within the mileage limit but we will have to see where this goes in 3 years’ time. Plus I’m sure Tesla will be introducing new models at a more frequent basis and I am looking forward to how the Model 3 will look! My next car that I have currently on order is an ICE from a German brand, so I’d better not mention it here to stir up controversies, haha.
LL: Finally, is there anything else you would like to tell our members and future EV owners?
MC: I know many Charged HK members have already had their cars coated with us during the past few months so a massive "thank you" to those who have shown your support to G.Guard. We appreciate it greatly, which is why we are offering a flat 10% off on all of our coating packages to Charged HK members to show our support to the EV community in Hong Kong. Do visit our Facebook page for more information.
LL: Thank you, on behalf of all Charged Hong Kong members. Well, that’s about all the time we have for the interview today. Thanks Michael, once again for all your support to Charged Hong Kong.
MC: You are welcome. Looking forward to seeing many of you guys very soon!