Sunday 10 July 2016

Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #009 -- Mr. Raymond Wu

Charged Hong Kong associate member Mr. Raymond Wu is ranked among the world’s top referrers in every round of Tesla Referral Program. He was rewarded with an invitation to the Tesla Model 3 Unveil Event on March 31, 2016 in Hawthorne, California, as well as tickets to the Gigafactory Grand Opening Party, and more!

 Here's our interview below:

Locky Law (LL): Hello viewers! I am super excited to have Raymond here with us today to talk about how he becomes Asia’s Number 1 and one of the world’s best Tesla referrer, who will share his experience riding on the Tesla Model X and the latest Tesla Model 3! Welcome Raymond!

 Raymond Wu (RW): Hello Locky, thanks for inviting me to be part of this interview! I hope you guys would enjoy my sharing! LL: First Raymond, you are very well-known in Hong Kong, probably in the entire Asia too, but for the sake of our world’s audience, please tell us about a little about yourself and your car?

RW: Sure. I live in Hong Kong and I am running a startup business, specializing in coconut oil. Any Tesla owners, ping me and I will give you a special discount. Currently, I own a multi-coat red 85 and it's been a year since I owned it. The first time I learned about Tesla was a California visit during Oct 2014. My friend, who invested in Tesla stock, earned herself a Tesla. That's my first Tesla ride. I was strongly attracted by this car, and eventually paid the deposit on January 2015...Actually I already played with the design studio since November 2014, haha. I love driving this car and I almost drive it everyday.

LL: You know what, I envy all those friends who can drive their EVs every day. I just don’t have the chance. Okay, back to your story of success. As far as I remember, there are 3 rounds of Tesla Referral Program. The first round is a little more complicated because it came in 2 phases: phase 1 has a limit to just 10 referrals, current owner --the referrer, gets HK$10,000 of referral credits and referree gets HK$10,000 off the purchase price of their new Tesla Model S. Then, as quoted from Tesla’s website, “The first person to refer ten friends in each sales region— North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific — will receive a free Model X.” Deadline was till October 31st, 2015. You started slow in this one, am I right? Then you simply went unstoppable! What happened then? Did you win the free Model X?

RW: I didn't participate at all during phase 1. I remembered someone suddenly got 10 referrals in a single day and won the game. I believed that he's from mainland China. However, anyone who referred more than 10 people have the right to buy a fully loaded model X at base price (base price of P90D). I know at least 4 people in Hong Kong achieved this goal.

LL: Ah! What a pity. Then came first round phase 2, which Tesla removed the 10 referral limit, threw in a Tesla Powerwall for every 5 referrals, and I quote again, “the customer who makes the most referrals by the end of October will be invited to swap their current Model S for a fully loaded Ludicrous P90D Model S, for free.” This one was a tough battle between you and Mr. Frank Lee! Everyone in Hong Kong was keeping an eye on that APAC scoreboard on Tesla app till the final day! In the end, you won! Please tell us more and what was the final result again?

RW: This was the time I started to get into the game. At first I just wished to have 5 referrals so I can get the invitation to the gigafactory opening. I started by introducing the car to my friends. Eventually, I started to think, why not sharing this amazing car to all the people on the internet? So I opened a Facebook page, launched a website, and helped people to understand this car and also leave my cell phone number online so that people can text me or call me anytime to ask questions regarding the car. I never imagined that I could move to the first rank! I almost lose to Frank, but on the last day a lot of people which I talked to all rushed in to buy the car! At last I referred more than 80 people. All credits go to Tesla. Most of these people were already interested in the car and I just helped them to understand more of it, listing the pros and cons to them, and provided test rides.

Meet up with top two Tesla referrers of Asia Pacific, Raymond Wu (right) and Frank Lee (left)
Image from Locky's English Playground

LL: And together, you and Frank managed to 164 referrals, that’s 984 tonnes of CO2 saved a year! And above all, you can swap your car for a fully-loaded P90D-L, which is fantastic! When will you get the new car?

RW: Currently I am still happily driving my 85. When you see me driving a P90DL, that's when I get a new car!

LL: I’m sure you can’t resist posting photos of it to your website though. Ok. Let’s talk about round 2. On top of the HK$10,000 referral credits for current owner referrer and HK$10,000 discount for referrees, Tesla added the following: 1) The top referrer in each sales region receive a fully loaded P90DL Model S for free, plus the invitation to model 3 unveiling event, travel expense included 2) 5 leads also gets your grand opening invitation for Tesla’s Gigafactory in April, 3) 10 leads gets you to invitation for model 3 unveiling event. Tell us how you did for this round?

RW: Frank told me he was not interested in round 2, so I thought I was going to win the second round. I actually just continued what I did in first round, helping people to know about the car. However, this time China was doing very strong. The top referrer is from China and he referred 209 while I referred 114. Although I was ranked no 2 in the world, I lose in the region. Despite of that, I still had the chance to attend the model 3 unveiling event! And I was also glad that China market seems to be picking up.

LL: Oh yes, we all want Tesla to do well in China and when they do, China will push renewable energy even harder. Now round 3 ended on April 15th, 2016, this round, there is no referral credits for referrer and has a limit of maximum 3 referrals per current owner, but referrees get HK$8,800 for home charging installation. “One lucky referrer will win a Ludicrous P90D Model X as well as a tour for two of the SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles, including travel and accommodations.” And “five referrers will win a tour for two of the SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles, including travel and accommodations.” This time, there was also no scoreboard for us to keep an eye on. And because of your amazing marketing skill, you decided to help other owners, including me, to get 3 referrals! I’m really curious, why you decided to help others?

RW: I just think that it doesn't hurt to help other people to have a chance to win. Even after the first and second referral program, I still continued to help people to understand this amazing car. Why not help them to save 8,800 while helping my friends to get a chance to win the lucky draw?

LL: Let’s move to the Tesla Model 3 Unveil Event in Hawthorne. You earned those free tickets. Tell me, what was the atmosphere like there?

RW: The atmosphere was so good, everyone was so energetic and seems very excited about the unveiling of the new car! There were a lot of Tesla fanboys there! I can tell that because they all wore Tesla t shirts and Tesla jackets. There was also a Model X on display where everyone got so excited and tried to experience the car. However they didn't allow us to play with the falcon wing door. There was also an area where there were some Macs available for people to preorder their Model 3. A lot of people were busy filling up their information there.

LL: You saw the car with your own eyes, how does it look different from what we see from the photos?

RW: I think the car looks gorgeous. Comparing to the photo, I think the real car created more “wow" effect. You just can't feel the curve simply by looking at the pictures.

LL: Some people talk about the trunk opening. What do you think about that? Is it really a problem? Can you suggest a way to improve on that?

RW: I don't think it's a big problem. It's just like a normal trunk. Maybe people are so used to the huge trunk of Model S and so used to hatchback. Yes, the trunk size is not ideal, but Elon said the production model will have a bigger trunk and a larger opening, so I don't think it's a factor that we need to worry about. Remember it's a smaller car, so we can't really expect it to have a big trunk. Not to forget, we also have a frunk!

LL: How big is the frunk in this prototype as compared to a the new Model S dual motor with HEPA?
RW: It's bigger. I think it can fit two small hand carry luggage. The model S frunk is getting smaller and smaller, that's a thing that I don't like about.

LL: You then queued up for the test ride of Model 3, how does it feel? What’s the difference from being in a Model S?

RW: The queue was super long. I was number 642 in the queue, and I wasn't able to ride on the Model 3 until 00:20! But while waiting for the test ride, there were two Model X and one Model S available for test ride as well. So I rode on a X twice and on a S once. Ludicrous mode is scary but awesome. Let's get back to Model 3. The test ride itself was great. I still think it look weird without the instrument panel, but i think it takes time to get used to it. I still believe that something similar to HUD would be introduced to Model 3. The overhead glass roof still amazed me even after riding on the model X. Plenty of legroom in the front, and the rear is also spacious, considering it's a smaller car. You don't know how much I want that overhead windshield to be introduced into Model S. In the end, this is just a prototype, I can't wait to see part 2 of the unveiling!!

LL: Let’s talk more about Model X because that will come to Hong Kong first. It’s got a huge overhead panoramic sunroof, Falcon wing doors 3 rows of seats, new auto-door present mechanism. What do you like about it?

RW: The overhead roof is the best thing I like about. The view is fantastic, everyone will love it. The falcon wing door is a hit or miss. Either you will like it or you will hate it. Personally I think it's very cool but I would question about it's reliability. Also it might not be practical in Hong Kong. About the 3rd row seat, at first I think it's not acceptable, because there were not enough leg room (I am 1.75m). But on the other day I got another chance to experience a 7-seater again. This time I found that actually I can make myself enough legroom by moving the second seat forward and straighten up the second seat a bit. Overall I think it's acceptable and comfortable, of course 6 seater would be nicer. The middle seat of second row, however, do not provide enough headroom because of the pillar. Finally let's talk about the auto present. I think it's a cool idea. You approach the car, it will open the door...I couldn't experience it because I didn't have the key fob with me. When you step on the brake, the door will close. So you don't actually need to touch the door at all. Again, don't know if it's practical in Hong Kong. I always think about what if I park at a meter space and just want to refill the meter? Would it open the door for me when I approach the meter just like the door handle of model S will pop out? How much do the door open? Would it slam into the door of the vehicle park beside you? A lot of question raised up in my mind.

LL: Will you feel worried if you were driving the X getting into Hong Kong car parks, say Festival Walk car park for Superchargers?

RW: I am getting more worry. I have already seen people sharing that their falcon wing door hit the beam in the parking lot. The ceiling height of Festival Walk is okay, as you can set to only open halfway. However, I do think that Tesla need to do more before they introduce Model X into Hong Kong, such as adding more sensors.

LL: Oh, I mean the width of the car as compared to the curbed entrance at Festival Walk car park. Because when I drove my Model S there, I think my back wheels went over the curb. The entrance is tight for Model S. Do you think Model X can avoid curb rash there?

RW: I think yes, curb rash can be avoided, you just need to be more careful, and might require some skill. Some car park might be trickier, like the one in Cyberport.

LL: Oh, I definitely need to work on my skills then. How about the Powerwall? I think you will be receiving a few in the future? How big is it and where do you think we can install it? Given that our homes in Hong Kong are mostly quite small.

RW: I don't think Powerwall is useful in Hong Kong. It's huge, much bigger than I thought. It's useful if we have different electricity cost during different time, but we don't have that system in Hong Kong. It might also be useful if you live in houses and can install your own solar panel. I don't think much people in Hong Kong will find Powerwall useful.

LL: Last but not least, as Tesla’s worldclass referrer, what do you think Tesla should do to ensure success in Hong Kong, and other APAC regions like Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore?

RW: They have a huge risk in Hong Kong. Tesla rely heavily on word-of-mouth for its rapid growth, but I think Hong Kong has the worst service satisfaction. We often heard from owners that their car were just sitting in the service centre for a few days for some service that normally just require just a few hours. No loaner car provided. Delivery experiences were not good comparing to the Tesla delivering experience in other countries as well. I think Tesla need to work hard on this part to ensure future success in Hong Kong. As of other regions, I believe Tesla is already planning to enter Taiwan and South Korea. i think government support is the most important key for gaining early success.

LL: Thank you very much Raymond for spending so much time with us today! RW: Thank you again for inviting me to this interview!

Friday 8 July 2016

Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #008 -- Mr. Joe Nguyen

Mr. Joe Nguyen and his Tesla cap
Photo by Linda Nguyen
Singapore's Number 1 Tesla hero Mr. Joe Nguyen is a phenomenal figure at the world's stage. He's a true climate change fighter, sparing no expense in bringing in Singapore's first Tesla Roadster and also Singapore's first Tesla Model S P85. He overcame numerous challenges and paid ridiculous fines. Since then, he has shared his experience in numerous interviews and his story has been circulated around the globe. He was in Hong Kong for the weekend, and he's our guest of Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #008.

Joe (left) kindly accepted my interview invitation at the New Tesla Model S Unveil Event @Pacific Place Hong Kong
Photo by Linda Nguyen

Here's Part 1 of our interview below:

Here're some photos you should see before you watch Part 2 of our interview:
The infamous 444Wh/km
Photo from Joe
VICOM Technician taking off the bumper
Photo from Joe
VICOM Technician found no tailpipe
Photo from Joe
VICOM Technician not knowing what to do with Model S
Photo from Joe
Here's our Part 2 of the interview:


Joe Nguyen's Facebook:

Joe Nguyen's Twitter:

Joe's story on Charged Hong Kong Facebook

Joe's 444Wh/km

Elon replying to Joe over Twitter

Tesla Model S owner protests Singapore's carbon emissions surcharge @CNBC

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

Tesla owner Joe Nguyen opens up about his ordeal @RazorTV

Everyone wants to sit in the one and only Tesla Model S in Singapore @RazorTV

Electric Car Owner Fined $15,000 Because It Causes Too Much Pollution

Singapore Fines Tesla Model S Owner for Excessive Emissions +Car and Driver Magazine

Singapore’s LTA says the Tesla Model S it tested was a used car, hence its low efficiency +Tech in Asia

Singapore’s Penalty for Electric Cars – The First Tesla Model S in Singapore @Alvinology

LTA on Tesla: CO2 emissions for electric cars start at power grid +Channel NewsAsia

Tesla boss calls PM Lee over CO2 surcharge levied on first Model S in Singapore @Straits Times

Thursday 7 July 2016

Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #007 -- Mr. Mark Webb-Johnson

Mark with the Bond girls at the Electric Vehicle Fiesta 2015

Mark Webb-Johnson, arguably Hong Kong's most notable spokesperson for EVs. He has appeared frequently on the media since the very first EV set wheels on Hong Kong soil. The Number 1 go-to person to ask anything about EVs, moderator of Tesla Motor Club forums and now the heart and spine of Charged Hong Kong. He's our guest of Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #007, he's our James Bond, and he's the Charged Hong Kong chairman.
Here's our interview below:

Locky Law (LL): Hello everyone! Today we have our own Charged Hong Kong chairman Mr. Mark Webb-Johnson to appear in Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #007 and talk about his views about EV developments in Hong Kong. So, welcome Mr. Bond, pleased to have you here with us!
Mark Webb-Johnson (MWJ): Great to be a part of this, Locky, and thanks so much for donating your valuable time to get these member stories documented and out there for everyone to see.

LL: You are most welcome! Everyone in Charged Hong Kong wants to contribute to promoting clean air in one way or another. We have previously had 6 heroes in 6 stories and now, Mark, as our chairman and Hong Kong's EV pioneer, you know you will be getting the toughest questions ever. But before I begin to literally torture you with them, please tell us something about yourself.

MWJ: I’m fortunate to have found and married the love of my life Jasmine, and we have three fantastic kids (aged between 7 and 12). Being 50+ years old, I’ve owned a few cars in my time, from a tiny mini in my youth, to my first car in Hong Kong, a Land Rover. Back then I was teaching a lot of scuba diving; we’d load the Land Rover up with petrol driven air compressor, tanks, and gear for five divers, and head north (sometimes off road) to dive the waters off remote Sai Kung beaches. After 10 years with the Land Rover, I traded it in for a Toyota Prius; great technology but lousy performance. After five years with the Prius, I sold that and switched to a Tesla Roadster. My wife drives a Tesla Model S.

LL: Lovely! Let's start with your Tesla Roadster, as I know, you have actually developed some very cool software and hardware for it, could you please tell us what it is and how it works?

MWJ: Back in 2011, myself and two other Roadster owners, Sonny Chen and Michael Stegen, developed an open source telemetry system for the Tesla Roadster called the Open Vehicle Monitoring System (OVMS). This was a small module that plugs into the car. With a 2G cellular modem, it could communicate the state of the car via the Internet to smartphone Apps running on either Android or iOS. The owner can use those Apps to do things like check on battery status, start/stop charges, see the tyre pressures, and get alerts when the charge is interrupted. It is a hobbyist project, and as such can do some pretty cool stuff - like automatically activating your homelink gate opener when the GPS says the car is approaching your home. Since then, the project has been extended to work on the Renault Twizy, Volt/Ampera, and a host of other EVs. Today, the project has a global development team of more than 40 active open source contributors, and has really helped bring smartphone telemetry to EVs that otherwise wouldn’t have it. It is just one part of my life goal of making EVs easy to own and operate.

LL: Few actually know about this, but I remember that in the past, no EVs were allowed to be driven on highways of Hong Kong, and you are the ONE person who sort of single-handedly fought for a change in the legislation and succeeded! So the fact that we can now drive an EV on highway is in fact because of you! Do correct me if I am wrong.

MWJ: I can’t take all the credit, but I certainly pushed hard for it and was likely considered a pain in the neck by many in the transport department at the time. The expressway permit situation does highlight how ridiculously rigid our government’s approach to the legislative process is. At the time, the legislation (CAP374Q) made it illegal to drive on expressways unless your vehicle had an engine bigger than 125cc. Of course, EV’s don’t have engines, so owners had to apply for individual exemption (expressway permits). The transport department had ignored the situation for years, completely failed to adapt the legislation to the arrival of EVs, and complicated things by imposing an unnecessary bureaucratic burden on the whole expressway permit process. Finally the legislation was changed, but only for private electric vehicles; commercial electric vehicles still require expressway permits to this day. We’re hitting the same issues with overly restrictive legislation and regulation regarding 3rd row child seats, auto-pilot, self-driving, summon, infotainment, etc. Our Transport Department still refuses to be proactive in anticipating support for emerging technologies; the reactive approach they adopt merely serves to delay each new technology by years (or decades in some cases).

LL: As we all know, some people who are skeptical about EVs will always ask challenging questions. The first one will be about battery degradation. Some claims that battery degradation happens exponentially, so say first year 5%, then next year will be 15%, then by 3rd year maybe 50%, so an EV will have to replace battery every 4 to 5 years, which is a very short lifespan compared to ICE, according to some research. How far do you agree with this?

MWJ: I hear this often, and it is pure mis-information that ignores the differences in battery technology. Simply put, you can make a battery that stores a huge amount of power in a small space, or you can make one that last a long time, but you can’t have both. It is a trade-off. That is the reason why cell phone batteries last a relatively short time, but electric vehicle batteries are made from cell chemistries designed to last. From my own point of view, I’ve been driving my Tesla Roadster for about 5 years and have put more than 50,000km on it. My battery is today 92% the capacity it was 5 years ago - so 8% capacity loss in 5 years, 50,000km, and the degradation has been pretty much linear. I expect the battery in my car to be good for many years to come. With a larger data set, Plug In America conducted a long-term study of hundreds of Tesla Roadsters, and came up with the conclusion that on average, a Roadster battery pack will have between 80% and 85% of original capacity after 160,000km. Those figures compare very favourably with Internal Combustion Engine vehicles.

LL: So EVs batteries actually do have a very long lifespan, that’s great news for all EV owners. Next claim, and we get this a lot. "EVs are not environmentally-friendly because it uses lithium which needs to be mined. When people throw away these batteries, it will pollute the environment."
MWJ: It is laughable that the very same people who complain that Lithium batteries are so expensive also say that they will be discarded and will pollute the environment. The truth is that the Lithium Ion batteries are (a) categorised as non-toxic, (b) recyclable, and (c) valuable. Every EV manufacturer is introducing programs to collect back these batteries at end-of-life and recycle or repurpose them for other uses.

LL: This one continues on lithium battery. Some say “Lithium is highly flammable, so it is very dangerous to use it in car batteries. There has been several reports of EV burning up in flame!” Seems like we need to show some numbers in this one.

MWJ: Batteries, hydrogen, petrol, diesel, whatever; it is all about storing large amounts of energy in as small and light a place as possible. Different fuels have different energy densities. For example, Uranium is at the high end, storing 80,620,000 MJ/kg. Hydrogen (at 700 times atmospheric pressure) is 142 MJ/kg. Diesel 48 MJ/kg. Petrol 46 MJ/kg. Down to rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries at less than 1 MJ/kg. Google ‘energy density’ for more information on this. So you can see that when releasing this energy (fire/explosion), for the same amount of fuel, a Petrol fire is going to release more than 46 times the amount of energy than a Lithium Ion battery fire. The other point to think about is flammability - how easy it is to ignite that release of energy. The truth is that Lithium Ion batteries store less energy than petrol fuel tanks, are harder to ignite, and they release that energy slower and in a more controlled manner. Each year in USA there are more than a hundred thousand Internal Combustion Engine vehicle fires, causing hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. By comparison, there have been just a handful of Electric Vehicle battery fires, ever. The difference is that whenever an EV is crashed at 100 Mph, ripped into two, impaled against a building and the shattered remnants suffer a small controlled fire, it is shown on every news channel. When the same thing happens to a petrol car, a hundred thousands times a year, nobody says anything unless there is a celebrity inside. For those who think petrol cars are safer, I invite you to sit on top of an open petrol tank holding a naked flame, while I do the same for a Lithium Ion battery.

LL: Haha! That’s a wonderful example, and funny! Next one. Again, very common one. "If we EV owners strip down the whole EV and calculate each piece of material's carbon footprint during manufacturing and transportation to their destination, we will see that EV actually isn't green." What do you think?

MWJ: In the same way that an EV is greener than a comparable petrol car, a bicycle is greener than an EV. But even a bicycle is not green. There have been several recent studies comparing cradle-to-grave lifecycles of EVs versus petrol cars. For example, have a look at the well respected Union of Concerned Scientists 2015 report and their conclusions: “Electric vehicles already result in far less climate pollution than their gas-powered counterparts, and they’re getting cleaner. Optimizing EV production and the disposal or reuse of batteries could further increase their environmental benefits. And as electricity becomes cleaner -- which it is, the difference between electric cars and gasoline cars will only grow—cementing the role of electric vehicles in halving U.S. oil use and cutting global warming emissions.”


LL: Alright! Next statement goes "The electricity EVs use for charging are mostly from fossil fuels, so promoting EVs in Hong Kong is pointless. Promoting EVs in China is a nightmare!"

MWJ: An EV powered 100% from electricity generated from coal is still cleaner (less total emissions well-to-wheel) than one powered by petrol. Do you know how much electricity it takes just to refine petrol from crude oil? I can drive my EV further on just the electricity it takes to refine one litre of petrol than an equivalent petrol car, and that ignores all the other aspects. And where does the electricity for the refinement come from? The same power plants. Look at a picture of an oil refinery and you’ll see huge power lines coming in, leading to an electricity sub-station. Sure, we need to improve our electricity generation, and that is happening. The Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong publishes a great chart showing 20+ years of electricity generation in Hong Kong. During that time the amount of electricity generated almost doubled (increased population, increased consumption), while the pollutants released during that generation: NOx, RSP, SO2, etc, were reduced to below 20% of their 1990’s levels. The reason for this is that it is easy to regulate and control a handful of large power plants in fixed locations. It is much harder to control a million little petrol engines spread around the roads of Hong Kong. The government is also working hard on long-term improvements to the fuel mix in our electricity generation. So an EV here today pollutes 1/10th that of the exact same EV twenty years ago, and the same cannot be said for a petrol or diesel vehicle. What we can say for sure is that over the coming years, the EV we drive in Hong Kong will get cleaner and cleaner.

LL: Agree! I think people should stop thinking that the fuel they use for their ICE is step 1: dig it out from the ground and step 2: pump it to your ICE’s fuel tank. Oil drilling is well-known for its eco-damage and oil refining is a huge, huge energy consuming process, a fact that oil companies do not want the public to know or admit.

LL: Mark, how are we doing? Do we need a break?

MWJ: No, I’m fine, but I can hear the Internet trolls champing at the bit… I hope the answers I’m giving are helpful for our community to answer back.

Mark's Tesla Roadster

LL: Brilliant! Now, bringing our focus back to Hong Kong again. This one’s on you. You own a Tesla Roadster, you own a Tesla Model S, you have ordered a Tesla Model X, you have reserved a Tesla Model 3. That puts you in the "Rich Man" category. You have more cars than you need, therefore you have many "Rich Man's Toys"

MWJ: Not quite. I have more cars on order than I need, not yet delivered. I live in a remote area, with very limited public transport, and work literally on the opposite side of Hong Kong. By public transport, my daily two-way commute would be 3 to 4 hours, while by private car is it about 1 hour. I drive the roadster and my wife drives our Model S. By the time the X is delivered in Hong Kong, my roadster will be almost six years old. It is fantastic thrill to drive, but with 3 kids it is time to give it up for something more practical, so I plan to trade it in for the X. I’ll drive the S and my wife will drive the X. Then, in 3 to 4 years when the Model 3 arrives, my plan is to trade in the Model S for that. That’s the current plan, but who knows - circumstances and requirements change and 3 years is a long time in the world of EVs. What I do know is that two EVs is perfect for my family, and I hope to never purchase a petrol car again in my life.

LL: So you are a “Rich Man”, but your cars are just not your “Toys”?

MWJ: When I first heard that “Rich Man’s Toys” statement, referring to EVs and the first registration tax exemption, I felt insulted. There I was, driving my EV every day, clocking up 10,000km/year with zero emissions on the road, and these ‘representatives’ stand up in the legislative council, knowingly lie, and have the gall to insult those trying to make a difference. Like someone puffing on a cigarette, blowing smoke in your eyes, and complaining about people giving up smoking. These ‘representatives’, taking home HK$93k/month base salary + expenses + medical + 15% bonuses, claiming to represent the poor. It is nothing short of hypocritical; just trying to score points to get themselves re-elected. Look at the costs of this air pollution. According to the Hong Kong University Hedley study more than 3,000 people here died prematurely last year, and 150,000 were hospitalized, due to air pollution related illnesses. In just one year, almost HK$40billion in medical bills and loss of productivity. Rich or poor, we all breath the same air.

LL: That’s crystal clear! Next claim is, "if more people in Hong Kong, or any other places, are switching to EVs, then we are just creating more and more unwanted cars which just pile up the dump sites."

MWJ: The goal is to replace the petrol and diesel vehicle fleet with electric vehicles, not to increase the number of vehicles on the road. Everything eventually ends up back in the ground - better that than in the atmosphere or in our lungs.

LL: But then they’ll say, maybe some people can afford 2 cars, or 3 cars or 10 cars in their garage, then how does owning an EV help the air quality for these owners?

MWJ: I know EV drivers in Hong Kong who purchased an EV as their first car - hopefully they will never have to drive anything other than EV. Others have switched their petrol car to an EV. And, yes, a small minority have no doubt bought an EV to add to their stable of Ferraris and Maseratis. But, to me, it is really simple. Better a rich person buys an EV than a Hummer. Rich, poor, it makes no difference; we will all benefit from improved air quality. We need to lead the way to displace the tailpipe polluting personal vehicles and replace them with emission-free EVs. Then, the commercial vehicles will follow, as will public transport. Every time an EV driver shows his car in public, or takes friends or colleagues for a trip, he is demonstrating that these vehicles work. Not toys, but real practical daily driver vehicles. And that is huge.

LL: Yes, and when such owners do drive their EVs instead of their ICEs that day, then they are contributing less emission that day. One person can't drive two cars at the same time, right? This is one of the latest. The Tesla Autopilot. There have been many demonstrations of the use of Tesla Autopilot caught on videos around the world, some correctly, some not. Even after the latest update, which basically does a few things 1) restricts the Autopilot to be usable only on certain highways in Hong Kong 2) at restricted speed 3) requires the driver to hold the steering wheel at all time, people still want to test the software's limits by going beyond what the instructions have stated. Now of course, this version of Autopilot is only approved by the Transport Department of Hong Kong after months of rigorous testing while working closely with Tesla HK engineers. What are your views on this? Are these daring testers right to perform their heroic act? Because their claim is mostly that they are doing it for the rest of the owners who are unaware of the potential danger and they are the ones helping to prevent accidents.

MWJ: I think that we, as a community, need to be very careful with what we say or do. The press, in general, love negative stories. Sexy catchy headlines that drive page views. I try to put forward the positives in everything I do, not the negatives. What these ‘testers’ are ignoring is the fact that this is a driver assistance feature, not a self-driving car. If an airline pilot sets his autopilot to 10,000 feet bearing East, leaves his seat to go to the toilet, and the plane crashes into a mountain of 11,000 feet height, is it the autopilot’s fault, or the plane manufacturer’s? The driver is in control of the vehicle, and it is quite simply his responsibility. The Transport Department’s actions in this matter exceeded the legislative requirements. Such actions were in response to those press stories, and were quite frankly ridiculous. There is already ample legislative control in these matters, and it is counter-productive to impose additional administrative restrictions.

LL: So then, would you agree that, if anyone is truly heroic and wants to really prevent others from accidents, maybe they should just call the car company and arrange engineers and technicians to get into his car, and under the supervision of the professionals, demonstrate what he considers as ‘imperfect’ or ‘problematic’? Because simply doing it in front of the press, as far as I can see, has two problems, 1) you may not be using the Autopilot function correctly in the first place, 2) you might not ever be able to reproduce the same scenario for engineers to work on, so there’s no data for the engineers to enhance the feature.

MWJ: I would see little benefit in going to the press, before even at least discussing the issue with the manufacturer/supplier. Remember that these are opt-in features - if you don’t like them, or don’t consider them safe for your use case, then simply don’t enable them.

LL: That is awesome! This one's on charging etiquette. Some EV owners do occupy the Superchargers way beyond the time needed to full-charge their cars, and I have an acronym for this: SPOT -- Superchargers Parking Over Time. So sometimes some owners waiting in line want to know if these cars are SPOTing, so they go to the Supercharger cable and give it a press on the button. Now, they do that because the car does not show the charging lights and therefore the charging status unless someone give the cable a press on the button. The big question is: To Press, or Not to Press? Because pressing it will temporarily stop the charging, harmless to the car of course, but will also send a message to the owner's phone through the Tesla phone app, which might trigger his return to his car or his annoyance. What do you recommend?

MWJ: I, personally, would not press. I would not interfere with anyone else’s car or charging system. I understand the frustration, but there are always two sides to a story and such actions just cause conflict within the community. I’ve seen people ranting on forums about an EV parked but not charging, for the owner to come back and say that he tried but the charger was broken so he reported it to management. Others have complained about EVs plugged in but not charging, when it turns out that the charger tripped and that particular EV doesn’t have a facility to alert the vehicle owner. There is a well know saying that ‘assumption is the mother of all problems’, and that is oh so true. We’ve got enough problems with ICE cars blocking our charging spots, without fighting amongst ourselves. In my view, it is better to concentrate on the bigger issue of getting these EV spots reserved for charging, and penalties introduced for those violating that (and enforced by the car park management, not community vigilantees). Make sure that we personally only park in charging spots if we need the charge, always plug in (irrespective of whether the charger is working or not), and move our car when the charge is complete or we have sufficient charge. Then, we as a community can work together to educate and encourage our less considerate members to change.

LL: Absolutely! I bet our viewers will definitely follow your advice from now on. So good that you have said it! Just a couple more questions left. EV FRT waiver will end on 31st March 2017. Now, Charged Hong Kong is working hard in so many ways in the hope of increasing the chances of an extension. But almost certainly, some politicians will use "Rich Man's Toy" as an argument against the waiver's renewal. Another argument they might have is, with so much money forgone, they are not seeing significant improvement in air quality, and why should the taxpayers of Hong Kong be, double-quotation marks, "sponsoring" a small group of people to buy their Rich Man's Toys?

MWJ: Let me give you an example. My Tesla Roadster is based on a Lotus Elise, so has a direct comparison. The Lotus Elise was ~HK$400k, including FRT. The Roadster was ~HK$1m, excluding FRT, or more than HK$2m if FRT wasn’t exempted. At the moment EVs are more expensive than petrol cars, and without incentives the fantastic momentum achieved will surely grind to a halt. So, let’s start from the premise that we recognize the problem of poor air quality -- 3,000 deaths, 150,000 hospitalized, HK$40billion in costs, annually, etc. (These figures can be found on Hedley Environmental Index, published by School of Public Health at the Hong Kong University). So, what is causing the pollution and how do we reduce it? The answer of course, at least for roadside pollution, is the commercial vehicles. But, we can’t make much progress there today. The government has been sinking billions into that hole and the results are dismal. Now, in just a few short years of the EVs finally becoming available, and FRT exemption, the people have spoken and the switch has started. Locky, you have the figures - the uptake of EVs is incredible, and we have such amazing momentum. We need to keep a FRT exemption in place to maintain that momentum, at least until the next generation of more affordable EVs with 300km+ range come in 2 to 3 years, at a price point comparable to petrol engine vehicles. In the coming years, it is clear that this progress will then leak over to the commercial fleets. Firstly private transportation services (we’re already seeing Uber and hotel limousines change the EVs), then taxis and commercial delivery vehicles. Eventually, the buses will be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century (first single decker buses and coaches, and finally double deckers). When every other vehicle around you is an EV, it is hard to say they don’t have the range, they are not practical, we can’t charge them, etc.

Mark and family at Tesla Rally 2014

LL: Finally, the last question. Pick a question to ask and answer it by yourself. But if it is not a good question, I will reject it and you'll have to think of another one. Haha!

MWJ: You've covered so much above, this is perhaps the hardest question. One thing I think we could ask is what difference can I make as an individual? The answer to me is that every journey begins with a first step. Everybody needs to make a commitment to themselves for change, then drive that change forward. For me, that commitment is to improve Air Quality. I’m doing that by both personal change :reducing my own energy consumption, as well as switching to sustainable transportation, but also going further to make owning and operating an EV easier for others -- via projects such as OVMS and Charged.HK. I’m driving my EV on the roads of Hong Kong every day, to show it is a practical means of transportation, and having a blast doing it. Because you and I both know that quite apart from the environmental benefits, EVs are simply better vehicles.

LL: That's all! Thank you SO SO much! Mark! Thank you for answering all these tough questions! I think you probably hate me by now?

MWJ: Not at all. You’re doing a fantastic job with these member stories and I look forward to reading what others say.

LL: Thank you! Oh! Oh! Hang on! Almost forgot! Any thoughts about the new Tesla Model S v2.0 which was announced late last night?

Tesla Model S 2.0 - Image from Tesla

MWJ: I’d like to see Tesla focus on getting Model 3 out the door, and improving service and support for their existing products.

LL: Thank you once again! I think we all can save a copy of this and use Mark's answers as reference when we go around EVangelising around the world! We hope to see you again very soon, Mark!

MWJ: Thank you.

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #006 -- Mr. Eric Tang

Eric with his Tesla Model S
In Charged Hong Kong, everyone aims to contribute to a better future of Hong Kong. Some takes a more public approach, others work hard behind the scene. Member Mr. Eric Tang does both.

In this issue of Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #006, he will share with us the motivation behind his SCMP story as well as suggestions for the Hong Kong Government to improve on the situation at car parks.

Here's our interview below:

Locky Law (LL): Hello everybody! Today we have Mr. Eric Tang, a member who contributes quietly and greatly to the EV community by writing numerous emails to car park management and related government department with just one goal in his mind -- improve the situation of non-charging vehicles parked at charging spots in Hong Kong. Welcome Eric, glad to have you with us today!

Eric Tang (ET): Hi Locky, thanks for having me today. As an advocate of EVs and a strong believer of the results EVs will bring to the society, it is my pleasure to participate in various initiatives and work towards a better living environment for everyone in HK. One of the most important factors for EVs in HK to be successful is to have a good public charging infrastructure throughout the city in order to encourage more people to switch from petrol cars to EVs.

LL: So, Eric, let's begin with some standard questions for you. Please tell us something about yourself, your family and your car.

ET: My car is the Model S 85kwh, with the Premium Package and Pano roof in Deep Blue Metallic. I didn’t want to add too many options - not even the AutoPilot Feature. Not that I don’t like the options, but in order for me to keep the car as affordable as possible, I have to gave up some nice non-essential options, such as Smart Air Suspensions, 21” rims and Next Gen seats. It is just a simple non-D / P version. P is just simply out of budget for me and I don’t need the extra speed. For D, it would have been nice to have, but with the longer delivery waiting time and considering that the Dual Motor is not needed practically in HK, as opposed to the snowy weather in colder climates, I have opted for the cheaper 85 RWD model. I have a small family with just my wife, myself and our little puppy. Occasionally I drive my parents around too, so this Model S is great for me to fit all 4 adults comfortably.

LL: I totally love my 60kWh RWD, I think it is more than enough for Hong Kong. So, what do you love about your car most? You are allowed to give multiple answers.

ET: This Model S is the perfect car for me. I love everything about it - Zero Emission, great performance, handling and acceleration. It has one of the best ranges available now for EVs. It is also clean, quiet, cool (as in not hot) but of course it also looks really cool. I can just go on and on about it. Annual license fee is only around 1,000 HKD, which is a lot less than an ICE. The car has no engine and the motor is small so it allows a lot of space for storage and passenger comfort. Last but not least, it has been rated as one of the safest car in the world. There are just too many good things about this car. I am going to pick 3 points. Firstly, my favourite is probably the instant torque acceleration - it is great for uphill and quick overtaking. Second is all the high tech features in the car, for example, using the mobile app to remotely control some functions of the car. It is simply great to turn on the aircon of your car to pre –cool it on a hot day. Third is the large storage space available, the frunk and trunk give me loads of room to store many things.

LL: And you'll definitely need a bigger battery pack than I do, since you live quite far away from the city. While we are on this topic, how often do you drive and where do you normally charge?

ET: I drive almost everyday and I charge it slowly on an ordinary 13 amp plug if it is available at the Olympian City parking lot during work hours. Otherwise, I will use the Medium single phase charger at the Star Ferry Public Car Park if I am low on battery. A typical work day from 9 am to 7 pm can easily get it charged to 100% with Medium single Phase speed (32km per hour). As for slow charging 13 amp (9km per hour), 90km can be charged which is more than enough to cover my round trip journey for a typical work day. Basically, I tend to charge the car whenever possible, even if it is slow charging. For me, one of the major differences for driving an EV instead of ICE is not to let my battery go down to the warning light before topping up, unlike most people driving an ICE, whom will let their fuel tank go down to a very low level before topping it up in one go. I actually find this even better than an ICE because all I need to do is to plug in whenever it is available then my car can recharge the mileage that I just used to get there. If you think about it, in a way it actually saves time.

Eric Tang at Star Ferry Pier Car Park. Photo by Dickson Lee/SCMP

LL: And you see tonnes of ICE problems at these locations, hence that SCMP article of yours. What was the message you wish to convey in that story?

ET: As you see from my answer in the last question, you can see why an EV is actually better than an ICE because you don’t have to detour to visit the smelly petrol station to fill up your tank. What I am trying to say is that apart from all the positive things about EV, one of the most important requirements for EVs to be successful is to have good charging infrastructure everywhere in the city and the Government  must help EV owners to set up either a home or work charger. In Hong Kong, it is especially difficult, as most people are living in apartments, which do not have fixed parking spots. The SCMP story was all about the availability of public charging to EV owners in HK and the message was to urge the Government and car park management to work together quickly to resolve the difficult charging situation in HK. With the growing number of EVs everyday, both parties must now act quickly before it is too late. Ultimately, most of the owners in HK rely solely on public charging networks and they will be the ones who are going to suffer.

LL: So if we happen to be visiting certain car parks and all fast/medium chargers are occupied by non-charging EVs or ICE, what should we do?

ET: You should report it to the car park management and also leave a message on the cars. I have all different messages printed out and ready in my car, so whenever these kinds of situations happen I can just quickly pull out the right message and clip it on to their windscreen wiper. If I have time I will also try to take a photo of the cars and post and share it to different social networks, such as Facebook groups and chat groups to report them.

LL: Well then, do you have a "10 point pitch" for the Government in solving this problem?

ET: The Government should start as a good role model to everyone by making all the charging spots in Government public car parks for charging only. One simple rule they can follow is that whenever there is an ICE or non-charging EV occupying the spot, the car park staff can clamp the car, followed by a fixed penalty. It is actually very easy to implement - the car park staff doesn’t have to remember which car model or brand, they can simply do one quick check on whether a cable is plugged into the car or not during their normal routine check. Just apply the clamp when they see no cable, and no warning is required. Once this is successfully implemented then the Government can set this as a guideline for all other private car parks to follow.
Eric, Model S and puppy at Science Park

LL: Okay. Moving back the focus to Tesla EVs. As we all know, Tesla EVs by far the most popular EVs in Hong Kong, and the growing number is actually both encouraging and for some, worrying. Voices asking for more Superchargers (SC) can always be heard, so, hypothetical situation: where would you choose to have the next Supercharger?

ET: Somewhere in the New Territories and near the airport. Also somewhere with a big open area would be ideal for a SC location with a capacity of more than just 4 stalls. Just like the U.S., perhaps a location just off the highway with 8 to 10 stalls of open area SC, although this may be difficult for HK. However, somewhere near the Gold Coast or north of N.T. could be a good location for some owners around that area. Actually instead of opening up any new location, I think they should really try to expand some of the existing ones. Places such as SP, Olympian City, Panda Place are all extremely busy and all already have the capability to expand.

LL: What Supercharger to Tesla Model S ratio do you think will be adequate for Hong Kong then? 1 to ...?

ET: There are 44 SC stalls in HK now but I’m not sure on the exact number of Tesla’s here. Perhaps 1: 0.3 SC would be adequate in HK, which is quite high ratio. However, this is considering the unique situation for HK which is that most people are without home charging.

LL: And the long term solution is...?

ET: The long term solution is definitely to set up home or work charging. Otherwise, I believe the next long term solution is to properly regulate the charging spots in public car parks so that it is used for charging only and not simply for parking. Furthermore, for all the newly built / renovated parking lots, the developer should consider putting a 13 amp slow charging socket into all the parking spaces and only block a few spots for medium charging only. This kind of setup would be good for everyone as EV owners can just choose to charge slowly when they are not low on battery and not have to worry about the ICE issue since all the spots will have a free plug available. The medium and fast chargers should be properly managed and regulated by the car park management and reserved for charging only. So if anyone is not using it properly - no matter it is an EV or ICE - then the cars should be clamped with a penalty fine.

LL: Tesla Model 3 has just been unveiled on April Fool's day, what do you think about this much anticipated EV?

ET: I think the Model 3 looks great. It looks very much like a Model S but also has a bit of Model X in it too. At USD $35,000, you cannot get a better car than this. It is green, fast and packed with latest technology. This car is going to change the car industry. All the major car makers around the world should be worried now after knowing that Tesla received 320,000 plus reservations in just 1 week. It is a truly remarkable feat. I am so excited about this new EV, not only because of all the good features. I am excited because we are finally seeing the massive support on EVs around the world and with that price tag it is much more affordable for everyone to switch to an environmentally friendly car, which can reduce roadside pollutions.

LL: Will you get Model 3?

ET: Definitely, I have ordered Model 3 online as soon as the site was available before the unveil event.

LL: Last but not least, probably the trickiest question, do you agree with Elon that Hong Kong is really be a "beacon city" for EV?

ET: I do agree with Elon on that. HK is actually similar to some big cities like London, which is packed with buildings and small roads, and is not easy to set up home charging for most apartments. Therefore, if Tesla can be successful in HK and set a good example to everyone else around the world, then surely HK can be a beacon city for EV. Once again, the Government holds the key in making this successful.

LL: Thank you for your sharing, Eric! It has been a pleasure interviewing you!

ET: You are welcome. Locky

Tuesday 5 July 2016

Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #005 -- Mr. Alex Wai

Alex Wai with his Tesla Model S

Alex Wai, a name known to many globally, yet we know so little of him, he tells EV stories of Asia to tens of thousands, yet almost none has told stories of him - he's an international man of mystery, he's the journalist of InsideEVs and he's our guest for today's issue of Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #005!

Here's our interview below:

Locky Law (LL): Hello everyone. We have a very special guest with us today and I am very excited about this interview. I say this because our guest rarely accepts interviews, not because he rejects them, but because he is the one who usually asks others for interviews instead of being asked, that being said, he is probably more famous globally than any of his interviewees! Let's welcome Charged Hong Kong founding member Alex Wai from InsideEVs!

Alex Wai (AW): Well thank you Locky for having me here today. I am actually a rookie when I began writing for InsideEVs but being an EV enthusiast does help in finding the topics that may interest the readers.

LL: Alex, is this your very first time to be interviewed by someone?

AW: I would have to say YES in this format.

LL: Haha! I am honoured! Alex and I are actually do communicate quite a lot because I am one of his biggest fans, so whenever I feel I should be reading a new article by him, I will text him and chase him for new stories.

AW: Thank you actually the honor is mine to have you interview me. I believe you have probably cover more local and now Singapore news with Mr.Joe Nguyen's experience on ChargedHK and your own blog than what I have done in the past year.

Alex at Charged Hong Kong Rally 2015 +Hotel ICON 

LL: Well, that's because I'm less busy than you are. So, Alex, maybe you can share with us what usually keeps you busy in a day?

AW: Where to begin.....I am married and have a son who is turning 3 years old next month so I tired to keep enough family time while not working. After having spend my early career in desktop publishing then into the field of IT, lately I have been primary focusing on managing an Aesthetic Medical Clinic with my wife where she also practice as a doctor consulting patients. The remaining time I have setup my own company wanting to do something related to EV or charging business but that is still idling at the moment as I have not found the right solution and it is too early to tell the market trend for charging. I have also spent much time in contacting different commercial electric vehicle manufacturer and converter in US/Europe to discuss a feasible solution for Hong Kong market but most of the solution are impractical today as many were original developed by government back funding. Unless it can be mass produced, the unit cost could not be justify for daily commercial use. One of the area I have also looked at is electric school bus and have some very preliminary talks with a school about the idea. And of course the remaining time I spend is writing for InsideEVs and participate in ChargedHK events, like the Charged Hong Kong Rally 2015 at Hotel ICON.

Alex Supercharging at Cyberport car park

LL: Of course, about InsideEVs, please tell us a little about it and when you have started writing for InsideEVs ... what you cover.

AW: Early last year, I was looking at different online website about EVs while waiting for my Model S delivery spanning for 9 months period, I came across the InsideEVs website. I have been reading it for many months before I realized they were looking for someone to cover EV news for Asia. At first, I didn't pay much attention about it until I had gained deeper knowledge about EV technology then thought I could try something new and take up the challenge in covering stories for the site. So I wrote to the editor and that's how I joined their team.

LL: So basically, you started writing about EVs before you've got your own EV. What's so fascinating about EVs in your opinions?

AW: Yes, before I took delivery of my Model S. One of the things that fascinate me the most is how insanely fast (Or I should say Ludicrous) this industry is evolving. I very much enjoy learning the latest technology and trends so I guess this is why this new industry has caught my attention. I am more into battery, motor and inverter technology than the car itself.

LL: And I know you own 2 Tesla Model S? Why Tesla Model S? Could you please share its configurations with us and tell us why you choose this model?

AW: I spent almost 6 months in doing research before deciding to place deposit on my first Model S P85D. Besides all the cool features the driving range was the key factor I chose it over other brands. Technically I also like how the battery pack is designed to be swapable. This gave me confidence that I could keep this car for a very long time if I choose to and allows me to upgrade in both software and hardware. Many of the other brands have limited driving range and some were design around their ICE model family that technically forbids you to upgrade even if the manufacturer wants to offer such option. Initially I was only considering a 85 or 85D but couldn't resist the insane mode feature that can outrun most exotic sports car in 0-100km.  The second Model S 70 which my parents uses was purely being a stock model with the practical options and without having to wait 2-3 months delivery time. With the affordable finance plans and warranty coverage the monthly cost is similar to my brand new Prius that I got 10 years ago, I thought it was a good time to phase out the hybrid technology (which I believe was quite advance at the time)

Alex's Tesla Model S finds a friend

LL: Excellent. Now, if I am to force you to pick 1 favourite thing about your Tesla Model S, what would it be?

AW: Simplicity compare to an ICE car and even other EV models from other brand.

LL: Well, that's neatly answered. My questions are going to get tricky, almost like a quiz. Ready? How many types of EVs are sold in Hong Kong? Name a few brands off the top of your head.

AW: Well from what I recall there are about 50+ models and 30+ of them are private cars or motocycle. The remaining are either public transport or commercial vehicles. Of course Tesla, BMW, VW, Renault, Nissan, BYD, Zero (motorcycle)....

LL: Rank the top three most popular EVs sold in Hong Kong and say why the Hong Kong EV market is as such.

AW: Tesla Model S, BMW i3......ummm the third most popular is kind of tricky to tell. I would have to say Nissan Leaf but the Renault models are catching up since it is popular with government dept. I think Hong Kong EV market will gradually go from range anxiety to charging anxiety. As long as there are charging location as common or as easy as getting your iPhone or smartphone charge I agree with the comment made by Elon while he was in Hong Kong for the special event in Jan... the driving range don't matter as much. Hong Kong is such a small place compare to mainland China, US or European having a EV packed with a 300km compare to a 1000km does not make much difference other than having to charge less frequently. So let me ask you would a phone battery that will last few days or even a week be a top feature in your phone pick list? We don't think about it since we can charge our phones almost anywhere.

LL: Hong Kong is the No. 1 city with the highest concentration of EVs in the world. How many EVs and public EV chargers are there in Hong Kong?

AW: As of the end of Jan 2016 EDP reports the number of EVs registered in HK is 4464 units with over 1300 EV chargers for the public. Out of those, more than 200 medium chargers and 150 plus quick chargers. I believe these numbers will continue to move upwards.

LL: You ARE well-prepared for this interview! Nice! Is that enough to cope with the growing EV numbers then?

AW: If we want the transition to a full ICE free roads that is never enough. We need EV drivers to have best experience where they can go to any location and there is charging facility available. Having home charger made available to all EV owner is a good start which will offload the queuing stress at public chargers.

LL: Agree, many of our members want home charging, the difficulties lie in not having permission to do so in their car parks, but that's a huge topic to discuss. Okay, next one. What's the next most anticipated EV in Hong Kong and why?

AW: I would have to say Model 3 even though Model X has not arrived in Hong Kong yet. Model 3 price point should convince more ICE owners to switch assuming the charging anxiety problem has been resolved.

LL: Tesla Model 3 has just been unveiled on April Fool's day, what do you think about this much anticipated EV? Has that fooled you and will you get it?

AW: I believe the Tesla team has done a good job so far when presenting the Model 3 at the event. Even though it will be at least a two years wait, it is in Tesla's DNA that the final product will not just be good but GREAT. I have put in a deposit and will decide then if I should trade-in my current MS when the invitation arrives to configure the car.

LL: So before you can configure your car, here's my next question: what's the next most incredible function you want to see added to your car? And when do you think that will happen?

AW: Next generation auto-pilot with Summon that can drive through HK busy streets on its own. I could drive to work then let the car drive home by itself to be parked. Then call up my car again when I am ready to leave. The same feature will also likely drive down the need for people having to own their car where car sharing business model will become a common trend that consumers prefer if all the legal or monopoly barriers are removed.

Alex charging at a multi-standard charger at Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong

LL: I'm sure Tesla Hong Kong is working hard on getting Summon approved by TD (Transport Department of Hong Kong). This question's on charging standard: will CHAdeMO be here to stay in Hong Kong and why? Because it seems to be disappearing in Europe and in the States.

AW: This is like predicting VHS vs Betamax or Blu-Ray vs HD DVD. Supporting multiple standard requires much more resources and confuses consumer. Manufacturers are holding up with their standard to keep competition behind while having leverage and control on the market...maybe except for Tesla who makes it available to others as long as they pay the share cost. Also the benefit of one standard over another is not that substantial to justify to keep multiple standard. Although I do own CHAdeMO adapter for my MS, I personally in favor for a single standard as a consumer.

LL: That's true, one more standard means one more cable or an adapter. Lastly, name one thing you would like to see happening in 2017.

AW: I hope there will be more charging stalls at most parking facilities but using the power distribution method where each stall does not require a dedicated or fixed amount of power. Any stalls can be a quick, medium and standard charger depending on the status of the EV or based on price when the free public charging ends. If you need a quick charge you have to pay a premium or if you can stay for hours then the cost is less.

LL: Lovely! Well, that's all the time we can have with Alex today. Thank you very much Alex for your insights and hopefully we'll see more of your articles soon!

AW: Thank you.... great to be talking to you.

Monday 4 July 2016

Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #004 -- Mr. Desmond Wong

Desmond with his Tesla Model S 70

It takes a lot of enthusiasm to be socialising with and answering questions from hundreds of EV owners on multiple instant messenger apps.  Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #004 has Mr. Desmond Wong, a "non-Rich Man" who owns a "not-a-toy" Tesla Model S.

Here's our interview below:

Locky Law (LL): For today's interview, I have invited Mr. Desmond Wong, an EV and EV groups enthusiast who has devoted his time in sharing knowledge to literally hundreds of EV owners through the internet. Welcome Desmond!

Desmond Wong (DW): Thanks Locky for inviting me to talk about EV and myself.

LL: Could you please tell us something about yourself, your family and your car?

DW: I'm a probationary licence holder (P driver) and a rare weekend driver, whereas my wife Kristy Ho is the one who drives our Tesla Model S 70kWh to work as we live in the New Territories. Originally I'm supposed to be the owner of this dream car in order to celebrate my "late success" but unfortunately I failed to get insured last year, but I'm happy to know that some P driver succeeded in getting insured recently.

LL: Is your Tesla Model S your very first car?

DW: Before Tesla, my wife tried a few ICE of different sizes starting from the smallest Smartfortwo followed by BMW and Camry.  Honestly I'm not an environmentalist and seldom think about air pollution issue caused by ICE.  The choice of EV or Tesla was not driven by environmental concern but a desire for a special car.  It was only until my white Tesla got layer of dust on the edge of the trunk after a highway drive then I realised that the pollution from exhaust emission from ICE is no difference from the smoking hazard.

LL: But there are some views in Hong Kong saying that EVs, and particularly a Tesla one, are just "Rich Man's Toys".

DW: To me EV or Tesla is not a rich-boy toy for showing off but a car with excellent safety measures for new driver like me which cuts expenditure on fuel for my wife who drives daily. That's why we chose Tesla without hesitation, it was just a 2-hour decision). I understand that there have been a few interviews of members who are businessmen, professionals, car experts and environmentalists, it could be interesting to have a voice from a different angle and I think I could be one of those representing the ordinary working class.

LL: Talking about safety features, the Transport Department of Hong Kong has recently approved Autosteer and Auto Lane Change of the Autopilot driver-assistance package. And from our previous conversation, I know that you have not yet included this package in your car. May I know why you haven't chosen that yet?

DW: At that time, it looked to me that the government would unlikely approve the function so I adopted a wait-and-see approach, which turned out to be a wrong guess.  I would purchase the feature when summon function is available as I believe that parking a sizeable EV is a challenging task in certain parking areas.

LL: Now, Tesla Model 3 prototype has just been unveiled a few days ago on 1st April, what are you views on this affordable EV, and how would you compare this with your Tesla Model S?

DW: Based on my limited experience with Tesla and technology, I would tend to think that the later the better and cheaper.  In other words, an EV with enhanced features targeting at a wider scope of car owners is always possible.  While Model 3 or EV of any other brands could be priced at a more affordable level, the charging facilities have to be substantially enhanced before EV can become a major trend in Hong Kong.  Compared to Model S, Model 3 is a smaller sedan with a refreshing interior design and panoramic roof; however, I do not lose my strong liking to Model S in particular in areas like its range and speed.

LL: Would you consider switching to the Model 3?

DW: I will consider switching to Model 3 by exercising the Resale Value Guarantee (RVG) of Model S when the uncertainty from both the First Registration Tax (FRT) and the charging issue is cleared.

LL: That's great, because that takes us to my next question. As a "non-Rich Man", what do you think about the EV development in Hong Kong?

DW: EV is still at a very preliminary journey and the governmental EV policy still has a lot to emerge and enhance.  If there could be a behavioural change of car owners through extensive education, which is supported by a revolutionary EV policy change such as to increase the charging facility coverage and charging efficiency at each carpark, I would feel more optimistic about the EV development in Hong Kong.  Kindly note that promoting EV is an even harder war than anti-smoking as 99% of existing cars are ICE of which the owners may have hesitation or misunderstanding on EV.  Apart from the charging issue, EV maintenance could be another focus that we would be concerned about.  Lowering the maintenance costs and time could be an encouraging factor to attract more EV.


LL: One key hindrance that has been dragging the heels of EV growth in Hong Kong is the inadequacy of charging stations as well as their availability. Given that some charging stations are occupied by ICE at various times of the day, do you have a suggestions for prospective and new EV owners on this?

DW: In the absence of any EV-friendly charging policy or related legislation, a charging spot located at parking space in general is not reserved solely for charging by EV; in other words, ICE or EV can park there without charging.  Under this situation, building a few slow charging spots may not be meaningful.  The government, carpark management, and EV charging providers should aim at providing substantial high-speed charging facilities possibly at each spot such that EV can charge whenever there is vacant lot without the need to reserve any parking spots to EV.  Also, carpark management or EV charging providers should also establish charging spot policy.  On the other hand, EV owners should be educated on the appropriate use of charging spots and discouraged (by clamping or warning notice) for overcharging or parking without charging.

LL: Are you having any difficulties in charging your car then?

DW: Yes, I am one of those unfortunate owners who do not have any home or office chargers and need to rely on SC or CHAdeMO chargers.  Situation gets worse recently due to the enormous increase in new EV numbers.  The upsetting charging experience can really deter people from making the change to EV.  I really hope that the government and Tesla should think about solutions and act quickly before the issue becomes lethal which could put a stop at the EV growth.

LL:  Finally, what other things you find worthwhile to share with us about EV?

DW: Thanks to the small population of EV users who are arguably guinea pigs to the new EV technology, we can form a very united group in which people are willing to help and share ideas or information in either the chat groups or through meeting each other at charging spots.  Also, I got to know a team of EV enthusiasts from Charged Hong Kong who dedicate their own private time to promote EV and meet with various stakeholders in the fight for EV development.  This is really impressive which definitely motivates people to step up and strive for the common goal, that is to protect our precious environment by encouraging people to switch from ICE to EV.

LL: That's excellent, thank you Desmond for your time taking this interview! If anyone wants to chat with you online, where can they find you?

DW: My pleasure indeed to talk to you Locky and everyone who cares about the EV development.  There are Tesla chat groups on Naver LINE app called "Tesla LINE" and under Telegram app named "Tesla HK 車主討論會".   Feel free to jot down any questions or useful information and a lot of EV enthusiasts will certainly give you helpful and quick responses.

Sunday 3 July 2016

Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #003 -- Mr. Ralph Ng

Ralph Ng and his Tesla Model S

To qualify as a true EVangelist, not only must one truly understand the science behind electric vehicles, they must also be actively engaged in educating the public. And if I were to name one Charged Hong Kong EVangelist off the top of my head, I will pick Ralph. Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #003 has Mr. Ralph Ng sharing his story, with emphasis on Drive Electric Week 2015, on 29th March -- his birthday.

Here's our interview below:

Locky Law (LL): Hello everyone. I am pleased to have Mr. Ralph Ng with me for this interview today. Ralph is a very special guest as he was one of the major Evangelists at the first ever Drive Electric Week in Hong Kong organized by Charged Hong Kong last year. Hello Ralph! Thank you for coming and happy birthday!

Ralph Ng (RN): Thank you for your invitation, in fact it’s my honor being here and share my thoughts as an Evangelist.

LL: Ralph, before we go in-depth, would you please tell me a little about yourself?

RN: I used to live at Cloudview Road, North Point, because of my 4 dogs, 8 years ago I moved to Tuen Mun , a village house. I have 2 elder brothers, and I am the youngest, spoiled one. Thank god that my mother is 93 now and she is still going strong. We have a family with 4 generations. I was in the fashion business as an importer of top brands, and operated boutiques in the Peninsula Hotel, Landmark. With the globalization and market changed in the 90’s my business strategy, instead of being an importer, I worked closely with InvestHK and brought in brands from Europe, setup their Hong Kong-based Asia Pacific headquarters, before entering the Great China market. Now I am semi-retired, working as a consultant for an Indonesian group representing the Central Java Tourism Board, promoting their tourism business.

LL: That is incredible in every aspect! From our past conversations, I know that you are a car lover. But since when have you fallen in love with EVs and why the current one? What do you like about it?

RN: I am still an Internal Combustion Engine(ICE) car lover, the power and the sound thrill me. However the oil price, pollution and the unenvironmental-friendliness tell me that we have to change, not to say to save the world but at least not to make it worst. It was a love at first sight with Tesla. She definitely provides me (or all of us) a better quality of life in ALL respect.

LL: Talking about "She", I've had the luck to have met your wife and daughter at Hopewell Superchargers one time, and they only have the best praises for you, particularly on your devotion to EV and friends. Our LINE group expands quickly mainly because you just seem to be able to invite member after member, which is incredible! On average, how much time do you spend on promoting EVs a week?

RN: I don’t assign any particular time, but whenever I have a chance I encourage people driving EV like a preacher. What my wife said to you is true. Many times I am over enthusiastic, people might misunderstand me and think that I am doing it for some personal gains. I don’t care how they think; I just do what I believe. It’s true, I do gain, pure, long time friendship with those who understand my character.

LL: You know, one of the many reasons I respect Ralph is that he would actually welcome fellow members to use his home charging when needed, and although I haven't had the need myself, I still think this is an amazing gesture, given that charger-sharing is very rare in Hong Kong. What's your motivation?

RN: As I said "Charity starts at home." Hahaha….I enjoy meeting people….honestly, up to now no one ever come for emergency charge yet, which is a good sign, my motive is first, try release people’s charge anxiety. Second, if this message passes along, and more charger sharing, hopefully more people will give up ICE to EV. I will not give up any chances of promoting 'Drive EV' and that’s why I join Charged Hong Kong.

LL: Totally agree with you. I consider Ralph to be my mentor because he has taught me so much about public relations, marketing and event management, all within a matter of hours during our lunch one time! Could you please tell us how come you have so much valuable experience in these areas?

RN: I was major in Marketing, Human Behavior. I organized fashion shows, inauguration parties, staff training…for over 30 years.
Ralph EVangelising at Cathy City

LL: You've helped Charged Hong Kong's event from behind the scene many many times. In Hong Kong's first ever Drive Electric Week, you have been the most active participant in the event! Could you please tell us how it went? (for example, when it was, how many days you were there, how you promote it, how many people you have given test-rides to, rough estimate of how many people you have talked to including students, etc.)

RN: Drive Electric Week was from 12th to 20th September 2015. I was there 4 days giving rides for over a hundred people. It was about a total of over 1000km free rides I gave out. The most fruitful was not only the rides, but the chance explaining to over 100 school kids what EV is and how we can provide Hong Kong cleaner air. The schoolboys are our future. Credits should go to Mr. Core Lohse, the Secretary of Charged Hong Kong who organized the event at Cathay City, I was just a runner for that event. Good job, Core.

LL: You are absolutely a hero in disguise! What were some of the main questions visitors usually ask and how you answer those questions?

RN: "Where is the engine….", "How’s the consumption of gas?????", "What’s the advantage of driving an EV", all kinds of different questions showing how little knowledge they have with EVs. Education -- that’s part of the job Charged Hong Kong is doing now. For those questions I believe all of us, owners/drivers of an EV could easily answer with no hesitation.

LL: Were there any funny moments or memorable experience you can share with us?

RN: There were funny incidents I would like to share. During the party with Elon at Kai Tak, one Tesla owner approached me saying “ Hi, I remember you, while I was looking for parking space at Central, you waved to me telling me that you are about to leave and led me to where you parked and shifted your parking for me.” Since then we become friends. Incident 2, at Panda, my wife dropped her sunglasses. The one she likes most. A month later while I was at Panda again, a nice looking guy stopped my car and took out my wife’s glasses from a nice beautiful box, saying, “ Your wife dropped it last time while you were charging.” He remembers me because we moved out the car to another space immediately after finishing charge and gave him the space. What I am trying to say is nowadays, the parking and charging anxiety is growing to every EV owner, before more EV chargers developed we need to help each other, drivers of EV should learn the etiquette of charging your car in the public car parks, don’t just complain the ICE blocking the charge port, remember charity starts at home.

LL: Being a responsible EV owner is really important, and having good EV charging etiquette is really a must if we want to continue EVangelising. This bring me to my next question, I know you will be helping out at the FIA Formula E which will be held in Hong Kong this October, what can you tell us about the event?

RN: So far not much, as they are still selecting volunteers. There were over 1000 enrolled. Later on there will be field training at Canton.

LL: Wow, Canton, that's some distance to travel. So locally, in terms of events, what kind do you think Charged Hong Kong should focus more on this year or in the near future?

RN: May be Charged Hong Kong could arrange a gathering of 1000+ Tesla during the Formula E and make it a Guinness record, at the same time sign the petition urging our Government to do more on the charge parking, property owner incorporation, electric companies to install more home chargers, hopefully in the very near future to release the charging anxiety, get more EVs on the road.


LL: Lastly, what personal advice do you have for future owners of EVs?

RN: I know people comment that the Tesla is a “Rich man’s toy” I would say on the contrary, It saves not only your money, but also our world. “Wow its so fast, 0-100 within 5 sec. what a super car” I would say its not a super car, its super fast not for racing though, the fast speed is to get you out and / or in time to stay away from danger. The future trend: Remember during the early 70’S there were people who hated and reluctant to accept having a portable phone…. what would happen to them if they insist still not having one. The EV is exactly like a Mobile phone with 4 wheels. That’s why they are called “Auto Mobile”. Now the Tesla get the Auto pilot, Auto assist lane change, etc,,etc,,a real “Auto Mobile” Final advice: Drive safely

LL: Thank you very much, for your mentoring and helping Charged Hong Kong past and present, and all the effort you have put in promoting EVs and Charged Hong Kong! We are very lucky to have you!

RN: Thank you.