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As Tesla's global hunkering down sees it axe its Country Manager for Singapore, we get up to speed on how the electric carmaker has been doing locally.

17 Jun 2022

When we last took a proper look at Tesla's milestones in Singapore, things were slightly rosier for the buzzy EV company. And by rosier, we mean that it still had a country manager.

That changed this week. Shortly after Elon Musk announced, then backpedaled on a global workforce shrinking at Tesla, the company's Country Manager for Singapore, Christopher Bousigues, revealed on LinkedIn that he had been asked to go.

Taking stock 

Christopher Bousigues's retrenchment comes as Tesla cuts its global workforce by 10%
Bousigues, naturally, appears to be quite discouraged by the decision. The internal workings of Tesla Singapore may remain opaque to observers like us, but the brand's outsized presence in Singapore - in such a short span of time too - speaks for itself. Among other milestones, he seems to have helped make the call to expedite deliveries such that the first customers could receive their cars in July last year.

With oversight now falling under Tesla Hong Kong, however, we thought it might be a good time to reflect on where else Tesla Singapore has progressed with a dedicated country manager still on board. Here are a few other significant developments that Tesla Singapore has experienced in the past 10 months. 

Tesla shifts its experience store to Milennia Walk - Jan 2022

Tesla's experience store now occupies its own unit in Millenia Walk, with test drives on offer as well
When One Assembly, the pop-up collaboration between BHG and Raffles City (a.k.a. the Robinsons-replacement) announces that it is shuttering at the start of the year, so too, is Tesla Singapore's showroom forced to vacate its space there.

But the company wastes no time in re-establishing its presence within the Central Business District. On 11 January - just eight days after One Assembly's last day of operations - Tesla opens its new store in Milennia Walk. This time, the company isn't running out of real estate rented from another bigger name, but has a proper shop unit bearing the glowing letters: 'T E S L A'.

Using the drop-off point outside the mall as a starting point, registration for test drives is also opened to interested drivers, which are said to be conducted along the East Coast Parkway's 'scenic waterfront'.

Tesla breaks the Top 10 for new car registrations in 2021 - Jan 2022

In less than a year, Tesla's Model 3 has earned the title of Singapore's best selling all-electric car
When the data for new cars registered in 2021 is eventually published by the LTA, the numbers carry with them a sizably shocking revelation: Tesla has managed to crack the Top 10 with 924 units registered for the year. It leaps above names like Volkswagen and Subaru in the process. 

But more impressive is the duration in which the company has achieved this. Considering that first deliveries started only in July, more than 850 units have zipped into new homes across just five months, with September seeing a record 314 Teslas being registered. As a result, the Tesla Model 3 also reinforces its position as the Republic's best-selling EV of all time. 

(An interesting point of comparison now is the sum of 190 Teslas registered from January to May in 2022. This isn't a shabby figure by any measure, but denotes a significantly slower pace of deliveries. It's likely that the lockdowns in China contributed to this, since Singapore gets its Teslas from Shanghai. In May, just nine units were registered.)

Tesla expands its Supercharger network, but also starts charging customers - Ongoing + April 2022

Tesla Superchargers can now be found at seven malls
Tesla's Superchargers at ION Orchard understandably got the most hype as its first proprietary chargers on our shores. But what should excite the public just as much is the carmaker's steady expansion of its charging network. 

On top of ION Orchard and Millenia Walk in the CBD, malls that have Superchargers now include Katong V and Century Square Mall (East), Waterway Point (Northeast), The Star Vista (Southwest), and just this month, Causeway Point (North). Tesla's global Supercharger map indicates that more are set to open still, specifically for our West-siders that haven't yet been covered. 

Plugging your Tesla in at a Supercharger is no longer free of charge
To return to the carmaker's impressive sales figures, however, expanding the network isn't a bonus. Rather, it's direly necessary to avoid usage bottlenecks. On this larger point of sustaining operations, another factor also changes: Cost. 

Starting in mid-April, a per-kWh payment structure now accompanies usage of the Superchargers (estimated to be $24 to fully charge a Model 3 back then), which were previously free to use. This is on top of idle fees, which kick in after a full recharge to discourage the hogging of charging points. Starting at $0.50/minute when the stations are at half capacity, the fees shoot up to $1.00/minute when all the Superchargers are in use.

Tesla finally brings the Model Y to Singapore - June 2022

The base Model Y is retailing above $140,000 without COE - over $25,000 more than the base Model 3 
An established and undisputed best-seller already in many major auto markets abroad, it was always a question of when - not if - the Model Y would reach Singapore. That question gets answered loud and clear in mid-June when orders for the compact-SUV finally open to local buyers

Naturally, the Model Y, as an SUV, retails at a more than-$20,000 premium over the Model 3 when stacked against an equivalent variant. But a crucial difference in their timings of release vis-à-vis COE prices cannot be ignored. Category B was hovering around $60,000 back in July 2021, when first deliveries of the Model 3 were made. COE premiums for large cars now tower above the $100,000 mark.

That means that whereas the brand's first customers could likely have gotten a Model 3 for just above $200,000, a customer today is realistically looking at setting aside close to $250,000 for a base Model Y - and close to $300,000 for a Model Y Performance.

What's next?

It's quite common in the car industry for different territories to be overseen by a regional HQ
While the pinch from losing what we believe to be a rather passionate leader will undoubtedly be felt, it's important to point out that not having a dedicated Country Manager is quite commonplace in the auto industry. In other words, Bousigues' departure isn't likely to cause too much turbulence in Tesla Singapore's upwards flight path. 

Automotive markets are often grouped together by region to consolidate administration, especially when volume is manageable. Large marques like BMW and Jaguar Land Rover, for instance, operate their regional headquarters in Singapore while overseeing authorised dealerships in the geographical vicinity, such as Malaysia and Indonesia.

The departure of its Country Manager isn't likely to cause too much turbulence for Tesla Singapore
Moreover, a combination of other factors may even reinforce Tesla's decision to remove its Country Manager position for Singapore. Its direct-to-consumer model doesn't really necessitate a need for a dedicated head; ditto for the smaller scale of sales and operations in a market like Singapore's. 

Tesla isn't without its own set of tribulations to face. Stop-start production in China, financial woes (self-induced or otherwise), and a limited model lineup are all issues that it will have to grapple with in the short and long term.

But in Singapore at least, the carmaker is still fully basking in a market just warming to EVs - and should thus bid quite a painless farewell to its Country Manager.

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