Tesla Model S gets fined in Singapore due to measuring error

Tesla and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore are now in the middle of a dispute over numbers. The LTA claims to have tested the Model S P85D bought by Joe Nguyen in July 2015 from Hong Kong and that the car would consume 444 Wh/km. Tesla claims the same car would consume only 181 Wh/km when it was produced. So, who is right and who is wrong on this one? First, the facts.


LTA says it has tested the Model S P85D according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) R101 standard.  With 444Wh/km, and considering Singapore’s dirty way of getting electricity, with a CO2 generation ot 0.5 g/Wh, the Model S would be responsible for 222 g/km of CO2 in the atmosphere. That places it almost as a gas guzzler car, subject to a fine of 15,000 Singapore dollars, equivalent to US$ 11,000. In case it was considered as a clean car under the Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS), it would have received a rebate of the same 15,000 Singapore dollars.


Tesla states the P85D has a range of 475 km, or 295 miles, with its 85 kWh batteries fully charged. And no consumer has complained that these numbers are not realistic so far. So let’s do the math.

A car that consumes 444 Wh/km would not be able to run 475 km unless it had a 210 kWh battery. A car that consumes 181 Wh/km would need a 85 kWh battery to run 475 km. But let’s imagine LTA’s tests are right.


If the car really consumed 444 Wh/km, its range with the 85 kWh batteries would be limited to 194 km, or 120 miles. If you paid US$ 70,000 for a car that promised double that range, wouldn’t you feel robbed? Wouldn’t you make a lot of noise to get your money back after feeling deceived? We hear crickets from satisfied Model S consumers so far.

Finally, the French website Challenges Auto has created an electric car ranking for energy consumption and the Model S P85D ends last, with an energy consumption of 19,9 kWh/100 km, or 199 Wh/km. A little more than Tesla claims, but not even close to the 444 Wh/km that LTA claims to have found in its tests.


Summing up, we expect LTA to give Nguyen his US$ 22,000 back with an apology note very soon.  Tesla cars have proven so far to be high performance vehicles. Not only in what refers to acceleration numbers (the P85D, replaced by the P90D, could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.2 s), but also on energy efficiency, compared to similar performance and size combustion engine competitors. Lately, their performance in controversy involvement has had a meaningful rise…


Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.