Electric cars are only as clean as the electric grid they run off of, and in Singapore, that means one owner’s Tesla Model S is getting fined for producing too much CO2. Here’s how they came to this figure for what is ostensibly a zero-emissions vehicle.

The fine comes from Singapore’s Land Transport Authority, or LTA, which gives fines or rebates depending on how much (or how little) pollution a car emits. According to the LTA’s calculations, the Tesla Model S produces the equivalent of 222g/km of CO2, which is enough to categorize it as a serious polluter.

Maybe we need a new term for this. It can’t be a gas hog or a gas guzzler. Is it an e-guzzler? None of this sounds right.


An LTA representative spoke with Channel News Asia to explain their rationale. According to the LTA, the Tesla Model S they fined used 444 watt hour per kilometer according to tests performed under United Nations Economic Commission for Europe standards.

From there, the calculations were simple:


“As for all electric vehicles, a grid emission factor of 0.5 g CO2/Wh was also applied to the electric energy consumption. This is to account for CO2 emissions during the electricity generation process, even if there are no tail-pipe emissions. The equivalent CO2 emission of Mr Nguyen’s car was 222g/km, which is in the CEVS surcharge band,”

Naturally, the owner protests this fine, stating that their 444Wh/km doesn’t match what Tesla claims the car uses. Road & Track and Autoblog report that even the would-be-thirstiest Model S, the biggest-battery P90D, only uses 210Wh/km according to Tesla’s US specs.

What’s particularly funny about this is that the owner had actually spent months applying for a S$15,000 (almost $11,000 USD) low-emissions rebate under the TLA’s system, only to get hit with a S$15,000 fine instead.

Elon Musk has already been alerted to the case on Twitter, and we’ll see if the fine sticks.

CORRECTION: This article initially stated that the fine occurred in the Philippines. It was Singapore. Not sure what happened with my brain.

Photo Credit: Tesla