Tesla car delivery to S'pore buyers delayed due to chip shortage, Covid-19 pandemic and high demand

Buyers who have been in touch with Tesla said it had secured certificates of entitlement for its first cars in May's second tender and June's first tender.
Buyers who have been in touch with Tesla said it had secured certificates of entitlement for its first cars in May's second tender and June's first tender.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Tesla's delivery of its first cars here has been delayed by between two and six months, its schedule upset by a worldwide chip shortage, the Covid-19 pandemic and high demand.

The American electric-car maker was unavailable for comment, but buyers who have been in touch with the company said it had secured certificates of entitlement for its first cars in May and June tenders.

These will be for a handful of cars which will be delivered in July.

Buyer Alvin Tham is among those who will be getting their Model 3 cars first. The 29-year-old blockchain consultant said he reserved a car in 2016 when the model was unveiled globally, and placed an order "within four minutes" of its Singapore sales portal going live on Feb 9.

Mr Tham expected to get his car - his first - in May going by the portal's delivery time line of "12 to 14 weeks". "But in April, they reached out to say their service centre would not be ready in time," he said, adding that his car would be delayed by two months.

Describing his five-year wait to get his Model 3 Performance, Mr Tham said: "It's been excruciating. During that time, I even considered getting a parallel import."

He even stopped renting cars two months ago because he had expected to get his Tesla by then. "I've been in a bit of a limbo since," he said, but added that he is happy that he will finally be getting his Tesla.

Another buyer, Mr Michael Tan, did not mind the delay as he has a car - a Porsche. The 51-year-old company director also said he expected to get his Tesla Model 3 Performance "12 to 14 weeks" after he booked it in February.

"They told me a month ago that I'll get it in October," he said. "I'm happy that their sales are good because I'm a Tesla shareholder too."

But banking officer Shaun Lin is not so pleased. The 40-year-old said he placed his booking within "one or two days" of the sales portal opening. He was ordering the Model 3 Standard Range as a replacement for his wife's car, and thus was banking on the initial three-month wait.

"Two months into the wait, I had no word from them. So I contacted them, and waited another two to three weeks for them to respond," Mr Lin said. "They told me I would be getting my car probably in October or November."

He asked: "How can it be nine months?" He has since bought an Audi Q3 (a compact SUV that runs on petrol) because "it's in the same price range as the Tesla".

Industry observers attribute the protracted delivery to a worldwide chip shortage, high demand and the Covid-19 circuit breaker period last year derailing Tesla's plans to set up its service centre here.

Meanwhile, a Tesla Owners Club (Singapore) has been registered, with Mr Joe Nguyen as its inaugural president.

Mr Nguyen, 49, made news in 2016 when his privately imported Tesla Model S was slapped with an emission surcharge - prompting Tesla chief Elon Musk to contact Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The surcharge stayed, but Mr Nguyen, a digital media consultant, has since become an unofficial Tesla brand ambassador of sorts here.

Commenting on the delivery delay, Mr Nguyen said it was "not uncommon" for buyers anywhere to have to wait for their Tesla. "Demand is high," he said.

In March, Tesla updated its delivery time for the Model 3 in the United States from "two to five weeks" to "two to 14 weeks".

When The Straits Times checked this week, the Tesla Singapore sales portal merely indicated that deliveries would take place in the second half of the year.