Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #011 --Ms. Lydia Lee & Mr. Andrew Crampton

Lydia and Andrew's EV fleet and their charger
Photo by Andrew and Lydia

Locky Law (LL): It’s been awhile since our last Charged Hong Kong Members’ Story. Luckily, we have just the right Christmas gift for you all! In Hong Kong, most family own one EV, this family owns two, what’s rare about it is they own a Tesla Model S and a VolksWagen e-Golf, both very new! Two EVs which are very different in terms of aesthetics and size. Let’s welcome Andrew and Lydia, who will share their exciting 'Tale of Two EVs" with us today. Thank you for your time Andrew and Lydia.

Andrew Crampton (AC): Thanks Locky.

Lydia Lee (Lydia): Thank you, Locky.

LL: Lydia and Andrew, could you tell us something about yourselves first?

AC: I’m originally from Australia. But have lived in HK since the mid 90s. I used to work for a private equity group doing their due diligence. I've been "retired" quite a few years already.

Lydia: I grew up in HK, left for the UK to study, started working at 16 and lived there for 12 years.  A Civil engineer by profession and I am not fortunate enough like Andrew who has retired some years ago. Andrew is like a monk, doesn't smoke, doesn’t drink and he became a vegetarian since 12. We don't have kids and not planning to have any.

AC: We like to travel over breeding.

LL: Haha, okay. My first question is, why EVs in Hong Kong?

AC: Being an asthmatic, the air quality is important to me. I've hiked quite a bit in HK, Taiwan and Europe, so I see first hand the difference in air quality. Having an EV over and ICE is logical choice, especially in HK where commutes are shorter than most big cities. It is no fun to breathe through an exhaust pipe. Lydia drives a lot of compared to average drivers in HK, so it's also an economic choice. EVs are much cheaper to run than ICE vehicles. Plus, she builds roads and tunnels we drive on!

LL: Does that have anything to do with your choice of owning an EV in HK?

Lydia: My past projects are mostly drainage tunnels and now road tunnels. The Central Wanchai Bypass tunnel would be the first tunnel in HK have an Air Purification System (APS) installed. So the air inside the tunnel would be treated before going into the atmosphere. I visited one of the major city tunnels in Madrid, who has an APS installed and the operator told us, since the vehicles have been changing to better fuel and better exhausts emissions, the usage of that APS is a lot less. It proves how much ICE vehicles are polluting the atmosphere. So for me to show others that EVs is a way forward, not building APS is the least I can do. An APS is to solve a problem but not fix the cause of the problem. To use an EV is to fixes the problem at the source.

LL: Why the Tesla Model S?

Lydia: I owned my car since 18, had quite a variety of cars since but all ICE cars and learned about Tesla from my Canadian Chinese friend Ed who owns a Roadster since 2012.  I just really would like to own and drives a legend ever since. Therefore, once I can afford one, I change to Model S without second thought. Another major Tesla would be to support a visionary who developed the technology and made EV possible for masses.

LL: So, getting Tesla Model S was Lydia's call?

Lydia: Yes. Model S is mine. Andrew prefers smaller cars.

AC: Actually I delayed her model S purchase for about 12 months.

LL: How so?

AC: I wanted to wait until the technology had matured a little more. Also the build quality has improved over that time for the model S.

Photo from

LL: Is that why you got a VW e-Golf after the Model S?

AC: My Smart was getting old and tired. I was always wanting an EV, but I preferred a smaller car compared to the Model S. I was comparing all of the small EVs available in HK at the moment, and came close to getting a Renault Zoe, but by chance I found a near new e-Golf for a good price so choose that. The ride and comfort of the e-Golf is great. But of course it does not the range of a Model S.

LL: How do you normally charge your EVs?

AC: Our cars are parked outside always, so we installed a charging point next to our parking spaces by running a 120 metre cable from our house to our car park, so we can charge at home when needed. The e-Golf can fully charge under 10-12 hours on just a 13A socket.

LL: Nice. Here comes the more critical questions. First one is for our Hong Kong readers: Should the government extend EV FRT waiver?

AC: The FRT tax waiver that EVs utilise at the moment is a very small percentage of the government revenues, and if the government is committed to reducing roadside pollution and improving air quality, then we need to make the transition to an all electric transport fleet. Here is a pollution map of the world.

LL: But some say EV FRT waiver is subsidizing EV buyers with tax payer's money, what do you think?

Lydia: The FRT waiver is not subsidizing anybody, everyone has the freedom to choose to support a good cause, and it is their choice not to support the good cause hence they have to pay the price via a tax, this is the way I see it. By buying an ICE vehicle, the roadside pollution it causes is not nearly justified by the FRT they have paid. The damage is already done and they still won't face the reality which is indeed really sad.

Xmas 2015, Zermatt in Switzerland
Photo by Lydia Lee

LL: Second one is for our international readers: How do you think Trump’s policies will affect the climate change?

Lydia: Skiing is my passion and seeing how the global warming affecting the glaciers is painful. I have skied for more than 30 years everywhere you can think of. The ski season is getting later each year. Take Europe as an example, the ski season would begin in early December. Nowadays it's hardly much snow in December on Alps. See this photo? Xmas 2015, Zermatt in Switzerland, no snow at all. Fortunately lots of ski resorts rely on snow making machine.

LL: Well, I prefer snow by mother nature. I have never ever seen snow before. And I really wonder if my kids ever will, this is very sad. I wish that everyone can watch documentaries like Racing Extinction and DiCaprio's Before The Flood and simply learn the truth. But we have some good news today, Elon being named to Trump's advisory role. What do you think, Andrew?

AC: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” - Sun Tzu, The Art of War. Elon will have the president-elect’s ear now, so the groups (big oil) that have been attacking Elon/Tesla and EVs in general will have to think twice about doing this again from now on. I don’t see the new president wanting to curtail what Tesla is doing, they build stuff and employ lots of people in the US, and this is exactly the kind of business the new president wants (made in America).

LL: I really hope what you said is right. Fingers crossed! Last but not least, since we are talking about Elon. He mentioned that Hong Kong is the ‘beacon city’ for EVs, so surely he pays a lot of attention to the EV development of the city. When John Kang from Forbes asked me for another person he could interview the first day Tesla accepted walk-in reservation for Model 3, I immediately thought of Lydia because she was sending to our LINE group chat all these photos she took, showing long queues of people waiting outside various Tesla shops in Hong Kong. And soon enough, she was on that Forbes article. Actually you too Andrew but you were known as the ‘husband’. Now, allow me to quote the article a bit,

For some, like Lydia Lee, the fact that it doesn’t pollute the air is enough to buy the EV. “It’s not about the price tag,” said the civil engineer designing roads and drives a Model S. “I can’t wait to see the end of the fossil fuel era.” Lee spent her Thursday morning lining up at a Tesla store to reserve her Model 3, together with more than 100 people combined in all three Tesla stores in the city. “My husband asked me: ‘Why on earth would you go there to line up and pay a $1,000 deposit for a car without knowing what it even looks like?’ and I said it doesn’t matter what it looks like,” said Lee. “The price you pay for it is not for a car, but for your future and the next generation.” “But I’m so glad it looks so stylish.”

Coming to think of it now that you know what it looks like, what are your opinions of Model 3 and when do you expect to see your Model 3 in Hong Kong? The ‘husband’ first maybe?

Lydia and Andrew in a Forbes article
Image from Forbes

AC: Actually this is not true, the article quoted things out of context. I am all for supporting the use of clean technology, especially EVs, we have ordered 2 Tesla Model 3s. So if Lydia wasn’t lining up, it would have been me. I really hope that Tesla stays on schedule and we get to see the Model 3 in HK before the end of 2018. The Model 3 introduces new battery technology which will find its way into more EVs and home energy storage.

Lydia: I am really excited and looking forward to see the Model 3 go into production as it will be Elon's goal to create an EV for the masses.  By doing so, more people can actually experienced the joy of driving a EV and how wonderful it is not to have ever buy gas again.  I really don't mind the wait as long as the result is achieved.  The result hopefully would be the extinction of ICE.

LL: So, you will have 4 EVs by then?

AC: We plan to sell our current EVs to make space available for the Model 3s, when they arrive.

LL: I see. Well, that’s awesome! Thank you so much for your stories and time, it’s very nice chatting with both of you!

AC: Thank you again Locky.

Lydia: Bye bye!

Experience Golf in 4 versions. @Volkswagen Hong Kong
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Model 3 Will Boost Tesla Cars To Be Mainstream In 'Beacon City For Electric Vehicles' @ Forbes