Elon Musk says Singapore isn't supportive of EVs, when maybe it's just Tesla

Tough place to own any kind of car, but it does have pro-EV policies

SINGAPORE — Elon Musk, chief executive of U.S. electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla, defended his view that Singapore was not supportive of EV ownership after a commentary in the city-state's biggest newspaper criticized the billionaire's social media post.

"Singapore is a very prosperous city and yet has very few electric cars," Musk tweeted on Saturday after The Straits Times published an open letter from its senior transport correspondent titled, "Please get off your high horse."

The letter was in response to a Musk tweet a week earlier. In that tweet, Musk responded to a Tesla admirer in Singapore who said he had long dreamt of owning one of its vehicles, and who asked the executive to make them available in the city-state.

"We tried, but Singapore govt is not supportive of electric vehicles," Musk tweeted on May 26.

In the letter, Christopher Tan pointed out Singapore grants EV owners up to S$20,000 ($15,000) in tax breaks, and that drivers would avoid over $10,000 in petrol duty over 10 years. He also called on Tesla to make its cars more affordable.

Singapore's Land Transport Authority did not have immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

In his Saturday response, Musk also said Singapore had enough land area to generate most of its electricity through solar energy. "No more need to import fossil fuels for electricity, which is a strategic vulnerability," he tweeted.

Singapore, site of the scheduled June 12 summit between U.S. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is a densely populated city-state and one of the world's most expensive places to own a car. It controls vehicle population through a system of bidding for the right to own and use a vehicle for a limited number of years.

A mid-range car in Singapore can typically cost four times the price of an equivalent vehicle in the United States. EVs from other manufacturers are available in the country, such as Hyundai Motor Co's IONIQ.

The government has long sought to steer commuters away from the need to buy cars. One of its recent initiatives includes a large-scale EV-sharing program.

This is not the first time Musk has championed Singapore's Tesla fans. In 2016, he contacted the prime minister regarding Tesla cars being subject to a carbon surcharge, local media reported.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan

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