Electric-car maker Tesla is set for a relaunch here in Singapore, with the Model 3 Standard Range expected to start from $145,000.
Tesla set for Singapore relaunch

American electric-car maker Tesla has secured approval to start selling its cars here, which observers reckon could be priced from $145,000 - or less than a petrol-driven Toyota Camry.

A 377kW Tesla Model 3 Performance and 239kW Model 3 Standard Range appeared on the Land Transport Authority's fuel economy comparison site last week. The site typically lists cars from manufacturers and their authorised agents, and not parallel importers.

According to the site, both the Tesla Model 3s were given the best A1 Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES) banding, which entails a tax break of $25,000, together with an Electric Vehicle Early Adoption Incentive that accords another rebate of up to $20,000.

The A1 VES banding caused surprise in some quarters, as electric cars of similar power outputs such as the Porsche TaycanAudi e-tron and Jaguar I-PACE all had A2 banding, which comes with a $15,000 tax rebate. Since last month, all electric cars have qualified for the Electric Vehicle Early Adoption Incentive.

Based on an estimated open market value (OMV, or car cost before taxes) of $44,000 for the Model 3 Standard Range and $62,000 for the Model 3 Performance, the two cars could be priced from $145,000 and $215,000 respectively. This is after taking into account additional registration fee, excise duty, registration fee, goods and services tax, certificate of entitlement, road tax for the first year and profit margin.

"These prices are feasible based on the estimated OMVs," said one motor trader. "But how much they will be eventually depends on how much profit Tesla wants to make - not forgetting that it intends to build its own charging infrastructure here, which isn't cheap."

The appearance of two Tesla models on the LTA fuel economy comparison site means the California-based company led by Mr. Elon Musk is almost ready to reopen for business. According to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, Tesla Motors Singapore Holdings hired a Singaporean as company secretary last July.

Tesla first set up shop here in mid-2010, but left in early 2011 because it failed to secure green tax breaks. But in March 2016, the company told The Straits Times that it planned to return. This was then followed by controversial tweets by Mr. Musk, who declared that Singapore was unsupportive of electric cars and unwelcoming of Tesla.

Then in February 2020, the Government announced new measures to encourage the adoption of cleaner vehicles, including the Electric Vehicle Early Adoption Incentive and the setting up of more electric charging points. Soon after, Tesla starting posting Singapore job openings on LinkedIn. Last month, it included Singapore in its global network of high-speed chargers.

According to LTA statistics, there are 41 Tesla cars here as at end-2020. All are parallel imports. They are among 1,217 electric cars on the road, which account for 0.2% of the total cars here.