Tesla unveils its most affordable electric car Model 3; says it is also slated for Singapore market

Tesla Motors' new Model 3 which was unveiled on March 31 will be available in the Singapore market.
Tesla Motors' new Model 3 which was unveiled on March 31 will be available in the Singapore market.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Tesla Motors boss Elon Musk has announced that the Model 3 - Tesla's most affordable car starting at US$35,000 (S$47,000) - will be available in Singapore.

In a tweet early Friday (April 1), Mr Musk said the car will be available in more countries than before.

The additions include India, Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and Ireland.

The tweet was followed by an unveiling of the Model 3 via live streaming on the company's website.

The car appears to be a fastback sedan that is slightly smaller than the Model S.

Mr Musk says the basic variant will hit 100kmh in less than six seconds, but there will be "versions that go much faster".

The car will have a range of around 400km "at least", and will be fitted with Tesla's "Autopilot" autonomous driving function.

Mr Musk added that it will accommodate five adults "comfortably", and prices will start from US$35,000 (S$47,207).

 
 
 

Based on back-of-envelope calculations, the car could be under $150,000 in Singapore after the carbon rebate.

To loud cheers from a live audience, Mr Musk revealed that Tesla already had 115,000 bookings in the first 24 hours. He said deliveries will begin in 2017.

Tesla Motors' press department was, however, not available for further comment.

The Model 3 is expected to ramp up sales for the Californian electric vehicle maker. The company is shooting to hit 500,000 units by 2020 - 10 times its estimated sales in 2015.

But analysts say it is likely to reach only 250,000, as competition from rival companies increases.

Porsche, Audi and Mercedes-Benz are some of the mainstream automotive players rolling out all-electric models in the next three to five years.

Meanwhile in Singapore, the Land Transport Authority has no update yet on what it intends to do with a lone Tesla Model S that was registered here in early February.

The car was imported by Mr Joe Nguyen, a 44-year-old senior vice-president in an Internet research firm.

Instead of an expected carbon rebate of $30,000, the car was slapped with carbon surcharge of $15,000 - making it the first electric car to be penalised this way.

News of the unusual tax treatment reached Mr Musk, who then contacted Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The Prime Minister's office said various agencies would look into the case. Soon after, the LTA came out to say it would review the case. That was three weeks ago.

Mr Nguyen said he has not heard from the authorities since.

When contacted by The Straits Times, an LTA spokesman said there has been no development since.