Tesla sales screeched to a halt in the last nine months of 2017 in Hong Kong, dubbed a “beacon city” by founder Elon Musk, after the government slashed a tax waiver for electric vehicles.
Touted as the city with the highest number of Teslas per capita by Mr Musk in early 2016, just 32 of the company’s vehicles were registered in Hong Kong between April and December, figures from the transport department showed. That is down from nearly 2,000 in the same period in 2016.
Generous tax breaks had buoyed the sale of Teslas, which are ubiquitous on the streets of Hong Kong. Removal of that break almost doubles the sticker price of a Tesla Model S 75D to HK$1.03m ($132,337).
此前慷慨的税收减免推动了特斯拉的销售，使该公司的电动车在香港街头随处可见。撤销政策优惠使特斯拉Model S 75D的价格接近翻倍，达到103万港元（合13.2337万美元）。
The precipitous drop in sales for Tesla follows similar falls in other jurisdictions, such as Denmark, after the removal of tax breaks. Hong Kong ended the break under pressure from non-electric carmakers and citing overall growth in the number of private cars in the city.
The move also exposes an inconvenient truth for Hong Kong: electricity generation is so dirty on the island that a Tesla car charged there will be responsible for one-fifth more CO2 over its average life than an equivalent petrol guzzler, according to research from Bernstein in 2016.
Hong Kong residents rushed out to buy the premium electric vehicles in March after the first registration tax waiver for electric vehicles was capped at HK$97,500 starting from April 1 2017, bringing the estimated tax on the cheapest Model S to HK$414,035.
A total of 2,939 Teslas were registered in March, higher than the 2,807 vehicles registered in the whole of 2016.
Tesla did not comment on its 2017 Hong Kong sales figures and said it “remains hopeful that the government will continue to encourage more electric vehicles on the road and preserve Hong Kong’s lead in clean, sustainable living”.
Edwin Lee, vice-chairman of Charged Hong Kong, which promotes EVs in the city, said the tax waiver cap came “just as we were beginning to see some take-up of EVs” and removed the incentive to buy the model over an equivalent petrol or diesel car.
在香港推广电动汽车的电动香港(Charged Hong Kong)的副主席李敬恩(Edwin Lee)表示，税收减免上限出台之际，“我们刚开始看到电动车的普及出现一些起色”，新规移除了购买电动车（而非同级别的汽油或柴油车）的激励。
Mr Lee said the move was also at odds with the government’s target of 30 per cent of private cars being electric or hybrid vehicles by 2020. At the end of 2017 1.9 per cent of private cars on the road were EVs.