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Tesla Gaining Popularity In Southeast Asian Countries


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Interest in the Tesla brand increased in some Southeast Asian countries during lockdowns in the region. A study found that interest in Tesla and German brands have increased, taking some attention away from reigning Japanese car manufacturers that usually dominate the auto market in Southeast Asia.

Some of the countries that can be found in Southeast Asia are Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, among others. An aggregator e-commerce platform named iPrice sifted through data on Google search interests and noted which car brands piqued the interest of most Southeast Asian residents from March to May 2020. Most Southeast Asian countries implemented lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between March and May.

Before the pandemic and lockdowns, Honda, Toyota, and Mitsubishi were the car brands most people in Southeast Asia searched for online. iPrice concluded that the Japanese carmakers were popular because Southeast Asians prized affordable, high-quality vehicles.

Honda’s most popular car models were the Civic Typer R, City, Accord, and Jazz. Toyota’s most popular model was the Corolla Altis, while the Eclipse and Attrage were popular with people interested in Mitsubishi vehicles.

Among all the Google searches in Southeast Asia, Tesla came in 5th place. Take note, however, that most Southeast Asian countries are just starting to accept battery electric vehicles and build infrastructure for them. So for Tesla to place 5th in a list that is dominated by ICE-centric brands is quite impressive and shows promise for the EV manufacturer's future in Asia.

Tesla did manage to be the top-searched car brand in two countries, namely Singapore and Hong Kong. Both countries have been steadily transitioning to green energy vehicles and have already proposed a phase-out date for ICE cars.

Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced on February 18, 2020 that the government wants all vehicles to run on green energy by 2040, reported Channel News Asia.

“The domestic transport sector contributes a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Vehicles with internal combustion engines, or ICEs, also contribute to pollution, adversely affecting our health and quality of life,” he said. “For both public health and climate change reasons, we should progressively phase out the use of ICE vehicles towards cleaner alternatives, such as hybrids and [electric vehicles].”

Singapore introduced the EV Early Adoption Incentive (EEAI), which will run from January 1 2021 to January 31, 2023. The rebates from EEAI will cost the government of Singapore an estimated SG$71 million over the next three years.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the government has already introduced incentives to encourage people’s transition from ICE cars to all-electric vehicles. Hong Kong is offering first registration tax (FRT) concessions up to HK$97,500. Residents can get additional FRT concessions worth up to HK$250,000 if they agree to “scrap and de-register an eligible old private car,” stated the Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong.

Based on Hong Kong and Singapore’s move towards green energy vehicles, Tesla’s market share in Asia may be growing. Tesla’s market share in China and South Korea seems to be growing as well. As interest grows, Tesla may need to expand its only Gigafactory in Asia—Giga Shanghai—or build others to meet demand.

About the Author

Ma. Claribelle Deveza

Ma. Claribelle Deveza

Longtime writer and news/book editor. Writing about Tesla allows me to contribute something good to the world, while doing something I love.

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