Singapore, once criticized by Elon Musk for not supporting electric vehicles, now plans to phase out fossil fuel-powered vehicles in the city-state by 2040.
The government is planning to offer incentives to encourage the adoption of cleaner vehicles such as hybrids and electric cars, including rebates of up to S$20,000, and will invest to increase the number of electric charging stations on the island to 28,000 by 2030 from about 1,600 now, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said Tuesday in a speech presenting the country’s budget.
“We are placing a significant bet on EVs, and leaning policy in that direction because it is the most promising technology,” Heng said.
Until now, Singapore has been relatively slow to adopt electric vehicles even as government officials acknowledged the country is uniquely suited to them because of shorter driving distances and strict state controls on car ownership.
Singapore had about 1,330 electric vehicles out of a total fleet of 950,000 at the end of last year, according to the Land Transport Authority. Heng said in an interview Wednesday that the nation had previously evaluated shifting toward electric vehicles but decided it was too early then.
“As we monitor the evidence more carefully, we decided this is the direction we want to go,” Heng said. “Once we decide on it, we can then take decisive action.”
Singapore’s earlier reticence prompted Tesla Inc.’s Musk to express his frustration on Twitter, saying in January 2019 that the government was unwelcoming. A Tesla spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment.
In August last year, Singapore’s minister for environment and water resources defended the country’s EV policies against criticism from Musk, saying Singapore wants “proper solutions that will address climate problems.”
Heng said Wednesday in an interview that the country welcomes good options. “If Tesla comes up with even better options, they’re most welcome,” he said.
“Not just Tesla, but any company that is doing any of this, because I believe that there will be innovations coming out in this sector in the coming years,” Heng added.