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Tesla confident in Hong Kong market despite end of tax break

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The Wall Street Journal released updated data yesterday on how the elimination of Hong Kong’s vehicle-registration tax waiver for electrics impacted Tesla sales, and the results weren’t stellar.

Data analysis from the publication shows that zero new Tesla Model S sedans and Model X SUVs were registered with the Hong Kong transport department in April after the tax break was discontinued at the start of that month.

In May, five electric cars were registered for the whole month.

Tesla sales boomed before the April 1 rule change, with 2,939 Tesla vehicles registered in March, making for a total of nearly 3,700 for the first quarter of 2017. The end of the tax break was announced in February.

tesla-right-hand-drive-hong-kong-1000x60

Source: Tesla Media

A Tesla representative told Business Insider that the EV giant welcomed government policies making “it easier for more people to buy electric vehicles,” but that it wasn’t dependent on tax concessions for its livelihood.

“Hong Kong remains a significant market for Tesla, and we continue to sell cars there each quarter,” Tesla said. “When the Hong Kong government reduced the tax exemption for electric vehicles and increased the cost of our cars by nearly 100%, it’s to be expected that demand will be impacted in the period immediately following the change, particularly because of the large number who bought just prior to the change being implemented.”

EV consumers in many markets benefit from government incentives. Tesla says on its website that U.S. purchasers are eligible for a $7,500 federal income tax credit, plus additional incentives in select states.

Tesla also sells state zero-emissions vehicle credits to automakers that don’t reach government fuel efficiency standards.

The end of the tax exemption “has really put the brakes on electric-vehicle adoption in Hong Kong,” said Mark Webb-Johnson, a founder of Charged Hong Kong, in an interview with Fox Business.

The news comes amid Tesla increasing its presence in Asia with early plans to build a Gigafactory and manufacture cars in Shanghai’s tech sector.

Despite the lower sales, Tesla still seems bullish on the Eastern market.

“Tesla absolutely believes that the Hong Kong market will continue to be very strong over the long term because it’s clear that the people in Hong Kong love our cars,” the company said in a statement.

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