Tesla's Singapore registrations bounce back in Nov after Oct's heavy slump

Derryn Wong

Tesla Singapore’s registrations fell from 314 in September to just 25 units in October 2021, but jumped back up to 252 in November 2021

SINGAPORE – American carmaker Tesla is the leading EV brand in Singapore, but its registrations have seen a big fluctuation in the fourth quarter of 2021.

It was its registrations here fall from 314 units in September down to just 26 units in October, which represents a drop of 288 units, or 91.7 percent. However the following month, it saw 252 registrations in November, an increase of 103 percent.

American EV brand was getting into full swing with its official-import deliveries, registering 165 units in August, and another 314 units in September. Prior to that, there were 38 registrations in the first seven months of the year, mostly parallel imports.

Why the massive fluctuations? Industry observers say it could be because of the way Tesla handles Certificates of Entitlement (COEs). A COE is needed to register a motor vehicle here, obtained through the COE bidding system.

Most authorised dealers sell the car as a package which includes COE bidding for a fixed time (eg X rounds of bidding, there are two rounds per month), or a guaranteed COE where a customer pays a premium and the dealer absorbs the cost of any COE fluctuations. Totally lost? Read point four of our COE mythbusting story for a simple explanation.

Check out COE price trends at

Tesla also bids for customers’ COEs but is limited to a maximum of 15 percent above the current COE price level – so with the Category B COE (which Teslas belong to) COE rising steadily from around S$56k to the current level of S$80k, it means fewer Teslas being registered.

This makes more sense given how many cars Tesla put on the road in October – which could have itself been a contributor to COE price rises in Cat B. As CarBuyer analysed, COEs have reached multi-year highs in November but the buyers of Cat A cars are much less accepting of high COE prices now.

Another reason for the drop could be the chip shortage, which has affected car production and hence car deliveries across the globe – even in Singapore. While car brands CarBuyer spoke to earlier this year said deliveries look to be largely on track, on-the-ground reports from those who have purchased cars have seen multi-month delays from as early as February this year.

Tesla is probably the best-known EV brand in the world at this point, but it’s not without its fair share of controversy including the safety of its cars, the misleading use of the term ‘Full Self Driving’, and allowing drivers to play computer games while driving.

Singapore’s first and largest EV event, EV Weekend, just ended: Here’s what you missed and here’s why it’s caused such a buzz

For Tesla globally, the brand recently posted a record third quarter despite the chip shortage, as CEO Elon Musk branded the chip shortage a ‘short term problem’ – but even Tesla has had to cope by delivering cars without USB ports.

But even with this dramatic dip in registrations, Tesla is still very likely the top brand when it comes to sales of purely electric passenger vehicles, and is doing well even by any standards. Its fourth quarter sales from July to November now stand at 765, meaning it’s outsold brands such as Nissan (583) and even Mazda (716). However Tesla enters the market at precisely the right time, with significant rebates of up to S$45,000 for EVs, and high COE prices which typically mean a drop in mainstream car brand sales.

READ MORE: Earlier this year Tesla opened its first showroom at Raffles City.


Analysis electric electrified EV sales shortage tesla

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's chief editor brings 15 years of experience in automotive journalism. Previously, he was the editor for Top Gear Singapore, and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment. He's contributed to The Business Times, Today, and many other publications, and also covered technology as editor of Stuff magazine. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he is the Chief Slave of two cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong

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