Tesla Car Owners Get $12,000 Shanghai Plates for Free

Tesla Model S
A charging plug sits attached to a Tesla Model S automobile, produced by Tesla Motors Inc., at the Paris Motor Show on the final preview day in Paris, France. Tesla started deliveries of its Model S sedans in China in April. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Tesla Motors Inc. car owners in Shanghai can register their electric vehicles for free after the city exempted them from paying $12,000 for a license plate.

About 400 Tesla owners in Shanghai have received the free plates as part of the city’s efforts to promote the adoption of new-energy vehicles, according to Ma Jing, a vice director of the municipal government’s economy and information commission. Tesla owners also get free license plates in Hangzhou and the automaker is in contact with other cities to get exemptions, said Richard Lan, a Beijing-based company official.

An increasing number of cities in China are restricting the number of new vehicles through lotteries or auctions to contain worsening pollution and traffic congestion. At the same time, the central government is promoting the use of electric vehicles to cut down on emissions and reduce the country’s reliance on fuel imports.

The license-plate exemptions make it easier for Tesla to expand sales in a luxury market that McKinsey & Co. predicts will overtake the U.S. as the largest in the world by 2016.

Tesla started deliveries of its Model S sedans in China in April. The carmaker is expanding its dealerships and charging stations to meet billionaire Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s expectation that China sales may match its U.S. business as early as 2015.

— With assistance by Alexandra Ho

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