Vladimir Putin said he can see himself behind the wheel of one of Elon Musk’s Tesla electric cars as the world shifts toward greener forms of transport, though he thinks vehicles that run on gas would be better for saving the planet.
“Why not?” the Russian president replied when asked if he’d be willing to buy a Tesla during a discussion at an energy forum in Moscow on Wednesday. “What do you think -- that we’ll only be riding in carts or something? No, we won’t be riding in carts. Or on tanks?”
Putin said he likes the “light, fast and efficient” electric cars that he’s been shown by U.S. and Japanese producers. While the cars are environmentally friendly, fossil fuels, particularly coal, are used to generate the electricity to charge their batteries, he said.
“That’s why a motor fuel such as natural gas, in our view, is ultimately much more environmentally friendly than electric cars,” Putin said. Russia is among the world’s largest producers of natural gas and many people drive vehicles that run on the fuel.
Putin has a passion for cars and once took former U.S. President George W. Bush for a drive in his vintage Soviet Gaz-21 at his residence outside Moscow. He took a test drive in a Yo-mobile, a Russian hybrid gas and electric car developed by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, in 2011, and drove a Lada Kalina sedan as much as 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) in 2010 to show off an upgraded highway in Russia’s far east.