President Donald Trump may not have yet weighed in on how he feels about Elon Musk’s electric cars, but the Tesla chief can count at least one powerful head of state among his potential customers. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he would be interested in driving a Tesla — with one rather large caveat.

“Why not?” Putin said at an energy forum in Moscow, according to Bloomberg News. “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, however, took issue with one of the most fundamental selling points of the Tesla and other electric vehicles — that they are environmentally friendly. He argued that, since the electric cars are still charged using an energy grid that makes heavy use of coal and oil, they aren’t as clean as their reputation suggests.

“That’s why a motor fuel such as natural gas, in our view, is ultimately much more environmentally friendly than electric cars,” he said. While Putin’s argument isn’t without some merit, it’s also not exactly surprising a head of state would speak in his national interest, and Russia is second only to the United States in global natural gas production.

Exactly how a Tesla would fit into Putin’s car collection is unclear. One report indicates he has as many as 700 cars, while official records only report three automobiles: two Soviet-era Volga cars from the 1960s and a Lada Niva, a popular Russian 4x4.


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