Will Tesla ever allow Model S to be imported to Canada?

Will Tesla ever allow Model S to be imported to Canada?

A few years ago, Tesla asked the Registrar of Imported Vehicles of Canada to remove Model S from its list of admissible vehicles for import from the United States. This is a rather unusual move -- all of my previous vehicles have been easily importable into Canada with essentially no modification. Seeing how software-focused Model S is, there stands little reason why it wouldn't be able to meet Canadian requirements for DLR/connectivity/etc. -- but there are probably economic reasons why Tesla has done this.

Being a Canadian who is currently living and working in the U.S. and driving a U.S. spec Model S, this creates some worries as I am planning on returning in about 3-4 years time and would prefer having an option to bring my Tesla home with me. There is also another layer of red tape caused by the Model S' inadmissibility -- I cannot legally drive my Model S back into my own country in any circumstance (even holidays/visiting family), as they would have no way to ensure that I don't funnel it into the black market or otherwise keep it in the country indefinitely. It's mildly frustrating that there is simply no way for a person who spends much time in both countries to return home with my Model S.

Do any of you know more in detail why Tesla has such a policy of stopping the U.S. Model S from being exported to Canada by a private party? Does anyone think that Tesla will reverse this policy in the next few years?

Cheers and thanks everyone!

P.S. for those of you wondering why I didn't simply drive a Canadian Model S down here -- insurance would be ridiculously expensive if the vast majority of my use was stateside. In my home province, we have a monopolized universal public auto insurance system that basically results in us getting gouged. Also, I believe most states' DMVs do not allow you to maintain your Canadian plates and registration unless you're here for educational purposes.

Red Sage ca us | 16 december 2015

This has been brought up before. There are some specific requirements for vehicles that are registered in Canada. When a Canadian orders a Model S, it is built in Fremont CA. But it is built to the specifications required in Canada. Slight differences, such as labeling in multiple languages and color of seat belt button and activation of daytime running lights are necessary. There are also other changes that are not readily visible on the cars for full compliance.

It is legal to drive a US spec version of the Model S in Canada. So, if you bought one in Michigan, you could drive it to Québec. And, if you were to somehow accidentally 'forget' to drive it back to the US, it isn't likely that you'd have heavily armed guys repelling from a black helicopter to pay you a visit... But you wouldn't be allowed to sell the same car to someone else in Canada, or register the car in Canada, because it would be noncompliant with the law.

This is no different than for any other vehicle on the market in both Canada and the US.

jeffbai996 | 16 december 2015

Thanks for the answer.

Being admissible for import is not exactly the same as being Canadian-spec, iirc.

Of course cars fresh off the assembly line headed for sale in Canada will be completely up-to-spec, but Canada allows the import of many, many cars that were intended for the US market. For many manufacturers (BMW, Audi, Volvo, Mazda, GM, etc.), basically all of their models from the last 15 years are admissible. There are differences between a Canadian Model S and a US Model S, but surely no more than there would be between an American 325i and a Canadian 325i.

Also I'm well aware it's legal to drive a US-spec Model S in Canada (I've seen them around myself!) -- it just isn't legal for me unless I've imported it, and there's no way to do so. Assuming you're American, you can buy one in Michigan and drive it to Québec, but if I tried the same thing, I would be duly turned away at the border.

Pluto is a Planet | 16 december 2015

I thought you couldn't buy Model S in Michigan? What is this nonsense! /s

Red Sage ca us | 17 december 2015

Pluto is a Planet: Yeah... Make that, " one from your mobile device, via the internet, while in Michigan..."


Red Sage ca us | 17 december 2015

Part I:

jeffbai996: Ah, so it's a case of citizenry for the purchaser. Gotcha.

Red Sage ca us | 17 december 2015

Part II:

I can only think this goes back to Tesla Motors being extremely careful when it comes to legalities of their activities. They have a lot of smart people working for them. I am sure they are aware that historically, the failures of companies like TUCKER and DeLOREAN were not because of their vehicles. It was because of trumped up charges that were brought by the US Government at the Federal level that ruined their reputations, despite their ultimately being cleared of any wrongdoing. The stoppage of operation, freezing of funds, seizure of property that happened while under investigation and facing legal action effectively killed those companies in their infancy.

Red Sage ca us | 17 december 2015

Part III:

Sure, Tesla Motors could probably set up their Production of North American vehicles to the point where anything sold in the US fulfilled Canadian requirements as well... Thus, making it of no consequence to allow US spec cars to be sold to Canadian buyers... That would certainly open up the secondary market for resale of the cars between US and Canadian Owners.

But I expect that is not a priority for the company at this juncture. Right now, Tesla needs to make profit from first hand sales and knows Canadians can buy from them directly. Is there not a CPO program in Canada as well?

jeffbai996 | 17 december 2015

I agree with you -- Tesla is most likely protecting its economic interests and making the most out of the situation while it can.

In response to the first part of III :
I feel it's pretty unlikely Model S will remain inadmissible for import forever. This is simply based on the fact that mainstream auto manufacturers (and customs) allow basically all of their U.S. models to be exported up north, with the rare exception of those models that have major, widespread, and egregious safety lapses or otherwise unsuitable for the roads of Canada. Model S clearly does not fit the bill in either case.

Most vehicles built to NHTSA standards also comply with Canadian standards with minimal modification, especially in the digital age where odometers and onboard computers can easily be switched to metric. As a reputable luxury auto manufacturer with a very keen attention to detail, there is almost no way Tesla deliberately engineered its cars to somehow miss a component that would allow it to be exported to Canada. I sense that Tesla will slowly phase out restrictions to obsolete model years as they become irrelevant to Tesla's bottom line -- like they did with the Roadster. In short, the 'secondary market for resale' that you mentioned is already wide open, just not for Tesla.

In response to II, I'm not entirely convinced Tesla's logic behind restricting imports is because it wants to hedge against risk of a legal scandal on the scale of DeLorean. Besides, the lawsuits relating to DeLorean were because its cash-strapped and desperate founder was set up by the DEA in a drug sting at the height of the War on Drugs (hence why he was later procedurally acquitted on the basis of entrapment). I don't think we'll soon expect Elon Musk to be found complicit in some international drug deal and for his multiple companies to sizzle out.

Canada has a CPO program, but so far is only available in Toronto.

SUN 2 DRV | 23 december 2015

Our US purchased 2007 Prius wasn't eligible for direct import to Canada either.......

Burrowshouse | 25 december 2015

What about the reverse of this situation,i.e. Can a Canadian Model S be imported into the US. Given the current value of Canadian Dollar, I could see this as a lot more likely for any used Model S sales...?

brentchaissonmusic | 25 marts 2016

As a Canadian, I'm literally drooling over the US prices on Model S. 69,000$ for a pre owned. Same car here would be 90,000.