Tesla in South Africa

Tesla in South Africa

I am curious if Tesla has any plans to open a store in South Africa? Elon's birthplace is a beautiful place with a critical mass of high end buyers able to afford a Model S but sadly it is one of the worst run and most dangerous countries on earth... Not a great place to do business and insane import duties for cars... Maybe after the UK version is out? I wonder if Elon ever gets sentimental for the place. Southern Africa (Zuid Afrika, Rhodesia, Namibia and Botswana) has a way of getting in your blood like no other place does, even if you were not born there... Amazing place, wonderful people (98% of them) but bloody dangerous! I was attacked in broad daylight in J'burg last visit. But can still remember the beauty of the Cape and warmth of the common people from every walk of life from setting out along the garden route to the mines at Kitwe...

jonathansmith | 22. Januar 2013

I am also waiting for Tesla to open in South Africa. Lets hope for the best | 22. Januar 2013

"...wonderful people (98% of them)..."

That leaves, according to 2011 stats, over 1M not-so-wonderful people. I don't like those odds.

FLsportscarenth... | 23. Januar 2013

That 2% or so can really ruin a country if there is no effective rule of law... So sad, first Rhodesia, now South Africa...

Thought of a great billboard for the N1, an image of Elon Musk and Mark Shuttleworth with a caption "Reach for the stars South Africa"

NumberOne | 24. Januar 2013

All I can say is that I am glad I live in the US. If I still lived in SA owning a Tesla might never have been more than a dream. Cars are more than double the cost in SA than in the US because of those ridiculous import duties. Still, there are assembly plants there. For example the Mercedes C class is assembled in SA for the Southern African market. A Tesla in South Africa could easily top R1,000,000, and that would be the base Model S. The exchange rate almost becomes irrelevant. Fuel is also very expensive (electricity too, but nothing like petroleum.) Perhaps when GenIII comes along there will be a chance.

Brian H | 26. Januar 2013

SA is governed stupidly. Hope the USA doesn't continue heading that way.

FLsportscarenth... | 28. Januar 2013

@Brian H Agree 100%, SA deserves so much better...

Pungoteague_Dave | 28. Januar 2013

Interesting factoid: 90% of worlwide GDP occurs north of the equator. I learned this when asking a major logstics company why they don't operate in South America, Australia, or Africa. The distances are great and transport costs exorbinate. For many businesses, the numbers make it not worth the hassle.

Timo | 28. Januar 2013

About 90% of people are north of the equator. Globe is a odd place.

Benz | 29. Januar 2013

First of all the government of a country should see the value of Sustainable Energy. It starts with a vision, and the strategy will follow.

zanokuhle | 29. Januar 2013

The question is not if we'll see Tesla in SA, but when. And the answer to that is, when we learn how to translate opportunity into action.

It's said adversity breeds creativity (among many other things). We've had our fair share of the former in SA, but we've also had a good number of South Africans to look up to who've dared to do more than dream: Mandela, Tutu, Charlize Theron, Miriam Makeba, and Iron Man himself (Elon Musk) to name but a few...

Indeed, there are many issues plaguing SA right now but there are a more than enough people here who - like myself - are hungry to make positive things happen. I'm extremely keen to see SA's 1st Tesla shop open up, whenever that'll be (pick me, Elon!) and to see SA become a country that fosters creativity like never before.

So I hope it'll be in the next 10 years or so (I should be able to afford on by then)!

Benz | 29. Januar 2013

Mighty Africa is such an important (resources), beautiful (nature) and large part of the world. The Chinese understand that very well. The people of this continent deserve so much better. Democracy has to prevail over tyranny. People with a vision of how to make things better (for all the people) have to step forward and show leadership. Education of people is very important. And more and more people are getting an education these days. At least more than say few years ago.

Brian H | 29. Januar 2013

The reason the Southern Hemisphere is thinly populated is that it's so wet. When floating cities get going, that may change. ;)

The Musk family live in SA for one generation. Elon hated it, and left as fast as possible. All the rest followed him, because he was obviously the "genius of the family".

I see no sign in Africa's politics that it has any chance of being more than a human zoo for centuries. What a mess.

Benz | 29. Januar 2013

It sure is a mess. But it can change for the better. And that would take a few decades, not centuries (I think).

zanokuhle | 30. Januar 2013

A human zoo? Wow...

Benz | 30. Januar 2013

Maybe you should not take that too literally. I think that Brian means that when people hurt other people than those people actually are acting like animals. Something like that (I think, but I could be wrong about it).

Timo | 30. Januar 2013

A big part of the problems in Africa are actually caused by Europeans. You know the era when ignorant leaders here dreamed about conquest and because of superior military techs could do pretty much anything they wanted for technically less developed countries.

There they were, with a map and a ruler:

"you take this one, I'll take this and you can have that"

making borders and dividing continent without any consideration about real cultural or traditional borders and without any concern about what that might do to people that lived there. This same situation is still there centuries after Europeans left the place.

Benz | 30. Januar 2013

History of mankind tells us that many bad things have happened in the past. And we can easily tell from the history books who is to be blamed for each of those bad things. Instead, we should learn from the mistakes of the past. As long as there are no Time-Machines, we cannot change what has happened in the past. Wait a minute, maybe this is a new idea for Elon Musk? Transportation into the past, and offcourse with the possibility of going back to the future again. That's even more interesting than going to Mars. Maybe he can invent an electric device for time-traveling. We do not need to worry about charging them, because the Superchargers are coming soon.

Leave the past for what it is, we should think about how we can do better in the future. Communication and interaction between people is crucial, because the vast majority of the people should head into the right/good direction. The internet is very useful in this proces, as it has now become the central nerv system of mankind (for information, education, communication and interaction).

zanokuhle | 31. Januar 2013

Nicely said, Benz. Maybe it'll be a standard feature in Teslas someday.

What you say is true. If it weren't for such forms of communication, I might not have known anything about Tesla.

And to try answer the original question - I really, hope to own and enjoy a Tesla (or 5) in my lifetime so I really hope to see a store open up in SA soon (and to make enough money to afford one, sooner!)

Benz | 31. Januar 2013

It would be real nice if all the people on this planet (and in the longer future, on Mars as well) could afford to drive in a Tesla EV.

acambitsis | 23. März 2013

I would love a Tesla here in SA. Who is keen to get a dealership going? Maybe we lobby government for import duty relief on electric cars? Maybe we set-up a plant to build them locally for the left hand drive market?
And remember despite the price hikes our electricity is still cheaper than the likes of Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and overall I think we are still in the cheapest 50th percentile world wide.
Regardless its still cheaper by far than using petrol or diesel.
Anyone know when the Nissan Leaf is meant to be launching in SA? I heard this year.

Brian H | 23. März 2013

Tesla doesn't do "dealerships", only display stores and service centers, all staffed by employees. That's a problem in many jurisdictions that assume or mandate dealerships.

FLsportscarenth... | 01. April 2013

A service centre in Sandton (rich Johannesburg suburb) could service southern and eastern Africa after right hand drive starts production. There is money to be made in Africa, IF the ZA government gave a break on the ridiculous import tariffs for BEVs (ZA domestic market), helping make the Sandton store work would be special deliveries to countries to the north with lower average incomes but wealthy elites... Saw a lot of brand new BMWs and Land Rovers in Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam and Gaberone. Buyers may need extra care in some of the countries (to clear customs and receive their Model S or Model X in one piece) but the money is there...

FLsportscarenth... | 01. April 2013


Well if you know a well connected ANC MP maybe you could get the tariffs changed for BEVs to the benefit all south Africans. There is not enough of a local market for BEVs to be produced in ZA but I think there is enough market to support a retail presence even for a high end BEV like the Model S or X - if the tariffs were relaxed...

ESKOM has a very dirty and sometimes unreliable grid (saw that the wind nameplate production capacity in the Eastern Cape actually dropped!), but as they add more wind (saw a 100MW project in planning), Tesla's presence will become even more beneficial.

Really, you want a Leaf? Come on, Go Tesla! Do not even bother with that ugly duckling! If you can not afford a Tesla yet buy an Opel Ampera!

zanokuhle | 23. Mai 2013

Well my hand's to get involved when Tesla comes to SA. Elon started Tesla in the states with all the odds stacked up against him. What's to say it won't work here (touch wood)? ;-)

Brian H | 23. Mai 2013

Actually, he migrated from SA to his mother's native country, Canada, as a teenager to escape SA's lack of opportunity, and get easier access to the US, where there was maximum opportunity -- for brains to succeed. Which he proceeded to prove. And continues to prove.

4humanity | 23. Mai 2013

He sure did, and while in Canada spent 2 years going to Queens university. Where we thrive on history and innovation.

He has been quoted as saying he only chose Queens because of the women. lol It's also where he met his first wife. Hope it hasn't left a bad taste in his mouth. Kingston's still proud to of had you here!

In 1988, Queens won the Canadian version of the world solar challenge in Canada with their solar car, and has always had great programs.

r1backman | 07. Oktober 2013

Tesla Model S is the future of personal transport. Come to South Africa and I will buy a Model S immediately.

exelby | 12. Oktober 2013

I find the general "DOOM-Sayer" attitude of this thread towards South Africa extremely disheartening. I am proudly South African and we need electric vehicles, our economy is VERY alive and is thriving.

BMW, Lexus, and Nissan will all be selling EV's in SA in 2014.

My take on the matter is that the South African market is too small for Tesla to target as a growth point. It would be awesome if Elon Musk had a real philanthropic urge to make a difference in his homeland. The spirit of Africa is undeniable, hopefully his heart will listen to its cries. We need good people.

EvaP | 13. Oktober 2013

South Africa started out on the wrong foot after end of apartheid. Those who have committed crimes, tortured, killed, burned people alive, never got punished. I have seen horrendous videos on thugs attacking blacks and literally burning them alive. He was interviewed (why wasn't he in jail?) and said they were drunk and were laughing at how much fat a human body contains. They could actually hear the fat burning while the burning person was running and screaming.
Sorry for the too disturbing picture, but those blacks in SA had to watch how those criminals got away unpunished. That MUST have affected their morals. There must be a wish for justice among those who have been harmed and who must feel they have been let down by the Mandela government.

Cruel as it sounds, they should have started out jailing and executing the people who committed these crimes against the black population. They should have put the colonialist government leaders to jail and even execute them for committing crimes against humanity. They were just like Hitler. Only, they did not do the crimes, but condoned and encouraged them.
I am absolutely sure that this built-up resentment must be part of the chaos and disorder, add to it the influence of the influence of the surrounding countries in turmoil.
My point is: You can't have order until you have cleaned up the past. Preaching peace and hiding it doesn't work.
There was a time when I wanted to move to SA. Watching those old videos, I am sure I didn't.

Let's hope that the next governments will do something about cleaning up the mess, instead of just sweeping it under the rug.

Pungoteague_Dave | 13. Oktober 2013

Having spent months in Africa, it is quite clear that there is virtually zero infrastructure sufficient to support EV's as primary transportation. My wife and I motorcycled through twelve countries from Kenya and south to Cape of Good Hope for two months this summer. The vast majority of the between-city living areas in these countries have no electricity grid. None. Most of the villages we visited in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Burundi, Zambia, and even South Africa, have generators that are shared between four or five villages. They are turned on (usually near a central town well) for two or three hours per day in order to charge cell phones.

Many of the gas stations had run out of fuel and were closed, and the ones that were open had generators to power the pumps. We often had to buy gasoline illegally on the black market, from scary guys with sketchy looking jugs. No way is any EV remotely practical for use in subsaharan Africa except in the biggest cities like Dar Es Salaam, Cape Town, and Johannesburg, and there only for local use. There is simply no place to charge, nor any basic infrastructure to support installing chargers. Anything the size of our Model S is impractical in the larger cities and would be torn up on the potholes and gravel/mud road stretches that are ubiquitous throughout this part of the world. If you ever experience the traffic in Dar Es Salaam, Kampala, Nairobi, Kigali, or even Johannesburg, you will understand why small SUV's, sccoters, small displacement motorcycles, mini-cars, bicycles and walking dominate transportation for a reason. Cape Town was virtually the only place in Subsaharan Africa that we visited where owning an EV might be reasonable, but it would be impossible to drive very far from the city.

GuyDormehl | 16. Oktober 2013

As a South African (proud) I pondered whether to add to this thread but eventually the glib and inaccurate and generally negative comments got me going!

Much as I enjoy Brian H's Tesla comments, I am astonished by some of his 'political/environmental' statements! Uh? Africa a 'human zoo'- unacceptable Brian.....

And Elon 'hating' SA? Not what I read - more escaping military service and a limited techno future.

EvaP's suggestions of 'revenge' at the end of apartheid would only have led to civil war and hell - Syria; Libya; etc anyone? We may have pockets of unacceptable levels of violence but we still generally function as a country - not a warzone.

Sure SA is poorly ruled and has a disagreeable government but hands up all those who think their governments/politicians are honourable; clean; honest; altruistic; hard-working; not self-interested etc (not too many hands - thought so!)

We all survive DESPITE our governments not because of them....
Sadly democracy is a biggest sham that has been perpetrated on the world - vote for these crooks or those! And then they use our own money to keep us 'in our place' - aided and abetted by the media and big business. It is just tyranny by a 'soft name'..........

Pun_Dave unfortunately seems to have travelled in Africa with jaundiced 'first-world' eyes and did not appreciate the warmth; humour; resilence and beauty of Africa.

Yes SA had a bad patch of rolling elec black-outs in the mid-late 2000's but generally the power supply throughout the country is fairly consistent (hands up any countries that never have elec shut-downs - hmm thought so...!)Indeed rolling out elec supply throughout SA was one of the causes of the rolling black-outs - along with strong economic growth.

Nissan and BMW are bringing EVs to SA soon - even though there are few charging stations so they assume people will charge at home. Anyway the car manufacturers (or business) should be responsible for charging stations if they want EVs to function and grow - why should the public purse carry the cost??

I believe that by the time EVs have taken over from the ICE-age; Africa will be the powerhouse continent and the debt-ridden; self-indulgent; over-extravagant 'first world' will be mopping up their messes........!

Viva Elon (even if he hates SA..!)

EvaP | 16. Oktober 2013

Sorry GuyDormehl,

Didn't mean to hurt anybody's feelings. People are not identical with their governments. No country is perfect. And South Africa seems to be the most advanced in whole Africa.

What bothered me was that criminals have not been punished, but I understand. It is better so.

And you are right about democracy. I used to say that choosing between two people is not freedom of choice. People usually choose the lesser evil.

Good luck to you and hopefully you can enjoy your Teslas pretty soon!

Brian H | 17. Oktober 2013

What would you prefer? Traditional African Big Man rule? Like Mugabe?

GuyDormehl | 17. Oktober 2013

Thanks EvaP! I am saving for a second hand MS (or X) if only I can import it here without huge duties. We will install PV panels here to run it FREE - range would be fine for 95% of our use.

We have beautiful roads in a beautiful area (Garden Route if you've been here)so would love to swan along in an EV.

But I intend to never buy another ICE-age car (even if I have to get a Leaf/i3...!)

sales | 24. Oktober 2013

Primarily I would like to address the readers of this particular post. South Africa a state in Africa is far much better than most states in America. Africans don't hurt others the incidences you all here or see are so incorrect. Do not be deceived. America kills people, starts wars just because they are a super power. We have our own resources and brains.

South Africa is not a day behind in any technologies from the states. Hence it is safe to say I would rather Tesla will make more money selling cars in South Africa alone than any other country, as an African I am more than willing to trade a Distributor/reseller of Tesla at my own expense. In two months almost the entire country will be owning a Tesla.Taking into consideration South Africa's Johannesburg is a combination of Africa 55 states of Africa with out a doubt all would want to drive a Tesla. There is no country or continent that more hungry for technology than South Africa. It is combined knowledge from all over the continent and the entire globe. South Africans are not blinkered hence they seek to know.

This technology is needed in Africa more hence it would be more profitable. I have been selling cars in South Africa and I know. BMW knows that, VW knows that, Chrysler and Ford Too, my father works at an assembly factory belong to Ford and there is a lot to talk about. South Africa has all classes of people and Tesla would have to diversify but that is where the money is. In America things are easy given the technology and position both literal and figuratively. Africa is a great place to invest on technology because it is not there locally. That is my opinion. Today man garages a locally owned franchises but to the benefit of the manufacturer.

Non the less should it not be possible to sell Tesla cars I would like to buy a Tesla for myself at this early stage of production.

I would like to know if they are any legal limitations of owning a Tesla in South Africa? Can I pay cash for my Tesla? Can I resell Tesla? In conclusion this is a business platform I doubt not a Facebook look alike to discuss politics. Hence a favourable response will be greatly appreciated

I would like to know if they are any legal limitations of owning a Tesla in South Africa?
Can I pay cash for my Tesla an Have it sent to South Africa?
Can I resell Tesla?

SupaMonkey | 23. Dezember 2013

Back on topic, I too would love to see Tesla in South Africa. The co-founder is South African born, will he forget about us?
With the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 available locally now, I still would prefer the Tesla options.

Please come to SA!

Second Skin

Haeze | 23. Dezember 2013

I am sure there is a plan to do so, but it is not a large market. Currently Tesla is expanding to all of the largest auto markets (like China), and/or the ones that have the best incentives to Electric Vehicle adoption (like Norway).

For South Africa to work its way up that list, the best you could do is start a movement to convince your politicians to support EV adoption by investing in charging capabilities, and Tax/Import fee exceptions for EVs.

francois | 19. Mai 2014

Wow,,, what a bunch of total bigots, South Africa, without any doubt would be able support Tesla recharging stations within months.. Comments made include "villages that share generators???".... You Twat..... Elon, why don't you tell these Idiots to shut-up?. That comment alone (after all the other BS self righteous crap that I have had to read in this thread) has convinced me to leave you cocooned maggots to yourself and rather not spoil you World of Warcraft gaming time.

Anyway, Tesla should come to South Africa, if you are at all interested, you have my details. Political Party + Biggest Car Dealerships etc?..... Sounds like a plan right? Then well show these Conceited drivels how its done.

Yes, I played Rugby.

Brian H | 19. Mai 2014

Political + Dealerships is the last thing TM wants or needs.

NumberOne | 19. Mai 2014

There are many issues in South Africa that people are ignoring. I think that Tesla would do well there, but only once Gen III becomes available. The car is priced well over R700 000 not including the really high tariffs. With import duties, VAT etc., the price will be well over R1 000 000 and that is for the 60kWh model. This is where the first problem lies, because if you want to open up a market, one has to sell quite a few cars not just5 or 6. Sure, there are more than 6 people in SA that can afford the Model S, but they do not all need or want a new car right this minute. A big plus in SA would be the fact that it is nearly impossible to steal the Model S.

The next problem is the inability of the Electricity Supply Commission, to meet electrical demand. Rolling blackouts are not uncommon, and during this past year (When there were significant rain storms) even the International Airport in Johannesburg was shut down. Not because of the rain mind you, but because they had no power.

Defend SA all you want, and call me what you want also, but from a practical standpoint, currently available models of Tesla are simply too expensive, and the infrastructure just is not there. If you can afford it, by all means, get a right hand drive Model S from the UK. That is just about the only way to do it, and it is doable.

Biko - Hani | 01. Juni 2014

Brian H, The only mistake one will ever do is to condemn African while not being aware that the first world countries benefits a lot from Africa and still show no appreciation for that. The only thing they do is to preach the same gospel of poverty in Africa being the one caused and causing poverty in Africa. Let be careful, South Africa would have been a better country if the world had justice. Tesla you have growth in Africa, let no one ruin it.

Biko - Hani | 01. Juni 2014

Indeed South Africans do not punish people who did great crimes i.e. The colonial government - left natives in poverty and hunger, greatest of all is the mental oppression that a man of colour has even today in South Africa. It not easy to escape this - I know it, I live it everyday. So please get yourself informed. I hope this will harm correctly if it does. An eagle judgement is never enough better come to the ground and see.

NumberOne | 01. Juni 2014

There are many people who are bigots, and still those who think that others are bigots and will never bury their hatchet. This forum is about cars. Not politics. The history of much of the world is not pretty, but it is behind us. It is easy to think other people have it so wonderful, but the truth is from an outside perspective you really never know. Life does not always seem fair, but we should quit throwing stones at ghosts and make the best of what we have. Say what you want about Brian H, but at least his grammar is correct.

South Africa does not currently have a sufficient market for Tesla's Model S, or the soon to be released Model X. Sure there are people who would like one, but that is not enough. Once the generation III model becomes available, hopefully South Africa will provide some EV incentives so that tarriffs are not as high, and hopefully the electrical supply infrastructure will have seen some improvement and then it may also make sense to set up a distribution infrastructure that will include Model S and X.

doug.falconer | 11. Juli 2014

I'd love to see Tesla in South Africa.

Africa's future looks very promising indeed and this is the place gain a foothold.

r1backman | 23. Oktober 2014

Mercedes-Benz S-Class is sold in South Africa.
BMW 7 Series is sold in South Africa.
Audi A8 is sold in South Africa.
Lexus LS is sold in South Africa.
Porsche Panamera is sold in South Africa.

There is little doubt that Model S will also outsell the above in South Africa as it does in the US.

The moment Testa accepts deposits from South Africa for the Model S - you will have mine.

Terry Dee | 23. Oktober 2014

I don't know on what grounds you proclaim South Africa to be one of the worst run and dangerous countries on earth. We are talking about the most democratic country in Africa and the world, economically emerging and progressive nation. We've hosted so many world events that it would border towards trolling if I were to count them one by one. South Africa is a young democracy and I know for sure the young Elon who escaped the systematic apartheid regime in his teen would be proud to see how far we've come.

Now if you are gonna point towards corrupt politicians as a major obstacle and a reason not to consider South Africa as a world player then I say to you show me a squeaky clean politician in the so called 1st world countries.

Im a proud South African and know we've come a long way in such a short period of time and still have a long way to go but it pisses me off when people show such generic, stereotypical and ignorant mentality towards a nation rebuilding.

moremajoseph | 26. November 2014

Elton South Africa is awaiting for Tesla Model S, we have seen is we read about it we even watch it on TV but we want to enjoy the drive feel of the car. we dream the car on papers and screens but will we ever own one? you have a dream please don't make it a nightmare.

we love the car and we can't wait for SA touch down.

moremajoseph | 27. November 2014

please can you guys give us a test drive of the Tesla in South Africa as a start. please let me know when you bringing it in SA.

Brian H | 27. November 2014

Elton John has nothing to do with Tesla. Or Telsa. Or Tucson.

Mel. | 27. November 2014

That is why in the United States we have a Republic..democracies have not worked out that well.