ELECTRIC CARS

Tesla is coming to SA, says Elon Musk

SA-born billionaire reveals in a tweet that his electric-car brand will be here by the end of 2019

12 December 2018 - 09:25 By Denis Droppa
Tesla Model S, which in Ludicrous Mode is able to outsprint just about any petrol-powered supercar. Picture: NETCARSHOW
Tesla Model S, which in Ludicrous Mode is able to outsprint just about any petrol-powered supercar. Picture: NETCARSHOW

Elon Musk revealed in a tweet yesterday that he would likely launch his electric Tesla cars in South Africa in a year’s time.

The billionaire entrepreneur has until now been coy about the possibility of selling Teslas in his country of birth, but in reply to a tweeted question from a follower on December 11 as to when the brand might arrive here, Musk tweeted: “Probably end of next year”.

Musk (47) left SA for North America almost 30 years ago and co-founded Tesla as a manufacturer of electric cars, prior to also setting up SpaceX and the Boring Company.

Elon Musk's tweeted response to @fluffypony, when asked about the possibility of launching Tesla in SA.
Elon Musk's tweeted response to @fluffypony, when asked about the possibility of launching Tesla in SA.

Tesla would be the fourth automaker to introduce all-electric cars in SA after Nissan (Leaf), BMW (i3), and Jaguar (which will launch its I-Pace here next year), although uptake of battery cars has in this country has been very slow so far.

The Tesla Roadster launched in 2008 (and now discontinued) was the first production car to use lithium-ion battery cells and the range has grown to include the Model S luxury sedan, Model X luxury SUV, and more recently Tesla’s cheapest car: the Model 3 midsize executive sedan.

Tesla hasn’t stated which of these models would be coming to SA or hinted at prices, but let’s have a look at the line up in more detail:

MODEL S

This is a large luxury electric five-door liftback introduced in 2012. Versions powered by a 100 kWh battery pack have a claimed range of 539km on a single charge – higher than any other electric car.

The range-topping all-wheel drive P100D version, using its "Ludicrous Mode" hardware package, is able to sprint from 0-97km/h in just 2.3 seconds, beating most petrol-powered supercars. It has a top speed of 250km/h.

The Model S has sold over 250,000 units globally and is the second most-sold electric car in history after the Nissan Leaf.

In the US the Tesla Model S range is priced between $75,000 (R1.07m) and $94,000 (R1,34m), but they would sell for significantly more than that in SA with the addition of a 25% import duty and other costs.

The seven-seater Tesla Model X has falcon-wing doors providing access to the rear seats. Picture: NETCARSHOW
The seven-seater Tesla Model X has falcon-wing doors providing access to the rear seats. Picture: NETCARSHOW

MODEL X

This is a seven-seater electric luxury crossover best known for its falcon-wing doors which provide access to the second and third row seats. Launched in 2015, the Model X has a claimed 475 km maximum range and has sold over 106,000 units worldwide.

The flagship P100D derivative with a 100 kWh battery hits 0-97km/h in just 2.9 seconds.

US pricing for the Model X ranges between $79,500 (R1.13m) and $140,000 (R2m).

The Model 3 is Tesla's newest electric car and also its most affordable. Picture: NETCARSHOW
The Model 3 is Tesla's newest electric car and also its most affordable. Picture: NETCARSHOW

MODEL 3

After being beset by numerous production delays, the Model 3 sedan went on sale last year as Tesla’s most affordable car.

Available in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive derivatives, it has a range of up to 499 km. The top-of-the range version scoots from rest to 97km/h in 3.3 seconds and has a top speed of 250km/h.

The Model 3 is pitched as an electric car for the masses and has become the top-selling electric car in the US with over 114,000 sold to date. Prices start at around $35,000 (R500,000).

Teslas can be slowly recharged at a normal wall socket or much quicker at ‘supercharger’stations which take about 20 minutes to charge the car to 50%, 40 minutes to charge to 80%, and 75 minutes to 100%.

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