Is It A Good Fit? Elon Musk’s New Tesla Electric Car Headed To South Africa.

Written by Dana Sanchez

At least one South African is among the 250,000-or-so Tesla fans worldwide who paid $1,000 deposits in the first three days after its unveiling to buy Elon Musk’s newest electric car, the Model 3 — price tag: $35,000 US, MotorBurn reported.

Musk said in a tweet that South Africa is one of seven countries that will get the Model 3. Production set to begin in 2017 for delivery in 2018, IndependentOnline reported.

More than 250,000 orders were placed for the new electric car in the first three days after Musk unveiled it on March 31 in the U.S., according to MotorBurn. Tesla fans camped out overnight outside Tesla stores across California in scenes reminiscent of the launch of Apple products, Reuters reported.

Along with South Africa, BRICS countries India and Brazil are also on the list of “haves” for the car, as are South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, and Ireland, InsideEVs reported.

Earlier in 2015, Tesla told htxt it had no plans to bring Tesla vehicles to South Africa.

With a starting price of $35,000, the Model 3 is Tesla’s most affordable electric car to date by U.S. standards. That doesn’t make it affordable or even sensible for South Africa, where it’s considered a luxury car, ITWeb reported.

Tesla wants to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy and transport, CEO Musk said. He wants to reduce CO2 emissions and toxic gasses from combustion vehicles.

South Africa-born Musk and his Silicon Valley-based company plan in 2016 to open an office in Cape Town. The office will be run by Evan Rice, former CEO of GreenCape, an organisation formed to help develop the market for renewable energy in the Western Cape, htxt reported.

Tesla also plans to build a gigafactory in Cape Town to produce the Powerwall batteries.

Musk attended Pretoria Boys’ High School, and then had higher education in Canada and the U.S. He is the co-founder of PayPal and the founder of aerospace engineering company SpaceX.

The base Tesla Model 3 will have a range of 346 kilometers (215 miles) per charge and go from zero to 62 mph in less than six seconds.

Generally, electric cars are not a good fit for South Africa, where electricity costs are going up and infrastructure is lacking for charging electric cars, according to ITWeb.

“The South African mass market is not ready for electric cars,” said Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of business technology research company World Wide Worx. “The charging ecosystem does not exist here in terms of infrastructure as well as mindset.”

That’s why earlier attempts to sell electric cars in SA — the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 — produced low sales. “The cost is too high relative to the value,” Goldstuck told ITWeb.

Fear is another motivating deterrent, said Liron Segev, tech analyst and consultant. Drivers worry they’ll run out of power while travelling.

“In a place like SA, where the distances are vast, this anxiety is enhanced compared to places where you live and work in the city and the travel distances are short,” Segev told ITWeb.

There would have to be charging stations at places where South Africans leave their cars – like shopping malls and office parking lots — for electric cars to be successful in the country, he said.

High electricity costs and spotty service are other deterrents for the mass market, Segev said.  “What if you need to charge your car but your area doesn’t have power that night? Also, does the price of charging the car outweigh the price of fuel by that much?”

In the U.S., there are tax incentives to use battery operated vehicles. South Africa isn’t there yet, said Sasha Naryshkine, portfolio manager at Johannesburg-based Vestact.

“So the (sales) price might well be less than ($35,000) — as much as $10,000 less,” Naryshkine told ITWeb.
The number of pre-orders puts less than a small dent in the overall car market, she said. “What it does represent, is that the company changes from selling a luxury model only, to a well-priced vehicle for people that are well-to-do. This vehicle costs the same as a BMW 3 series. It hardly has ‘mass appeal.'”