Elon Musk: Tesla Is Not In South Africa Yet Because Of High Import Tariffs

Written by Peter Pedroncelli
Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has expressed his desire to make his electric cars available in South Africa but pointed to high import tariffs as a deterent. In this March 14, 2019, file photo Tesla CEO Musk speaks before unveiling the Model Y at Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk blamesd South Africa’s high import taxes for the fact that his electric vehicles are not yet on the road in his country of birth.

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel for South Africans hoping to drive a Tesla, however. The government is considering policy changes that would favor electric car imports or production in South Africa, according to Businesstech.

Born and raised in South Africa, Musk moved to Canada and then the U.S., where he helped found some of the world’s most successful tech companies including PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla, a U.S. auto and energy company based in Silicon Valley.

Elon Musk responds to a random tweet

Responding to the tweet on Aug. 29 from a South African asking for an update on Tesla’s plans in the country, Musk explained why Tesla electric cars are not available in South Africa.

The country’s high tariffs — around 23 percent on imported electric vehicles — have stalled the launch of Tesla in South Africa. 

Musk said that he “would love to” bring Tesla to the country but that “import duties are extremely high, even for electric vehicles”.

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In 2016, Musk announced that South Africa would be one of seven new countries where Tesla planned to export, but after three years that promise has yet to become reality.

Fewer than 1,000 electric vehicles have been imported into South Africa to date and reducing import duties could boost those numbers.

To incentivize production in South Africa, the government’s Automotive Production and Development Program allows vehicles to be imported into the country at reduced costs if they are assembled locally. This program would also apply to electric cars, the government said.

Seven major carmakers in South Africa are uniting to lobby the government on the merits of electric vehicles for the South African economy.

Auto-manufacturing makes up about 7 percent of South Africa’s economy, but no electric cars are produced there.

Volkswagen, Isuzu, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler and Toyota want the South African government to consider policy changes so South Africa could benefit from electric vehicle manufacturing and export opportunities presented by greener automotive technologies.