COMING TO SA: Tesla unveiled a new, cheaper model of its electric car aimed at the mass market in late March 2016. The new Model 3 will only be available in late 2017 and is confirmed for South Africa. Image: AFP / Tesla
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Cape Town - Tesla, the electric car company started by South-African born tech guru Elon Musk, confirmed that its latest electric vehicle, the Model 3, is headed for South Africa.
Globally, the new Tesla has 325 000 pre-orders for the first deliveries expected in 2017.
Over 300km range
The new model is expected to have a range of at least 340km when fully charged, about double the range of current rival offerings such as the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3.
Read: Elon Musk - New Tesla Model 3 is headed for SA
Its lithium-ion battery is capable of propelling the EV to 100km/h in just six seconds.
At a starting price of $35 000 (the equivalent of R533 000) - before US federal and state government incentives - the Model 3 is less than half the cost of Tesla's previous models.
Not convinced With a recent 88c per litre petrol price hike in South Africa and the new Model 3 headed for our shores, many local motorists could be considering purchasing battery-powered car in the near future.
Some experts are not convinced South Africa can support an electric car market. Gumtree SA says electric cars are exciting for the local market, they're 'not yet a good buy for SA consumers'.
Jeff Osborne, head of automotive for Gumtree SA, urges South African buyers to be cautious: “We simply do not have the infrastructure to support an electric car market - the US has made provision for nearly 13 000 charging stations and, at the moment, we cannot accommodate this type of set-up for power supply."
Price, range and infrastructure
Osborne says this matters to consumers because, even with the impressive advances that Tesla has made, “you will only get about four hours driving before needing to fully recharge”.
He also highlights the price tag of the new Tesla – the equivalent of R530 000 at current exchange rates – and SA's high electricity costs as serious offsets against any petrol savings that could be made.
Osbourne believes that in the SA environmentally-friendly vehicle market, hybrids, which combine electric and petrol-power, are more viable and will hold value; “they still need more development and a reduction in price but, for the foreseeable future, hybrids will dominate this space locally”.
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