Friday, and for that matter, the weekend was dominated (rightly) by political news. So, it slipped past most media notice that Elon Musk will bring finally bring his Tesla to the country of his birth. As noted by Musk himself, the Tesla 3 is the culmination of a very long strategy on how to make mass scale electric cars a reality - and in a country blessed with sunshine, it's about time.
I was considering getting a new car this year - and I did go to have a look at the i3. But despite many promises by BMW, I am yet to actually get a test drive (and they have stopped keeping me up to date every Friday with excuses). But the i3 (and the Nissan Leaf) are rather poor cousins when compared to the Tesla - especially in terms of range. Whereas the i3's extended range is about 200Km, the Tesla's starting range will be about 340Km. The Model S' extended range is already in the region of 430Km, which is plenty for most use cases in South Africa.
But the key to Tesla is the whole package that it brings together - not only the car, but also the charging network. In every country it operates in so far, it has built out the charging network, so I expect that it will be the same in South Africa.
I did some calculations with the Nissan Leaf, and also with the i3 and now with Tesla. Even with escalating electricity prices in South Africa, the cost per Km is less than a 3rd of a petrol vehicle. Yes, the initial investment is significantly more; but I think the numbers will work out over the long term (assuming warranty and service levels are the same as Model S and X).
But it will be a long wait - the Model 3 is only scheduled for delivery in the US at the end of 2017, and I expect SA to be the last of the Left Hand Drive markets to be available; so nothing before end of 2018 at the earliest in my view; probably mid-2019 realistically.
I think I can stretch my current car until then - and it allows me to save up :)