How much it costs to import Tesla models to South Africa

South Africans hoping to import a Tesla from the US will pay around R460,000 more for the base Model 3 and as much as R1.3 million more for the high-specced Model S Plaid, a MyBroadband analysis has revealed.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently said the South African government’s high import taxes on electric vehicles (EVs) were to blame for the company not launching in the country.

“Import duties are super high in South Africa to protect the domestic industry,” Musk said.

“Doesn’t make sense for Tesla, given that electric cars are not locally made.”

Importing EVs from the US and UK is subject to a 25% duty, while cars imported from some other jurisdictions — including China where Tesla has a manufacturing plant — are subject to a slightly lower 18% tax.

We calculated what it would cost to import a range of Tesla models from the US to South Africa to determine the impact of the country’s EV and import taxes for a regular buyer.

The taxes applied to EV imports from the US include various sales, luxury, and EV-specific taxes, which are as follows:

  • 15% VAT: calculated on the car’s retail value + 10%
  • 25% EV import tax: calculated on the car’s retail value + VAT
  • Ad valorem tax: essentially a luxury excise tax that varies on the product’s retail value

The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers in South Africa provides a formula for calculating the ad valorem tax percentage. This is quoted with an example below.

% = [(0.00003 * retail value less 20%) – 0.75]

Model S Plaid example:

% = [(0.00003 * R1,367,128.08) – 0.75]

% = 40.26

For the Tesla Model S Plaid, the ad valorem tax calculation produces a figure of 40.26%. However, South Africa caps the tax at 30%.

A breakdown of the taxes added to the price of the Tesla Model 3, Model Y, Cybertruck, Model X, and Model S Plaid when importing is provided in the table below.

Tesla import costs
Price breakdown Model 3 Model Y Cybertruck Model X Model S Plaid
US price $38,990.00 $43,990.00 $60,990.00 $79,990.00 $89,990.00
Price in rands R740,420.10 R835,370.10 R1,158,200.10 R1,519,010.10 R1,708,910.10
VAT on value + 10% R122,169.32 R137,836.07 R191,103.02 R250,636.67 R281,970.10
EV Tax R215,647.35 R243,301.54 R337,325.78 R442,411.69 R540,442.82
Ad Valorem R126,019.50 (17.02%) R161,226.43 (19.3%) R313,293.13 (27.05%) R455,703.03 (30%) R512,673.03 (30%)
Total tax R463,836.17 R542,364.04 R841,721.92 R1,148,751.39 R1,335,086.02
Total cost R1,204,256.27 R1,377,734.14 R1,999,922.02 R2,667,761.49 R3,043,996.12

These taxes add R464,836 to the price of the entry-level Tesla Model 3, R542,364 to the Model Y, and R841,722 to the Cybertruck.

This brings the total cost of each, excluding shipping, to R1.2 million, R1.38 million, and nearly R2 million, respectively.

Tesla’s Model X and Model S Plaid are significantly higher specced regarding performance and range, and import taxes add more than R1 million to the cost of each vehicle.

Tesla describes the Model X as utility and performance-focused, with the EV producing 508kW and offering a range of up to 539km. The Model X’s dual motors propel it from zero to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds.

South Africa’s EV and import taxes add over R1.1 million to the price of the Tesla Model X, bringing the total cost of importing it to the country to R2.67 million.

The Tesla Model S Plaid is the fastest car the company produces, with a zero to 100km/h time of under two seconds. The vehicle produces 760kW and offers a range of up to 578km.

Altogether, South Africans will pay over R3 million for the Tesla Model S Plaid once the country’s EV and import taxes are added to the purchase price.

More details on each Tesla model are provided below.


Tesla Model 3

  • Power/torque: 208kW/420Nm
  • 0–100km/h: 5.8 seconds
  • Range: 437km
  • Price (converted from dollar, excluding sales taxes): R740,420
  • Price after import (excl. shipping): R1,204,256


Tesla Model Y

  • Power/torque: 220kW/420Nm
  • 0–100km/h: 6.6 seconds
  • Range: 418km
  • Price (converted from dollar, excluding sales taxes): R835,370
  • Price after import (excl. shipping): R1,377,734


Tesla Cybertruck

  • Power/torque: 235kW/torque not specified
  • 0–100km/h: 6.5 seconds
  • Range: 402km
  • Price (converted from dollar, excluding sales taxes): R1,158,200
  • Price after import (excl. shipping): R1,999,922


Tesla Model X

  • Power/torque: 504kW/torque not specified
  • 0–100km/h: 3.8 seconds
  • Range: 539km
  • Price (converted from dollar, excluding sales taxes): R1,519,010
  • Price after import (excl. shipping): R2,667,761


Tesla Model S Plaid

  • Power/torque: 760kW/torque not specified
  • 0–100km/h: 1.99 seconds
  • Range: 578km
  • Price (converted from dollar, excluding sales taxes): R1,708,910
  • Price after import (excl. shipping): R3,043,996

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How much it costs to import Tesla models to South Africa