Tesla Model X

The Tesla Model X. Image: Supplied

The future is here next week: The first Tesla SUV about to charge into SA

A sign of the times? A single Tesla model, the vehicle brand that has made electric vehicles a household name, will make its very first visit to South Africa next week.

Tesla Model X

The Tesla Model X. Image: Supplied

Electroheads, futurists, eco-warriors and motoring enthusiasts are not holding their breath for a large-scale electric invasion just yet, but news that a Tesla Model X will be arriving in South Africa next week has certainly sparked much interest.

Cape Town-headquartered sustainable energy and technology firm Rubicon announced this week that it would be bringing a Tesla Model X Performance Edition, all-electric SUV into South Africa on an unnamed date as early as next week.

The South African connection

Adding significant interest in the Tesla brand is that it was founded and is headed by South African-born Elon Musk — a trailblazing entrepreneur who has achieved international celebrity status on his journey to becoming the world’s richest man.

In this file photo, Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during an event to launch the new Tesla Model X Crossover SUV on 29 September 2015 in Fremont, California. After several production delays, Elon Musk officially launched the much anticipated Tesla Model X Crossover SUV. Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

While next week’s initiative does not signal the formal arrival of Tesla vehicles in South Africa, it underscores and reinvigorates the country’s relatively slow march towards an electrical vehicle future and will no doubt cause some nervous undercurrents to ripple through Eskom’s management structure.

Tesla’s task

Among the catalytic objectives of the project are expectations that it will promote e-mobility and accelerate the movement to an all-electric future in South Africa.

That Rubicon is undertaking the initiative is in itself a strong signal that the inevitable move towards electrical is beginning to pick up pace and further emphasises the massive task that still remains – that of establishing sound and effective infrastructure and support systems for future mass e-mobility.

Promoting a sustainable and electric future

In its announcement on the Rubicon website, The Rubicon Group described the initiative as “a big step forward for raising the profile of renewable energy in South Africa.”

The company said the vehicle would be used for marketing initiatives within the Rubicon Group to promote Tesla Powerwall and officially launch Rubicon’s entry into the electric vehicle charging space in South Africa.

“In addition, Rubicon aims to highlight all forms of e-mobility and to accelerate the South African vehicle industry and lobby government towards an all-electric future,” said Rubicon.

X-posing the power of e-mobility

The arrival of the Model X will give South Africans the opportunity to see up close what an electric future looks like, and to experience high performance electric vehicles and the technology showcased within the Tesla Model X for the first time.

Rubicon revealed that the Model X would move between major city centres over the next few months in conjunction with a number of marketing events for Tesla Powerwall and electric vehicle chargers from EVBox, Delta and EO Charging.

Tesla is the benchmark

In his comments on the project, Greg Blandford who is the director for Rubicon Energy & E-Mobility, said: “The Tesla Model X is a marvel of engineering and technology, we hope to raise awareness of electric mobility in South Africa, and what better way to achieve this than with the world leader in electric vehicles, Tesla.”

In an interview with IT website MyBroadband, Blandford reiterated that “This is a big step forward for raising the profile of renewable energy in South Africa and (the Model X) would be used as the official platform to launch the company’s entry the electric vehicle charging space in the country.

Rubicon bridging the renewable energy and technology divide

In broadly describing its involvement in the greater energy industry, Rubicon said: “The world is undergoing a fundamental shift towards sustainable energy, resource efficiency and independence, and automation. Rubicon Group drives this transition through advancing the adoption of transformative technologies…”

Meet the Tesla Model X

The first Model X -classed as a mid-size luxury crossover – was launched in 2015. And the 2020 Performance Edition – which Rubicon will be showcasing locally, delivers 580kW, which rockets the SUV from 0-100km/h in 2.7 seconds in “Ludicrous Mode”. The vehicle can also travel an impressive 491km before having to be recharged.

According to Tesla, not only is the all-wheel-drive Model X exceptionally quick, but is considered to be the safest SUV ever. In 2017, the vehicle became the first SUV to earn a 5-star crash safety rating across all categories and sub-categories from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States.

The Model X line up – developed from the full-sized sedan platform of the Tesla Model S -up also includes the Plaid and Long Range derivatives, while the SUV also boasts  the most power and quickest acceleration of any SUV.

The Model X – it’s no drag 

With the most storage space and towing capacity of any electric SUV, and seating for up to seven adults, the Model X also claims to have the “lowest drag coefficient on any SUV on Earth”.