Published on January 1st, 2016 | by James Ayre


Tesla Jumps Into South Korea & South Africa

January 1st, 2016 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

Tesla Motors will be opening up a new office in the Gangnam district of Seoul, Korea, following the recent filing of incorporation papers with the government there, according to a recent report from the Korea Times. The creation of the “new” company — Tesla Korea Limited — was announced publicly by the Korea Supreme Court back on December 19th.

Tesla will also be opening an office in South Africa sometime in January, reportedly — with the focus in that market being primarily energy storage offerings, rather than electric vehicles (EVs).

Electric Car Tipping Point (For Domination) Within 10 Years, Tesla CTO JB Straubel Predicts (Video)With regard to the new Korean office, Tesla CTO JB Straubel noted back in November that the company considers the market to be one with a lot of potential, though no firm dates have been revealed for future product releases there.

Teslarati provides more:

The original officers for Tesla Korea Limited are Todd Maron, currently general counsel at Tesla Motors, and Susan Repo, director at Tesla Financial Services.

…Charging infrastructure, or rather the lack of it, is a major concern in Korea. Tesla would need to embark on a major campaign to construct Supercharger locations within the country or partner with local providers, as it has done in China.

In an interview with Korea Times, an automotive engineering professor at Daelim University by the name of Kim Pil-soo commented positively on the development: “Tesla has both premium and low-cost product lines. Its quality is one of the highest in the electric vehicle market. At a time when local customers are increasingly fond of imported vehicles, if Tesla cars hit local showrooms, its repercussion on the local automotive market will not be small.”

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • ROBwithaB

    The South Africa rumour has been floating around for a while. Do we have any verification on this?
    I ordered a whole bunch of Powerwalls. No response yet received from Tesla as to when they might be available here…

  • Shane 2

    “Tesla Motors will be opening up a new office in the Gangnam district of Seoul”
    Will they be playing a certain Psy song at the opening?

  • ROBwithaB

    What is your source for the South African office opening?
    You said “reportedly”. Reported by whom?
    We are an obvious market for the storage business.

  • Daniel Marcellini

    We need more electric cars. When are these charging stations and vehicles going to be throughout the United States and Canada?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Here’s a map of Tesla Supercharger stations in June 2015 and a map of where Tesla expects to be at the end of 2016. (Similar maps for Europe and Asia are on Tesla’s website.

      Looking forward to seeing their ‘end of 2017’ map.

      With sales of the Model 3 scheduled to start in 2017 I would expect a lot more charge points and to start seeing a lot more Teslas on the road.

      • Matt

        Michigan and intact the whole “inner east side” gets a lot of love in 2016. To bad there are not accepted names for the 2 middle sections of the USA. I guess I should have said NWT (north west territory) and the states south of it. Or the Mississippi river valley and it’s feeders.

        • Bob_Wallace

          How about we call the the “Northern Midwest Tesla Lite” and Southern Midwest Tesla Lite” zones?

          NMTL/SMTL zones.

          • Shane 2

            And good luck trying to drive coast to coast in Canada. I guess you would have to find wheat-belt farmers willing to sell access to their drier plug-point. Come to think of it, if I want to drive to Darwin or to Adelaide, I’ll be driving way more than 1000 miles through desert areas where there are no farmers. Yep, Perth does feel isolated.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Some people use RV campgrounds as places to charge. And there may be Destination Chargers that don’t show up on the 2016 Canada map.

            I would imagine Tesla will build a highway system across Australia if there’s any demand. I’d guess that it won’t happen really soon.

          • Carl Raymond S

            We have one supercharger route in place, from Sydney to Melbourne. Next planned route is from Sydney to Brisbane – I’m hoping it will be in place by end of 2016. As a Sydney resident, those two routes alone would cover 80% of my historical road trips. We’re a nation of coastal dwellers, thanks to the Great Dividing Range. Go west and the landscape gets pretty dry pretty fast.

          • Shane 2

            Yep and Perth is in the south-west. Ocean to the south and west, desert to the north and east. I feel isolated.

          • Carl Raymond S

            Sorry Shane. That’s only because you are isolated. Have you driven from east to west coast recently? I know of only one friend who has done it, and they didn’t really have a choice – they were competing in a regatta and had to tow their dinghy’s.
            I saw on TV a LEAF charger on the road to Freemantle, if that’s any consolation.

          • Shane 2

            Ha ha. A Leaf charger on the road to Freo. That is a huge relief 🙂

          • Charles

            Out of interest there has been a Tesla Model S that has done the drive across the Nullarbor. Some sneaky photos have been released, still waiting for the full story.

          • Shane 2

            Do you have a source for those photos? It would be possible in a 85 Model S charging at petrol road houses and camping grounds etc. if you allow plenty of time to charge to 100% between each run and if you cut your average kW per km by driving slowly it would be “easily” done. I think that Bjorn squeezed 700 clicks out of one charge of an 85D driving at less than 50 km/hr in Denmark. That was with no aircon. Nullarbor in January: You can consider yourself a true bushy if you do that without AC. I’m not as hardy as my forebears.

          • Charles
          • ROBwithaB

            One word:

          • Charles

            1200km to Ceduna to Norseman. I assume a couple of overnight stops at roadhouses with 3-phase power were involved!

          • ROBwithaB

            And things get pretty far pretty fast too.
            Driving East / West in Oz is only for the truly adventurous.
            Wouldn’t want to be stuck out on the Nullarbor in a broken car of any sort.
            The best of view of that scenery is from 30,000 ft.

          • ROBwithaB

            The tourist route up to Cairns might be the next logical step.
            And connecting up to Adelaide is probably in the plans too.
            Beyond that, the Great Ocean Road, and maybe Freemantle and Perth down to the south coast.
            Truth is you can cover the overwhelming majority of typical road trips with a very small number of superchargers.
            Which might actually be a problem, if the recent Tejon situation in Cali on Boxing Day is considered.
            When lots of traffic is confined to a single route, on a single day, congestion is likely.

          • Carl Raymond S

            We might need to be a bit patient. Using Bob Wallace’s estimate of 1 charging bay to 100 cars, Tesla are already over invested here. 500 cars have been sold (as at 2 months ago). If they sell 1000 cars here in 2016, that will just cover the Sydney to Brisbane route. Perhaps Cairns the year after.

          • Bob_Wallace

            My guess of 1:100 is a stable state level. In order to sell a car that can be driven from ‘coast to coast’ it’s necessary to get a minimum number of chargers in place before you sell 100 cars per installed charger.

            I wish we had some real numbers for the number of drivers who drive over 200 miles on busy drive days.

            I think Tesla’s goal was no more than 50 miles between chargers along “complete” routes with the long term goal of no more than 35 miles between chargers. That would mean a minimum of 30 chargers between Sydney to Cairns.

          • neroden

            That’s a little low. I’ve estimated that 90-100 mile spacing between Superchargers is fine.

          • Carl Raymond S

            I think we accept that Australia is a bit of a backwater with sparse population and great distances. Nobody here is going to complain in the next five years if the chargers are 200km apart. So long as the journey is possible, people will configure the trip to fit. We like to think we’re a hardy lot. It’s why the Crocodile Dundee character did so well at the box office.

          • neroden

            If you’re crossing Canada, look up Sun Country Highway. They’re not superchargers, but 240 volt 90 amp service is pretty decent.

          • Driving coast to coast in Canada is something done once in a lifetime for a fraction of people. I’ve driven TorontoVancouver (round trip) 2 times in my (long) life. Meanwhile, we’ve done more driving in our Tesla (km per month) than we ever did in our previous gas powered SUV, it’s just better to drive electric!

      • Shane 2

        It will be interesting to see how Model 3 owners will be required to pay for access to the SC network. These are going to be $40,000 vehicles that could still be on the road in 30 years. The SC network will become more dense with time so the ease of access, and the incentive to use it frequently will increase with time. If Tesla says that Model 3 owners can have free access to the SC network for the life of the vehicle, it could bankrupt the company at some point. It they don’t honor such a commitment they would be hit with legal liabilities.

        • Bob_Wallace

          You do realize that ModS buyers pay for Supercharger access as part of the purchase price? For a while it was a $2k option but Tesla rolled it into the purchase price for all cars.

          I played with the numbers and suspect $2k is a lot more than is needed. All Tesla needs to do is to charge buyers enough to cover more charger installation is covered and that the electricity used is paid for.

          Here’s my assumption. No more than 5% of all Tesla’s will be charging on the busiest travel day of the year. Five out of 100. Five Teslas could charge between 11am and 2pm. For every 100 cars sold one charge bay would need to be installed. I’ve read $18k per stall. And that would be covered with $200,000 paid in. So there’s $180k left to cover electricity. Invest the bulk in wind and solar generation.

          • Shane 2

            You have SC maintenance costs and electricity costs for the life of the vehicle. We don’t know how much electricity will cost in 20 years time. It varies greatly between countries. Here on CT it is all techno-optimism whilst over on you have environmentalists with a doomer outlook saying the costs of going renewable are going to be great. I don’t see how Tesla can predict how much the one-off charge should be, and Tesla isn’t going to put the $2000 in a managed fund to draw upon over time. Great when you are expanding sales but “pyramid game” if you are losing sales to other EV vendors. If Tesla gets it wrong it will get ugly. We already have people like Bjorn Nyland earning money as a long distance courier using only free SC electricity for his courier trips. The incentive to do this will increase as the SC network improves.

          • Bob_Wallace

            My understanding is that Tesla will invest in solar farms (perhaps wind farms as well?) which will produce the electricity. Purchase solar or wind today and you’re largely protected against rate inflation for decades. And $180,000 is a nice piece of change to use for renewable purchases and to establish a maintenance fund.

            Resilience is a site I look at once in a while. The Queen of Peak Oil is a writer for them. I read her latest convoluted argument on why Peak Oil is going to get us while we’re sleeping any day now.

            Tell you the truth, I’m not very interested in what doomers have to say. We have only one option, try to get climate change under control. I see no value in talking about how hard the job might be. We must charge forth regardless of the cost.

            As for the cost of switching to renewables, it’s greatly overstated. Most people don’t consider that basically every single fossil fuel plant in operation today will need to be replace over the next 40 years. Stuff wears out.

            We’re going to spend the money one way or another. Best to spend it on renewables and have no more fuel costs.

            ” I don’t see how Tesla can predict how much the one-off charge should be, and Tesla isn’t going to put the $2000 in a managed fund to draw upon over time.”

            First you gather some good quality data on how many people drive over 200 miles a day and what the annual peak day number is. While you’re at it you look at the routes that need to be covered in order to let people drive just about everywhere.

            Then you do math.

            Tesla may not put the $2k in a specific fund, they may use the money now as a way to avoid some financing costs. But you can be assured that their accountants have written in the future obligation and it’s been worked into their business plan. These folks are not stupid.

            Tesla will adjust things as the market changes. We might see, for example, the Mod3 having some sort of use limits, like 70 uses per year. That would be enough to let people drive 12,000 miles a year using only Superchargers yet put a damper on people like cab drivers who might want to use one daily.

          • Charles

            “We don’t know how much electricity will cost in 20 years time.” – but Elon Musk runs both a solar company and a battery company, so I’m sure they can be self reliant if need be.

          • Shane 2

            Self reliance does not mean lower cost. It might mean higher cost if you are not using all the load shifting that can be achieved with a grid.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Throughout those 20 years there will be a continued stream of new cars entering the system and older cars going to the crusher. There will be a continued stream of revenue which won’t need to install more Superchargers, just maintain the ones that are already in service.

            And if the economics get out of balance all Tesla needs to do is to adjust the buy in price.

          • neroden

            SC maintenance costs are negligible. Biggest cost is rent. Electricity costs… well, Tesla’s long term plan is to “eat their own product” by using solar power and batteries (and they make batteries).

            In the short term, the electricity costs are significant but still way too cheap to be worth metering.

        • Charles

          Actually usage of the superchargers (per vehicle) will decrease over time. As battery capacity increases, people will be able to drive further and further without needing to charge. Of course increasing number of vehicles will result in the network needing to grow but at some point it will reach an equilibrium.

          • Shane 2

            An increase in battery capacity means less total number of separate charges but not less energy. You just have longer drinks at fewer chargers so same plug in time. That is if charge rates don’t improve. It is likely that larger capacity will mean faster initial charge rates. The first 50% of a cell is faster charging than the next 20% which is faster charging than the next 20%. The last 10% is a bitch. The greater the capacity, the less % charge you need for any particular task and the quicker the rate you can charge at to fulfil that task. Tesla’s SC network maxes out at 120 kW. I don’t know how long that limit will last. However I think that a more extensive infrastructure, and faster charging, will encourage more long range driving and more SC energy use per car. It is free (after the initial car cost) and there is nothing like a freebee to encourage use.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, if range goes from 250 to 350 miles then all the people who are driving between 250 and 350 miles on a given day will not need to stop and charge.
            It will also mean that the system can use more creative scheduling in order to reduce the number charging at ‘lunch time’.

            Think about someone with a 350 mile range and a 400 mile trip. They could be waved in after 100 miles for a midmorning 100 top up or held off until well after the midday bulge and grab 100 miles toward the end of their drive.

          • jeffhre

            The rate of charging is planned to steadily increase. Tesla has used batteries at some sites to limit peak loads. And the fastest superchargers now top out at 135 KW not 120.

        • ROBwithaB

          If anyone has the information on hand to design an optimal charging network, it is Tesla.
          Quite apart from the SC network. G-fac, etc, one could argue that their primary asset at this point is the huge cache of HARD DATA they have accumulated.
          They have an enormously detailed picture of how people actually use their cars. And with each mile driven, and each new car sold, this picture becomes more refined.
          The first few hundred SC bays were presumably installed based on partially educated guesses.
          Going forward, the decisions are going to be VERY will informed.

  • BlackTalon53 .

    Why is Tesla so worried about having to build superchargers in South Korea? Yes, so far there is no charging infrastructure and tehy would have to build them from scratch, but they had to do that everywhere else, too. In a highly industrialised country like Korea it ought to be even easier to find places with the necessary massive power supply.

    • dRanger

      I don’t think that “worried”. Properly describes the situation. I thing it s more a matter of priorities for a small company that is barely keeping up with its existing order book. It’s the same reason they don’t advertise – they have no need for more customers at present. Their manufacturing plans are set to expand steadily, so the Korean expansion is more about the future than the present.

    • Carl Raymond S

      Bob Wallace’s analysis above shows the need for one charge bay per 100 vehicles sold. That’s not a problem in a mature market where there are already many hundreds of cars per supercharger zone. In a new market, the chicken and egg problem applies. If supercharging availability limits the sales, then Tesla has to pay for the chargers, before the cars have been sold. Ouch.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Oh, sure, there’s an upfront need for covering the range if you’re selling the first car and advertising the ability to drive ‘coast to coast’. But when you’ve sold your first thousand cars at $2k per car you’ve got $2 million for chargers.

        At $20k per charger you’ve collected enough for 100 charge bays. If there’s only a thousand cars using the system electricity cost won’t be much.

        • Carl Raymond S

          Here’s a Leaf owners perspective. For the first two years, I didn’t have Tesla envy. I felt I had what they had for half the price. Occasionally, they might be able to go further afield, but that didn’t make their car worth twice mine.
          When the supercharger route went down, I turned green (and not in an environmental sense). Suddenly, they could go all the way to Melbourne – for nix! If I had a Tesla, I would invent reasons to go to Melbourne. I would probably go to the Australian Open (tennis) for the first time.
          The superchargers are without doubt Tesla’s ace up the sleeve. They are the reason GM, Nissan, BMW, Faraday, Apple will not impede Tesla’s growth rate in the near future, even if they do produce a comparable car. Tesla has the jump.

      • neroden

        Yeah, but South Korea is *tiny*.

        Building out the enormous Supercharger network over the enormous, empty United States cost a bundle. China, which is also enormous, has the same issue. And so will Russia.

        But South Korea could be covered with less than 9 Supercharger sites. Call it 10. Using the high-end cost estimates, that’s a total of $2 million, which is *pocket change* in this context.

        • Carl Raymond S

          Thanks – I hadn’t realised it was so small.

    • Charles

      I think the real reason they wouldn’t need to worry is because the country is only just 330km long.

    • Dan

      South Korea has Kia and Hyundai. If Tesla builds a sc network there they both encourage them to move in the same direction to compete and gives Tesla a greater presence in Asia. Japan and China are right there. It’s too bad north korea isolates any routes into China

  • Zorba

    It’s not surprising that Tesla views South Africa as a promising market. After ten years living in London where the only power outage was an hour when a cable under the road blew and they had to dig it up to repair it, I recently spent time in South Africa where blackouts became a way of life for a year or so. The reasons behind it are a long story, but the bottom line is that generators and lead-acid battery backups became increasingly common.

    The trend is likely to continue, too, despite the much-delayed massive coal plants being built and successful renewable energy auctions. The economy has been struggling recently, with mines, smelters and industrial consumers cutting back on consumption, so blackouts have been avoided for a few months. But long term, the need to connect a growing population to the grid and export power to other countries (Botswana was totally dependent on SA for power, for example) means demand will keep increasing. And maintenance of local infrastructure hasn’t been great either so technical faults also disrupt supply (we had interruptions due to a local fault 4 times last month).

    Whereas in other parts of the world people do calculations based on how much they save or environmental considerations, here people need to keep a couple of lights going at night and fridges/freezers operating in a hot climate. Some people live in apartment blocks or other areas where they can’t operate generators. I know others who have spent a lot on going totally off grid, but I think even average homes will soon view a battery backup of some sort as a must-have piece of equipment. And the Tesla batteries in particular will probably become status symbols.

    • Shane 2

      SA’s corrupt ANC need reform. These guys have not managed the grid/generation well and they are thinking of investing billions in nuclear. Zuma needs to go for a start.

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