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Kenya’s “First” Tesla Model X Creates Buzz

Kenya is one of the best places to drive electric vehicles (EVs). Kenya’s grid is very green thanks to awesome geothermal, wind, utility-scale solar, and hydropower plants. All of these make up 93% of Kenya’s generation capacity.

Kenya is one of the best places to drive electric vehicles (EVs). Kenya’s grid is very green thanks to awesome geothermal, wind, utility-scale solar, and hydropower plants. All of these make up 93% of Kenya’s generation capacity. Kenyan organization Drivelectric has also shown over a year-long exercise that driving electric in Kenya is so much cheaper than driving a fossil fuel vehicle.

The transport sector is responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions in Kenya. It has become critical for Kenya to accelerate the transition to electric mobility to reduce these emissions.

It looks like the EV scene in Kenya is starting to come alive. Nopea, a ride-hailing start up using only electric vehicles, is scaling up. Iyadi, an early adopter, recently took his 35 kWh Volkswagen e-Golf on a 200 km nonstop trip to Nanyuki from Nairobi, showing how comfortable a 200 km trip is in a modern EV.

But there is just something about Tesla that really gets people excited. Which is why we can’t wait for Tesla to start looking at seriously getting its cars to Africa. Kenya is one of the markets that we hope would be on any future plans for Africa. Bringing in the Tesla Model X and S to new markets such as Kenya and South Africa could supercharge sales of these models. It seems some people aren’t even willing to wait for official sales to begin and are starting to import low-mileage Tesla vehicles directly from the United Kingdom. Here is a Tesla Model X tweet that is trending in Kenya today:

From this video, it looks like a Model X 75D. Reports so far seem to suggest that this is the first known Tesla in Kenya, but there could be more low-profile owners around. 

It’s good to see this particular Model X generating quite a buzz with Kenyans on Twitter. As always, the engagement on Twitter is intense and a lot of comments came through focusing on:

  1. Where will the owner charge the Tesla when there aren’t many charging stations in Kenya?
  2. How will they survive the power outages?
  3. And where will they service it given that there aren’t any Tesla Service Centers?

Then there was the usual banter with particular reference to a viral image of a Tesla that appeared to be stranded on the roadside somewhere and charging off of a portable diesel/petrol generator. All of this engagement and publicity is good, as its helps raise awareness and gets people in this part of the world talking about EVs. As more and more EVs hit the road in Kenya, most likely through imports of used vehicles from the traditional source markets such as Japan and the United Kingdom, a lot more people will gain some comfort with EVs and their performance in this market. It may also incentivize businesses to accelerate plans to roll out charging stations.

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.


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