Rich Russians Go To Extremes To Buy Tesla Model S EVs




Officially, the Tesla Model S isn’t sold in Russia through Tesla’s own channels.  However, that hasn’t stopped some wealthy Tesla fans from procuring a Model S in Russia.

As Automotive News states:

“Almost 100,000 Russians follow Musk’s unofficial social media page, yet the Tesla founder seems to be promoting his dream car everywhere but here, forcing enthusiasts such as Andrey Vratskiy to go to great lengths — and expense — to own one.”

“Vratskiy, a 33-year-old software executive, wanted to swap his BMW X6 for a $75,000 Tesla S so badly that he agreed to pay almost double for it. With no sales network in Russia, he had to buy his sedan in the U.S. and spend $12,000 to fly it to Moscow, where it cost $50,000 to clear customs.”

“With no entry in site, Tesla enthusiasts in Russia like Vratskiy will have to continue paying a premium to the private traders that are stepping in to meet demand. Two dozen Model S cars are currently being advertised on, the country’s largest online marketplace for vehicles, for as much as 11 million rubles ($195,000) each.”

Vratski isn’t the only Russia to have pursued an unusual route to obtain a Tesla Model S.  Apparently, there are over 250 Model S EVs in Russia. despite there not being a single Tesla store or service center in the entire country.

Automotive News adds:

“Other Russian [Tesla Model S] owners include billionaire Roman Abramovich and bankers Herman Gref and Andrei Akimov, who head OAO Sberbank and OAO Gazprombank, Russia’s largest and third-largest lenders, respectively.”

It’s believed that Tesla could sell some 2,000 Model S EVs and an additional 2,000 Model X SUVs in Russia annually if it opened a proper store and a few service centers, but Tesla doesn’t seem interested in doing so.

The biggest problem for current Tesla owners in Russia is that if their vehicle needs service, the nearest center 550 miles away in Finland.

Source: Automotive News

Categories: Tesla


Leave a Reply

30 Comments on "Rich Russians Go To Extremes To Buy Tesla Model S EVs"

newest oldest most voted

Well, in France there’re currently only Service Center near Paris (north), Bordeaux (south-west) and Marseille. No more are currently planned. The next Service Center in the EU are near Stuttgart, Bruxelles and Milano…
-> several 100km in between…


Tesla still not selling in New Zealand, No Sales Centre, No Service Centre, No Super Chargers. New Zealand has 80% clean renewable energy.

Clean electricity… not clean energy. The level of clean energy in New Zealand is a lot lower.
Isn’t is something like 35%?

Actually, service aside, I’d be surprised if there also isn’t a legality issue. Presumably Russia has some homologation requirements for vehicles that drive on public roads, like all developed or semi-developed countries.

Since I doubt anyone’s gone through the homologation process just for their single vehicle, I suspect any Tesla on the road could be seized as illegal if the government felt like it.

Too be fair high end Tesla’s have Insane mode, which fits in very well with the driving style on Russian roads.

Maybe, maybe not. The US has an exemption for low volume manufacturers; plenty of other countries also have loopholes.

In terms of safety regulations, the (arguably) highest-testing vehicle in the strictest-testing country can easily pass Russia’s weak crash test standards.

But you’re right, there may be odd details like reflector or bumper requirements.

After the fiasco of buying a rocket from the Russians, I suspect they will be one of the last countries Tesla will expand into.

Must be able to separate the gov’t and the gov’t controlled industries from the Russian people and from the main objective to electrify automotive transport. It is not a matter of if but when Tesla will have presence in Eastern Europe regardless of the geopolitics.

Eastern Europe yes.

Russia and Belarus probably not.

We want trade with Russia not cold war. Let’s not forget that Mutual Assured Destruction between the US and Russia is still the main potential treat to the existence of conscience on this planet, so anything that can reduce that treat, even small is welcome. Beside a Model S in Russia is reducing carbon emissions in the global atmosphere as much as one in any other place. Improving trade and relations is what is good in helping getting forward even with a Russia with monopolistic power and lack of free press.

It may be because of the USA-Russia current relationship…

If you check Tesla’s supercharger map for 2016, it shows opening of at least 4 charging stations in Russia.

So this may show they plan to make inroads into the rich Russian market.

I bet Russia could be one of the largest markets for the brand.

They sell in the 2-3 million cars a year range, not even close to a bunch of countries.

Not even close to a bunch of countries? They are 5-7th most selling country in the world depending on yearly numbers.

Tesla has presence in most of the top 10 markets and the ones missing are Russia, India Brazil and South Korea.
Of them Brazil and India will take a very special kind of effort and are most likely not going to happen for years to come.

So Russia and South Korea seems like the most logical next steps in the expansion. Not to mention that the Russian high-end market is pretty large because of the major differences in wealth.

Russia-USA relations are totally irrelevant.

Russia-USA relations are totally relevant.

If Putin decides to slap a massive tariff on American made goods.

Or decides to seize assets of American companies.

There has not been any new measures by either side over Crimea in the last few months but you can not be certain things won’t escalate in the near future.

If they put a massive tarif it will surely be on European manufacturers too and then Tesla will still have the same competition from BMW, Mercedes etc.
Not to mention that the rich of the rich in Russia most likely can and will afford it anyway. It’s not like in Norway where a lot of the buyers are (upper) middle class.

BMW is selling the i3 in Brazil, which is a far more developed market than India, so Tesla should go to Brazil. It probably makes sense to time that entry with the Model III.

IMHO, fist South American country for Tesla should be Chile. Tariffs are low and pollution in Santiago is notorious, while all oil is imported. Also, BMW is selling the i3 there as well. A single store in Santiago would be enough, plus a pop-up store to roam the country, and two or three service centers. Supercharging would be easy since the country is long and narrow, with a single (but very long) main highway.

The ABC will be interesting, and as you said Chiles geography makes it a good place to start.
Then most likely Argentina and Uruguay.

But when it’s time then they will surely do all three almost at the same time. That will not happen before the Model 3 though considering the demands in Brazil which will lead to Tesla having to have a factory there. And they will definitely not build one there until the Model 3 is up and running at high capacity.

(and they will surely do one in China/Europe or both before that)

So maybe 2022-25 for Brazil.

Excellent points about Chile. Plenty of power from solar and hydro, too.

I don’t think the problem is that Tesla isn’t interested but the frosty relations between Russia and the USA makes it difficult to establish a presence there. There are still other places for Tesla to focus on.
I’m sure Tesla will go to Russia eventually, at least the supercharger network will find its way there next year.

Doesn’t the US have sanctions on trading with Russia right now because of the Ukraine crisis? I think that’s really why Tesla can’t really legally do business there.

If things were A-OK between the US/Russia, then I’m sure Musk would be more than happy promoting the Model S and X in Russia as well.

That’s what I thought was the reason too. Given the people buying in Russia would be the rich, there’s a good chance that one or multiple of the buyers would be one of the specific people or companies targeted by the US sanctions. That will put Tesla in an awkward situation of refusing sale to certain people, which is not that good a situation.

Right now given the Russians are buying via third party, Tesla avoids that concern.

The sanctions are basically just against a few russian individuals plus a few well targeted companies.

So there is absolutely no problem nor any reason at all why Tesla couldn’t establish themselves in Russia.

Tesla is a very small company with little resources and can’t be everywhere at once straight away. When Tesla are starting to get established on current markets then they will surely expand.
And on the short list to expand Russia is most definitely there, probably along South Korea, Turkey, Singapore/Malaysia and somewhere around Saudi Arabia/UAE.

There are various reasons why Tesla Motors has no plans to start selling its cars in Russia, including a lack of public charging infrastructure. The Model S can get along without Superchargers; it can’t get along with no destination chargers at all.

And if Elon Musk thinks US-Russia relations are important to the equation, then they are, irrespective of what any of us think.

The subject of why Tesla won’t go to Russia is explored a bit here:

I think it has to do with inflation expectations.
Putin is no genius, Russia is at great risk of Hyper-Inflation with Putin in control.

War, embargo’s, threats of war, are all bad for your currency and commerce.

Get rid of Putin, and someone who isn’t at war with the west and watch Russia Grow.

Putin is merely the public face of the ogliarchy which controls Russia. When Putin is replaced we can hope for someone who’s a bit less hostile towards the West… in the same way that Brezhnev was a bit less hostile than Stalin. But don’t expect a substantial improvement with relations with the West.

It was foolish of NATO to think Russia would sit buy and watch its control of the Crimea be wrested away; that’s Russia’s only warm-water military port. Likewise, there is a lot of Russian public support for Putin’s he-man, bully-boy, sabre-rattling behavior. Nostalglic pining for the past glory of the Soviet Cold War era, among the general public in Russia, again does not bode well for a substantial improvement in relations with the West.

Actually before Putin it was mafia type oligarchs all around, with Putin it is oligarchs under government control.

In Ukraine Obama backed North West Ukrainians that wanted to impose a ban on speaking Russian on the Russian speaking South East Ukrainians.

In Crimea, Obama was backing entry into NATO which would have put the Sebastopol fleet under NATO control.

In Syria Obama has been helping the insurgent to try to close the only remaining Russian fleet Mediterranean port.

In all those situations it is rather the initial Obama moves, a madrasa educated president, that are hostile towards Russia, than Russia initially hostile against the west.

By the way in Belgium the west start to be seen as a US dictated program that is slowly slipping to non democratic especially with the NSA spying on so called allies, with the Angela Merkel spying as a high point, and the Snowden revelations on the extend of non security but rather control and economic warfare information collection. The Boeing versus Airbus tanker affairs was also eye opening, has well as the convenient GM bailout instead of selling Opel, a long leap away from free competition and fair trade.

As long as you keep it in another currency and not rubels (like most international companies in Russia do) you are in little problem with the inflation.
And even at hyper-infation it would not do all that much to potential russian Tesla buyers who generally have money all over the world.
It would be the normal russian people that would suffer, not Tesla nor their potential buyers.

Didn’t Putin threaten Germany’s natural gas supplies? And cut off Ukrainian supplies?

Putin has signaled he will fight you on economic terms. That puts any business in Russia at Great Risk of Bankruptcy.

Nope. Germany basically pays for Russia with their buys of oil and gas. There is no way that Russia would ever give that up.

Russia don’t have much to threaten with that wouldn’t hurt themselves A LOT more. And no general is so stupid, not even Putin, that he would take out an enemy’s finger by cuting off your own leg and throw it at the finger.

Mike777 asked:

“Didn’t Putin threaten Germany’s natural gas supplies? And cut off Ukrainian supplies?”

Russia not only cut off supplies to Ukraine, but to six nations whose supply was shipped thru Ukraine.

I don’t know if this latest crisis affected Germany directly, but according to the article in the 2nd link below, “Something like this happened in 2006 when a Russian gas cut triggered fuel shortages in France, Italy, Germany and Poland.”