Tesla CEO Elon Musk Hands Over Keys To First 9 Model S Buyers In Japan


Elon Musk Gets Some Grub

Elon Musk Gets Some Grub

Less than 24 hours after enjoying some noodles in Shinjuku, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk participated in handing over the first Tesla Model S EVs to buyers in Japan.

The event was not widely publicized, perhaps because Tesla Motors doesn’t expect Model S sales to be strong in Japan where small (and even extremely small) cars dominate, but still it’s promising to see the Model S now finally available in one of the world’s largest EV markets.

Elon Musk Hands Over Keys To Japan's First Tesla Model S Buyers

Elon Musk Hands Over Keys To Japan’s First Tesla Model S Buyers

For those wondering how Tesla will deal with quick-charging in Japan, all Model S EVs sold there will come with a CHAdeMO adapter to allow for use of Japan’s amazingly robust CHAdeMO quick-charge network.  Superchargers are expected as well (reports suggest that at least a few Superchargers are already operational in Japan, though Tesla’s Supercharger map shows ZERO in Japan.  We suspect that the reports may be referring to Tesla’s HPWC, not Superchargers), though we don’t think more than a handful will be installed, as the CHAdeMO network is more than capable of handling all the Model S EVs Japan will likely see on its roads.

The Wall Street Journal covered the key hand-over event.  Quoting Musk:

“An important point that I should emphasize about the Model S is that the batteries are all made in Japan.  …the heart of Model S is Japanese. I think that’s a pretty cool thing.”

Per The Wall Street Journal:

“One of the first nine Model S vehicles delivered to Japanese owners Monday went to Yoshi Yamada, executive vice president of Panasonic, who was present at the handover ceremony. Mr. Yamada said the vehicle was for company use.”

Back to those noodles Musk Tweeted about in Shinjuku:

“I was just waking around the street with my friend, and said, ‘Hey, this place looks so cool, let’s eat here. They gave me a huge bowl, and it was awesome.”

Tesla Model S pricing starts at 8.23 million yen in Japan (~$78,000 USD).

Tesla Model S Pricing Info - Japan

Tesla Model S Pricing Info – Japan

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17 Comments on "Tesla CEO Elon Musk Hands Over Keys To First 9 Model S Buyers In Japan"

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“Tesla Model S pricing starts at 8.23 million yen in Japan (~$78,000 USD).”
Is that for the 85kWh or 60kWh?

Blew up the pricing image for you. Sorry it was so small before. That’s for the 60 kWh version.

Any idea what the “out-the-door” price would be? Seems like since the bulk of the cost is the batteries, which are a Japanese product, they wouldn’t charge as much tax, but I doubt that’s the case.

Since the battery cells are exported from Japan than assembled into battery packs in the US, there should be no benefit to selling in Japan. Japan has soft barriers that should prevent tesla from selling well there. Only 300K foreign name cars were imported into japan last year, and that was a record.

Who knows Japan is trying to pretend they don’t have trade barriers to US cars. They may not come out full force with soft penalties against tesla, but its not likely sales reach any type of market penetration.

Time for “Page 100”, of the CHAdeMO adapter threads. No longer vapor, just half a world away.

Time to get a Japanese friend who can buy one and send it over? 😛

Mikael , if you fancy right hand drives

I believe, Mikael is from UK, so he does fancy that.

First nine or last nine in Japan?

Quote from Hiroshiy on TMC:
“during the party I heard Tesla will build 30(?) Superchargers in Japan. As of today two open, one at Grand Hyatt (2 stalls) and another at Totsuka SC (4 stalls).”

“This is located within Totsuka Service Plus Center. Four plugs, 24h access, but Totsuka is not a good location for trip charging. Mostly for service plus center folks.
Service Plus Center seems to be service center + showroom.”


The Japanese import less than 5 per cent of their vehicles from outside japan, and many of that number are actually Nissan (and other Japanese makes) made in Brazil, Europe and U.S.A. What a joke ! Not even the vaunted Germans have been able to crack the Japanese auto market. All Japanese auto imports amount to less than a paltry 5 per cent of Japanese sales, including the vaunted German makes, and Volvo, the French, the Americans, etc. Consequently, Tesla will not be able to sell tens of thousands of Model S in japan, as the article clearly states. No one else has been able to, and Tesla will not be able to surmount Japanese Red Tape any more than other car makers. Go ahead and tell me how many cars the Germans have sold in japan. No matter what the numbers are, they are still junk numbers.. No matter how you dice it, less than 5 per cent of Japanese auto sales are from imports, and many of them are foreign imports of Japanese brands manufactured overseas.. What a joke ! Senator Carl Levin made the point in a telling letter addressed to the White House, stating: “Japan has… Read more »

Good info and stats. However, I don’t know how the senator concludes that low auto imports in Japan is not just market forces at play. Japanese people might just like Japanese cars. And they are indeed good quality. One reason GM and Ford lost market share in US to Japanese is that they ignored the small car market. Ford and GM execs would laugh when people brought up the subject of small cars. Now, US is suffering because of its own negligence, and trying to blame the Japanese for their misfortune. Even today, Japanese and Korean are considered higher in quality compared to GM/Ford/Chrusler cars.

Build a quality car, so people will buy. Most folks outside US don’t give a crap whether it is made in America.

All True. There are a lot of barriers keeping foreign brands out of the Japanese auto market, but first the younger japaneese do not seem to be as tied to japaneese products as thier elders. Second since Tesla does not market through traditional dealerships which are tied to one company. Next Teslas cars are made to order freeing it up from losses on inventory due to currency manipulation. Finally because of its use of Panasonic bateries it may not be seen as that foreign.

One thing that has always amazed me is that, somehow American car manufacturers expected to sell left hand drive cars in a left hand drive country. Anybody ho has ever driven a car with the steering wheel on the wrong side knows that it can be any where from a royal pain to downright dangerous. Add in he fact that, at the time most of the complaints were being made, US vehicles were huge (with resulting high fuel consumption) relative to most of the rest of the world and it’s no wonder the Japanese were never interested in American vehicles. Are there any countries in the wold outside of Canada where most of the Vehicles sold are imported from the US? As for accusations that Japan is a closed market with all sorts of soft barriers, how does Japan compare to Germany, another country who’s citizens often view imports as inferior products to begin with? According to data for 2013 from web site best-selling-cars dot com, the top four brands were VW, Audi, Mercedes and BMW while the next three were either German owned brands (Skoda) or German arms of US brands (Opel and Ford), to give a total 66.2%… Read more »
Those Clever Japanese. Surely, Japan would not count Japanese cars made overseas as imports…. But, that is exactly what they do. Here is an article showing imports from Jan-Sept 2012. under Imports to japan, we have VolksWag. 41,971 Nissan 34,512 For the same time period in 2011 Nissan “imported” 41,961 vehicles and Volkswagen just 37.290. Now. wait a minute, I thought that Nissan was a Japanese brand, made in Japan. What in the world are 41,961 Nissan vehicles doing on the import list ? “Something is rotten in Denmark.” Our Japanese “friends” also “imported” 13,508 Toyota and 5,884 Mitsubishi cars in the same time period. “Imported” ??? What a joke !!! Jeep, which is one of the few American brands that actually has a few sales in Japan, only managed 3,791 sales in the same period, once again compared to 5,884 so called “imported” Mitsubishi vehicles. Japan is basically a closed market, statistically rigged, with endless red-tape and bureaucracy. It’s a pro-Japanese, anti- Gaijin sales environment. To complicate matters even more, Japan is also a right hand drive country. —————————————– The Japanese have been cleverly sabotaging the import market for decades while crowning themselves the world’s supreme auto manufacturers and… Read more »

Tesla sales might surprise in Japan as the Japanese are really into high tech products.

The main downside for the Model S in many markets outside the US, is going to be it’s size, particularly the width. A video of a Model S driving on a narrow road in Norway was posted recently on this site to illustrate that issue. That road didn’t look all that narrow to me, based on the roads where I live.

Yes, I hope Tesla does well in Japan. The Japanese have nothing like it. The only thing close to Tesla might be the Eliica, which is a really cool car and is faster than a Porsche 911..

One problem for the Model S might be its size. In the land of Kei cars, the Model S is probably a large vehicle compared to a normal car, but the Eliica looks even bigger.

China might be a much better market for Tesla. Compared to Japan, it’s quite a large country with lots of room to build autobahns between its 167 cities with over a million population and it’s a much larger market than Japan.

I hate to say it, but Tesla might be doing well just to sell a few hundred cars a year in Japan but should sell in the thousands in China each year.