Tesla Comes to Israel: Electric Cars To Zoom (Quietly) Around Holy Land

Electric cars produced by entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company to go on sale with prices expected to start at 250,000 shekels ($78,000).

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

The California-based Tesla electric car company founded by flamboyant entrepreneur Elon Musk has obtained approval from Israel’s Ministry of Transport to begin importing and selling its cars, Globes reported Monday.

Tesla will be allowed to sell without restriction and online sales are expected to start in the near future, having been previously restricted to import of up to twenty vehicles, mostly for testing purposes.

It marks the first time that a vehicle manufacturer has been allowed to directly import and sell their cars instead of having to use a local company to partner with, the report said.

Tesla will start accepting online orders from Israeli customers this week and the first Tesla electric cars are expected to be driving on Israel’s roads in the coming months.

The company is looking for sites to install its special charging stations, which are needed to charge the cars, as well as trying to speed up the process of getting permits to set up charging points in public locations and large apartment buildings.

Road services for the Tesla cars will be provided by the Israeli company Shagrir, an established towing and roadside service company.

The first Tesla models to hit the roads in Israel are expected to be the Model 3, which will be offered in several versions and driving ranges. Although prices have not yet been announced, initial sales will probably be of the basic Tesla Model 3 SR+, which has a range of about 440 kilometers between charges.

According to Globes, the price tag for the Tesla Model 3 cars is expected to ranged from 250,000-350,000 shekels ($78,000-109,000) depending on the version.

Car and Driver Magazine lists the base price in America for the Model 3 at $39,000 and the huge price increase in Israel is due mainly to the high import taxes on all automobiles. The price increase coupled with high taxes on gasoline has helped fund a massive infrastructure overhaul in Israel that has seen the government invest tens of billions of shekels over the past three decades to modernize Israel’s road transport system.

Earlier this year, Tesla announced it was also setting up an R&D office in Israel with an eye to partner with some of the Israeli startups involved in the development of autonomous (self-driving) car technology.

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