Tesla Spotted In Colombo.

Looks like there’s a Tesla Model S on the streets of Colombo. If you haven’t heard of it, the Tesla is the coolest car ever. It’s all electric, it’s fast, it’s sexy and it’s built by a guy whose other job is launching space rockets. The Tesla was Motor Trend’s Car Of The Year in 2013, an impressive feat for a car that’s all electric and not built by a start-up company. We’re really excited to see it on the streets of Colombo, as is Twitter.

Why This Is Awesome

The Tesla and electric cars in general are great for Sri Lanka because A) it’s a small island B) we already have ridiculous duties on regular cars.


One limitation of electric cars is their range, but Sri Lanka is such a small island that this doesn’t really matter. A Tesla could get from Colombo to Jaffna (about 220 miles) within its 250 mile range (on the smallest battery). It can easily get from Colombo to Galle (77 miles) with charge to spare.

The small wonderfulness of our country also means that covering it with charging stations could be done really effectively. Arpico has already announced that they’re setting up super-chargers at all 39 of their super centers (not sure these work with the Tesla, though, they definitely work for the Nissan Leaf.)


Another advantage that Sri Lanka has is that we charge ridiculous duties on regular cars, sometimes doubling or tripling their price. We already have a lot of hybrid cars on the roads because the duties are lower (zero for a while). If the government made duties zero on electric cars, a car like the Tesla (expensive at $70,000-$90,000 in the USA) would actually be competitive with other luxury cars like Mercs, Monteros, Nissan Patrol, BMWs, etc. Internationally these cars start a bit cheaper than the Tesla, but here an electric car could really be competitive. We’ll get into our guess as to the prices below.


We won’t get into it here, but Sri Lankan electricity generation actually depends at least 50% on fossil fuels. We actually burn oil to generate a lot of electricity. This means that the environmental impact of electricity is still high and the savings are less. Above we calculated fuel costs at Rs. 165 for petrol vs electricity at Rs. 45 per kWh (the highest rate). If you own a Tesla you’re probably in that bracket, and we estimate that you’d pull down about 150 kWh per month, driving 25 km per day.

Anyways, you’d basically cut your fuel bill in half.

Besides that, you also wouldn’t be spewing exhaust into innocent trishaw riders behind you, and the overall environmental impact is better than an old-fashioned car.

Just Because

Most importantly, the Tesla is just awesome. It’s electric, silent, really really fast, handles remarkably and generally seems like a thrill to drive. It is like the iPhone of cars. Read this Oatmeal comic for more. It is, quite simply, a thing of beauty. Also, the new models can park and semi-autonomously drive themselves.

How Much Does It Cost?

UPDATE: We got this comment from Ahamed which, sadly, may be more accurate.

Firstly the US tesla is LHD and can’t use in Sri Lanka. Which mean you have to buy it from the UK which is around £60-80k. Which is around 16 mil. Plus all electric cars have a duty close to 40% which means that is around 6.5m. So when u add up all it costs 22.5m+ to Sri Lanka. So its definitely not in the range of a 5 series or prado it’s more expensive. But it’s still a good car If u can afford a car for about 25m.

We don’t know. We called EV Lanka who said they can import it in about 4-5 months, but they said we could then figure out the duty when it got here. Which is scary, but kinda how it goes. We did find this import duty calculator which linked to section 8703.90.50 of the 2013 tariff document (it’s on page 360 if you’re looking). Here’s the relevant section:

If you read that it seems like the tax is 15% plus 12% plus 5% plus 2%. We don’t know if that’s compounding or what, we’ll assume that it is (tax upon tax, because why not).

The base price on the Tesla site is $71,000 for a Model S.  If we follow the numbers above it gives a price of Rs. 12.8 million, not including whatever fees the handling agent tacks on. We have no idea if this exact figure is right, but it seems like the rough range would be between 10-20 million, which – while shocking is comparable with other luxury cars. If there were no taxes, the price would drop below 10 million.

That said, we don’t actually know how much it costs. We’ll check out the HitAds on Sunday and see if anyone is advertising. Let us know if you have any clues.


We love this car. If you’re looking for a cheaper electric Nissan Leafs are currently available for Rs. 4.4 to 5.6 million (via EV Lanka) but if you are in the market for a luxury car like a BMW or a Prado, we highly recommend that you try something more innovative and awesome, like a Tesla.

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