Fluffy Pony tweet reveals Elon Musk is bringing Tesla to SA

JOHANNESBURG — It’s quite amazing how social media can drive news coverage these days. When Riccardo ‘Fluffy Pony’ Spagni tweeted to Elon Musk on Tuesday morning about whether a Tesla store would ever come to SA, he probably never thought that Musk would actually respond. You can see the Twitter exchange pasted below but Musk has hinted that a Tesla store would essentially be coming to SA at the end of next year. The guys at Bloomberg were quick to pick up on this tweet but they interestingly refer to Riccardo simply as a ‘Tesla fan’. The reality is that Riccardo is much more than just a Tesla fan as he is well-known for being the lead developer of a major global cryptocurrency called Monero. At BizNews, we interviewed Plettenberg Bay-based Riccardo earlier this year – you can listen to the podcast by clicking here or read the full transcript in our premium section by clicking here. (In the interview, Riccardo also describes how he got the nickname ‘Fluffy Pony’.) – Gareth van Zyl

By John Bowker

(Bloomberg) – It’s been almost 30 years since Elon Musk left South Africa to start a new life in North America. Now, the billionaire may be about to bring his Tesla electric cars back home.

“Probably end of next year,” the chief executive officer of Tesla Inc. replied to a South African fan on Twitter, who asked him when a store would open in the country of the businessman’s birth. “Amazing – I’m first in line when it happens!” replied the individual.

Tesla, Elon Musk
Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk

Tesla has stores across the globe, including the US, Germany, China and Australia. But it has none in Africa, which has been broadly left out of the electric-car revolution Tesla pioneered. Lower average incomes and poor power infrastructure mean gasoline-powered cars – often bought second hand – dominate most markets on the continent.

South Africa is Africa’s most industrialised economy, but it’s not immune to those challenges. Cash constraints and delayed power plants at state utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. have led to rolling blackouts. While it’s not unheard of to see an electric car on the road, they remain the preserve of the super-rich, and charging stations would be hard to come by.

Musk, 47, left South Africa for Canada after graduating from high school in Pretoria in 1989, still five years before the end of apartheid. But the self-made billionaire and founder of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is still well known there.

Opening a Tesla store in the country could be a popular move.