Does an Electric car make sense in Zimbabwe?

Edwin Chabuka Avatar

Probably just from the title quite a handful of you are screaming and yelling NOO! Hold up people let me explain.

Now before I get to the part where it makes sense or not, I just want to give a petrol head’s view of things, seeing I’m legitimately a lover of the scent of fuel and rumbling and wheezing engine noises.

So the general thinking is electric cars are uneventful. Uneventful being we have no noise, no gears to shift and they are brutally slow. And with the very early iterations of these cars they also weren’t too easy, on the eyes so fair enough.

Aaand also the organs you had to donate to own one further ruined the idea of actually considering getting one

But the BIGGEST worry of electric cars has been how they took up to 12 hours to fully charge only to last at most about 150Km before they cried for another 12 hrs of your life…and power of course.

They just didn’t make sense at all even with the incentive that you save a couple extra bucks on carbon tax, unless you only needed it for carrying groceries from your nearest supermarket.

Taking the story home. An electric car buzzing its way on Zimbabwean streets. Does it make sense? YES!…and no.

Yes because

It would totally make sense now, well thanks to Elon Musk and Tesla, because an electric full sized sedan the size of your Mercedes Benz S-Class can now humiliate the most elite supercar in a sprint to the next traffic light.

It can take you from Harare to Bulawayo on a single charge and even do so whilst doing over DOUBLE the speed of the legal limit in Zimbabwe (If roadblocks allow of course!).

It’s electric so the space that used to be occupied by the engine and gearbox is now dedicated to an extra boot and extra leg room.

It costs as much as your average Mercedes Benz E-Class (for the bigger Tesla Model S) or as much as your average Toyota Corolla (for the more compact Tesla Model 3)

And fuel you may ask. So for the easiest comparison we take 1 liter of petrol costing about $1.35. The equivalent juice for an electric car is one unit of ZESA which is measured in KWh costing about 9.86 cents.

Oh and if you were wondering, the biggest power bank in a Tesla is a 100KWh unit so just $9.86 to brim the tank and again this takes you from Harare to Bulawayo with some change to get you to Matopos.

Its an electric car and hence the stuff that gets it going is a motor and a battery. Far much less parts than a conventional car and so maintenance costs will be much less.

No because

Filling it up will set you back about an hour (on a Tesla Charging station) or about 5 hours from the socket in your garage. Quite a long recess if you happen to want to take a road trip to the falls.

Also as I mentioned earlier on, The Model S costs as much as your average Mercedes Benz E-Class which, being more realistic, is still something for the elite. Well at least until the Model 3 is open to the public, but even then the US $35k price tag in the US means a total landed cost of $70k, which is still moderately elite.

Would I buy one?

YES! I wouldn’t mind getting myself one of these. It totally makes sense in Zimbabwe right now especially if you want a “fuel saver”. Come to think of it, an electric car is a true game changer; the performance of the most elite supercars, the range of an average sedan and your fuel costs almost much as bottled water.

It will not make sense NOT to own one. And it would make even less sense NOT to own one in Zimbabwe.


  1. Mufambi wezhira

    So I once posed a question for one government minister on Twitter asking if it was feasible for Zim to spearhead and possibly become Tesla’s launch pad into Africa. My convictions being?? Zimbabwe is rumoured to hold the world’s largest and untapped lithium deposits , a much needed resource in the production of the ion battery. Africa doesn’t have substantial oil reserves and going electric is not only green but will cut our fuel import bill. Alas, we have more pressing matters in the form of factionalism or succession issues than guaranteeing the success of future generations who are depending on the decisions we are making now

  2. Ba Taku

    i think it will make sense if the government scrape duty on electric cars

  3. Anonymous

    Good article. Before reading your arguments, I’d have said electric cars are a non-starter in Zim. Well, under the current environment, they are because the surge in demand if they were to be adopted en masse, would cripple ZESA. But in a future were we are self sufficient in terms of electricity generation, people would go for them.

    1. Gerald

      Solar my friend. ZESA would take a back seat to the solar panels on your roof. Your charge batteries during the day and charge your car with those batteries at night so you wake up to a full charge.

  4. Christerbel Erica Mujaranji

    Interesting read. I think it would make sense to own one in keeping abreast with technology! The model sounds efficient and effective in terms of performance, environmentally friendly, a fuel saver and affordable in maintenance costs compared to a conventional car. However the once off cost is much considering the economic conditions in Zimbabwe unless ceteris paribus (all things held constant) and the fact that we are not that technologically advanced with infrastructure to support these models. What of the wear and tear of the battery and the motor, a year/s down the line will the battery still last for 12 hours? Most people have become accustomed to ex-Japanese vehicles. Then again it would not make sense considering that Zimbabwe suffers from power seizures and outages!

    1. jim

      Doesn’t Zimbabwe also suffer from fuel shortages and expensive fuel? Zimbabwe does not suffer from a lack of sunlight or access to solar power.

  5. Vimbayi

    From a fuel saving perspective electric vehicles makes sense.. and the accelaration of a tesla is actually quite remarkable. However the adverse side of this has not been discussed. They guys that make the batteries and components for these vehicles have unanimously said that from a business perspective it makes business sense to SELL them. But the actual benefits and the sell point of electric vehicles is way exaggerated and oversold.
    Also one of the PRIMARY objectives of Teslas is to reduce the carbon footprint and environmental effects that plague us due to carbon fueled engines. And unfortunately the compounds used in the production of Teslas and their batteries result in MORE damage to the environment than their carbon powered counterparts even considering 0 emissions after they get on the road
    Putting all these electric vehicles on the road would actually harm our environment MORE … lithium mining is NOT CLEAN by any means… if you think our women have enough cancer problems you have no idea…
    The technolgy should still be chased … but there will never be a battery powered truck, or boat, freight liner as these would put into perspective the gross inefficiency of battery powerd vehicles when comparing mass to performance. Batteries suck…. the Tesla just happens to be small enough to appear to be on par with a fuel powered vehicle.