I think I saw a Model 3 here in Mexico City. Which is bizarre because if you go to Tesla’s Mexico page it says none of them will be delivered until 2019. I’m sorry for the blurry picture. I parked in order to take a picture of the car, but it left it’s spot immediately after I parked.

I think I encountered a Tesla employee, and it might be this woman: Françoise Lavertú. She’s the former PR director for Palacio de Hierro and she oversaw the opening of the most extravagant department store in the country. The objective of this store was “To be the best department store in the world” and rival iconic stores in European capitals like KaDeWe and Harrods. She quit after the opening of Polanco’s Palacio de los Palacios and became Country Director for Mexico in Tesla.

They already operate a number of superchargers in Mexico... which is impressive. Tesla has a particular challenge in Mexico: safety. In Mexico upwards of 2500 vehicles are bulletproofed annually: mostly luxury cars and trucks. I once asked a Jaguar Land Rover dealer in Mexico City how many of their cars are bulletproofed and he argued that it was upwards of 50% of the Range Rovers they sold. This is an issue for luxury vehicles with frameless windows: bulletproofing vehicles without framed windows is very challenging because of the “ballistic gaps” between the chassis and the window itself. Typically it’s covered by the frame of the window, so in the case of a Tesla, they need to wrap the window surround in ballistic steel, which is a very expensive process.

You can yak all you want about Tesla being luxury or not, but as long as they pay luxury car prices: it’s a luxury car.

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This without even mentioning that the fuel economy cost of adding 200-250kg of bulletproofing to a vehicle is significant. This might not hurt a regular gasoline or diesel car, as gas stations are widespread and gasoline is dirt cheap here. The impact can affect an EV since we don’t have much charging infrastructure, and anyway it is slower than filling up a tank.

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The Federal government has also been slow to react to EVs, there isn’t a federally backed tax credit here, and it’s up to states to regulate these vehicles. In Mexico City electric vehicles do not pay road tax nor do they need emission inspections (obviously). This might seem like a good way to encourage switching to EVs, but hundreds of people already use the Morelos license plate loophole to avoid road taxes on luxury cars anyway.

It’s not all bad though: Mexico is a developing country, and one of huge wealth disparities, so the market for luxury cars is only growing in size, scope, and profitability every year. In the first half of 2018 luxury car makers sold 13% more cars than in the first half of 2017. For a number of years Mexico was also one of the fastest growing markets for Mercedes Benz which sort of indicates why Tesla suddenly had an interest here. You know, apart from mineral mining.

Tesla’s biggest promise in Mexico might in the Lowlands: Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, and as far reaching as Guadalajara. These cities suffer much lower crime rates than Mexico City and are growing much quicker than it. This combination makes for a lot of people that are suddenly more comfortable without bulletproof glass.