Tesla has rapidly expanded its sales operations beyond just North America, opening showrooms and service centers across much of Western Europe and China as well. But one country where it’s still difficult to get a Tesla Model S is Russia, though that didn’t stop one of the country’s tech pioneers.
The Verge reports on the efforts of one Dimity Grishin, the tech entrepreneur behind Russia’s Mail.ru internet portal who paid about $180,000 to have a Tesla Model S shipped to his home country. Though he faces numerous challenges when it comes to servicing, charging, and even insuring his Tesla, Grishin remains an unabashed fan of the electric sedan.
He had to be, as it cost a small fortune and took the efforts of a dedicated team just to get through all the customs and legalese required to import such a car. Grishin has talked with Tesla regularly about bringing showrooms and service centers to Mother Russia, but so far the electric automaker hasn’t said “No” so much as “Not now.” Never one to wait around, Grishin merely imported one himself, and now regularly gives free rides to his many friends and fellow geeks.
It seems that Tesla’s reputation has preceded it in Russia, where people will line up for a chance just to go for a ride in the electric luxury sedan. To get it into Russia, Grishin had to place his order in person in the Amsterdam Tesla gallery, and then it took three weeks to get shipped across the continent and to the Russian border. There he got to have some “fun” with the border guards, who did eventually let the Model S through…possibly thanks to some greased palms. And you thought buying a Tesla in Texas was bad?
So how does Grishin charge his Tesla? Believe it or not, he doesn’t have a home charger; rather he has installed several EV chargers at his office building, a scant 25 miles from his home. He hopes to encourage his other employees to go electric too, though recent targeted sanctions against Russia may make that more difficult.
If things keep going the way they’re going, Grishin may end up with the only Tesla in Russia ever.