Elon Musk says Tesla is coming to Romania soon

The announcement came in the wake of an obtuse tweet noting that the flags of Romania and Chad are amazingly similar. The blue is a slightly different shade – you do see that don’t you? While of course the most important thing is that Tesla is finally coming to Romania, after years of promise (in the form of proposed Supercharger stations on the map), I need to first discuss the flag situation.

The purpose for “Flags” of nations and other jurisdictions derives from Heraldry a.k.a. Coats of Arms. One purpose of this was to give troops insignia visible from across a battlefield so that the general or king or voivode can know how the battle is progressing. It’s therefore necessary that each country have individualized symbols. In the case of Romania and Chad, the similarity results from an accident of history.

Romania has used these three colors since the mid-1800’s, and they denote the three major regions (Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldova). Yes, Transylvania is a real place that is quite different from the fiction made up by Hollywood. When Chad formed as a country in 1960, the Romanian flag was under the influence of a Communistic regime and therefore the Romanian flag was graced with the Communist Coat of Arms. That left Chad free to make a red/gold/blue flag design, and they did. Then in 1989 when Romania overthrew its Communist dictator, one step the people in the street took was to cut the Communist Coat of Arms out of their flags, and as a result when the non-Communist government formed they designated a new flag that was simply the three stripes. For many more details on this, there is a Quora posting to read (and in which I participated).

If you did not want this tangent into the history of Romania, blame Elon Musk since he brought up the subject. What I just did is to prove that my coverage of EV News in Romania is because I’m authentically interested in Romania.

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Announcing that Tesla is coming to Romania

Among the many fun replies to Elon Musk’s tweet was this reply by Elon Musk.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announcing that Tesla is coming to Romania

Upgrade 100 is described elsewhere as “ICEEfest, considered CE & SE Europe’s premium Digital Marketing Conference, takes place every June in Bucharest, with 60+ keynote speakers on stage.” Therefore Dragos was inviting Elon Musk to speak at a conference, but the real news is that Tesla will open sales and service centers in Romania.

Which is a sign of Tesla’s continued expansion. But maybe not just to Romania, but to the rest of Eastern Europe.

Tesla Motors in Eastern Europe

Tesla Supercharger network, Europe, September 2019

Consider this map of the Supercharger network. The grey markers are proposed locations. Tesla has had grey markers in Eastern Europe for a few years now. Notice how this map thinks so little of Eastern Europe that they plopped the Middle East right on top of that region.

Since at least WWII, the split between Western and Eastern Europe was formed by the line of countries within the Soviet sphere. While Romania kept itself from being directly dominated by Russia, they did have a Communist government.. er.. I’m getting distracted again. The real point of this paragraph is that Eastern Europe today is treated differently than Western Europe. It could simply be that economically the Communist years did not treat Eastern Europe well, and Eastern Europeans tend to be much poorer than in Western Europe.

A criticism of Tesla is that the company focuses on serving rich people, and is not doing much to help poor people. That stems from Tesla’s original business model of starting with expensive cars and plowing profits into business development until eventually it could supply inexpensive cars. That’s a laudable goal, but we see here proof that Tesla allowed a Divide to form in terms of who it serves. This map demonstrates a rough dividing line where Tesla does not have service in Eastern Poland, none of the Baltic countries, most of Hungary, parts of the former Yugoslavia, none of Romania nor Bulgaria nor Greece nor Turkey nor Belarus nor Ukraine nor Russia.

Having walked the streets of several Romanian towns I can attest to there being a number of rich peoples’ cars in that country, and can attest to there being electric vehicles in Romania.

Non-Tesla EV Charging in Eastern Europe (CCS and CHAdeMO)

EV Charging infrastructure in Eastern Europe – Source: PlugShare

As proof that there are electric vehicles in Eastern Europe, consider this map. It was captured from Plugshare on September 9, 2019 with the map configured to show both ComboChargingSystem and CHAdeMO support. Clearly there are lots of such charging stations all through the area. And for there to be this many charging stations there must be electric cars.

Therefore we can only conclude that Tesla is playing catch-up in Eastern Europe.

What does it mean to “Open”?

What Elon Musk wrote is “Hoping to open in Romania soon” without giving specifics.

What makes sense is for Tesla to do more than just set up Supercharger stations. We used this earlier as a substitute to show the lack of Tesla’s presence in Romania.

Tesla Stores, Service Centers, and Destination Chargers, Europe, September 9, 2019 – Source: Tesla

Here’s another map, (showing sales & service centers plus destination chargers) which again demonstrates the divide between Eastern Europe and Western Europe. Tesla has very little presence in Eastern Europe, not just Romania but elsewhere.

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Consider the non-Tesla charging infrastructure in Eastern Europe. Doesn’t that indicate there are electric cars in that region? Therefore isn’t Tesla missing out on some sales by not even having a presence in that region?

Presumably “Open” means to establish Sales and Service centers. But .. Elon .. There aren’t even any grey markers for such centers within the borders of Romania. Why are you saying Romania is going to open soon? If that’s true, why aren’t there markers showing on this map?

Conclusion

I’ve watched the grey markers in Eastern Europe on Tesla’s maps for a long time. For instance one of the Supercharger locations is proposed for Craiova, a city to which I’ve traveled several times. While Craiova is one of Romania’s larger cities, it’s not exactly on the main road to anywhere, and why is Craiova blessed with a proposed Supercharger location when Cluj-Napoca (a larger city) is not. Could it be because Craiova is the site of a Ford factory?

In any case the real point here is that Tesla has a lot of catching-up to do in Eastern Europe. The announcement to open in Romania soon could be a sign that Tesla is hoping to do so.

Or it could be another of these things Elon Musk tweets and then never happens – like that announcement of taking Tesla private.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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