How Uruguay Became One of Tesla’s South American Capitals

The country with the smallest population in the region stands out for having the highest number of electric vehicles per capita

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
March 23, 2023 | 12:56 PM

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Bloomberg Línea — In July 2020, the first Tesla-branded electric car (a Model 3) was sold in Uruguay, at $82,900. Since then, media reports show that by mid-2022 there were at least 50 cars manufactured by Elon Musk’s company on the road in Uruguay.

However, the first Tesla (TSLA) to arrive in Uruguay dates back to November 2017, when Orlando Dovat, president of Zonamerica, imported the S90D model from Holland on his own initiative. And today, in Montevideo you can find charging stations of the state-owned electricity company UTE, specifically designed for charging this type of “green” cars.

In proportion to the number of inhabitants of each Latin American country, the number of Tesla cars, and electric vehicles in general, that have been marketed in Uruguay is surprising. In fact, according to a BloombergNEF report by analyst Natalia Castilhos Rypl, among Latin American countries, Uruguay had the second highest percentage of electric vehicle sales as a percentage (more than 2.5%) of total car sales in the country in 2021.

According to an article published in the specialized media, out of a vehicle fleet of 1.2 million in Uruguay, an estimated 500 electric vehicles were marketed in the country in 2021. In 2020 there were 120 and 38 in 2019. In September 2022, some 1,000 100% electric cars were on the road in Uruguay.


By the end of 2021, 42 Tesla-branded cars were registered in Uruguay. The emblematic autonomous and electric vehicles arrive in the country through private individuals or investment initiatives of the Applications Commission (Comap), since the company led by tycoon Elon Musk has no official presence in Uruguay.

According to El Observador, 31 of these vehicles were registered in Montevideo.

Tesla prices in Uruguay

According to an article in the newspaper El Observador, the second most expensive electric car on the Uruguayan market today is a Tesla. It is the Model X Plaid, which is priced at US$247,500. This model accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds.


Recently, the story of three Uruguayans who set off from North America to South America to travel from Alaska to Ushuaia in a Tesla became public. And so they made the journey aboard a Model 3 and a Model Y.

“So we did it! We drove two Tesla electric cars from Anchorage (Alaska) to Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego)! We just wanted to prove that it was possible. And it is. It’s still not easy, but soon this will be normal,” tweeted Martin Casabal, one of the adventurers in question.

The main drawbacks that the three Uruguayans highlighted to different media had to do with finding charging stations for the electric battery, given that today the region does not have enough service stations prepared for this purpose.

That is why they had to find ways to fill their batteries at any socket, as they did not always have access to specialized chargers. There were times when they were forced to wait 30 to 40 hours for a full battery. “The most difficult places to charge were Canada and Peru,” they told El Observador.