Russian media outlets are reporting that Tesla is preparing to establish a presence in the country, presumably in time to start selling its mass-market Model 3 there. The EV manufacturer is said to be eyeing locations in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

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Tesla seeking real estate

Russian-language news site Kommersant reported earlier this month that two of the locations Tesla is especially interested are Moscow’s Vremena Goda business center and Atrium, which is located in the Russian capital’s city center. The media outlet cited sources within the country’s real estate market and said that the company is looking for places for both showrooms for its vehicles and garages where its vehicles can be serviced. Tesla is also said to be seeking a location for its Russian headquarters.

Moscow Tesla Club head Aleksey Eremchuk reportedly told Russian media that the EV maker had already firmed up its plans to enter the country and is just waiting for the government to certify its electric cars for sale. There is some evidence that the company is preparing to enter the country because its website shows Supercharger stations planned for some locations in Russia. The locations are slated to be opened this year, so an entry into the market does seem imminent.

Will there be demand for Tesla’s cars in Russia?

A key question is whether there will be demand for the company’s vehicles in Russia, but apparently management is convinced that there will be. Not everyone is convinced, however, as AutoTesla Editor-in-Chief Anton Gorbatenko told Russia Beyond the Headlines that any demand for the company’s vehicles will probably be “modest.” One reason is because the cold temperatures there tend to be quite extreme, and cold temperatures greatly reduce the range of electric vehicles.

While it’s true that Teslas have a range that’s much longer than most EVs, Gorbatenko feels that drivers would not only need a charging station and heated garage at their home but also a place to charge their vehicles during the day while t work.

On the other hand, Alexander Klimov of analytics firm Avtostat Info told RBTH that the size of the electric car market in Russia is very small and falling. He said it declined to 83 vehicles, a 28% fall year over year in 2016. He added that at the beginning of this year, the number of registered electric vehicles in the country is still under 800. He cited a lack of charging stations and knowledge of how to fix electric vehicles.