$600/year kills the beauty of electric car!

$600/year kills the beauty of electric car!

I'm a technology enthusiast and also have some Tesla stocks. I was very interested in Tesla from the beginning of the company.

And I've planned to have the model S for my next car, but after walked out from Tesla's showroom in Santana Row after learning about the maintenance cost, I'm really disappointed.

The real beauty of electric car technology compare to combustion engine is cleaner, simpler, more reliability, better performance. Why isn't maintenance cost getting lower?

What if I'm happy with the current software version and don't want any new updates?

What if I really know how drive the car in such a way that could save the brake pads for a longer time?

What if I want to do all the basics maintenance by myself: windshield wipers, tire rotations, brake pads,..

I know Tesla company is still a young company and really need money to keep things going, but i think the mandatory $600/year maintenance cost is not reasonable.

Why don't Tesla:

* Allows customers to decline software update (if it is not a major update). If it is a major update, it should be free since that is equivalent to a recall.

* Allows car owners to perform some basic maintenances without voiding the basic warranty (battery, motor, transmission..). For example, owner could replace brake pad by himself if he want to. Tesla could sell parts and also provide tutorial video on youtube...

* Customers who don't want to maintenance by himself could just pay $600/year.

I own a Toyota, and usually decline many services offered by the dealer since I knows many of them are not necessary.

Many simple things such as changing air-filter, windshield wipers, tire rotations...are always be done by myself.

I know the Model S is not an economy car, but it should have options for people who has less money, who want to drive it and spend time to maintain it (instead of spending money).

If I spend $50k on an electric car, I really want it to beat my Toyota Camry in all aspects: cleaner, less maintenance, less operational cost (electric).

With $50k, I could just go with Mercedes, BMW, Lexus... if I really want a luxury sedan with all the stupid gadgets and a huge engine.

I think to help reduce the warranty cost for Tesla, it should provide an environment to help owners to reduce maintenance cost in long-term (DIYs, tutorials, parts...). Since it is not about the 4 years of warranty and maintenance, people will expect to own and drive this car for ten, fifteen, twenty years.

Hope this will help.


Phillip Phan
San Jose, CA

Brian H | October 17, 2012

So full of errors and nonsense it's hardly worth discussing.
TM has 0 years service requirement experience to base its estimates on, and has gone with the lowest prudent service requirement and data collection system it could. "Prudent" is the operative term.

Charging just less than 1% of purchase price per year for "everything but the tires" is hardly excessive.

Comparing the S to a Toyota shows you have no clue about what TM is dealing with.

After 5 or 10 years of accumulated company service experience, such training as you suggest may make sense. Right now, NOT!

Timo | October 17, 2012

Multiposting to different sections of this forum is not appreciated. I'd flag this as inapproriate, but Brian managed to reply already.

Joshua Burstyn | October 17, 2012

I agree with the sentiment that the maintenance requirement and cost seem high. (For an electric vehicle). On the other hand, Brian brings up a good point; we are essentially paying for Tesla to keep doing all the good things that brought us to their doorstep in the first place. Development of vehicles is notoriously expensive as are any recalls/warranty repairs. Good employees whom we can trust to repair our masterpieces don't come cheap, either.

I've spoken with my wife and we agree that being early adopters means we'll pay more, experience a greater number of problems and need to work with Tesla more closely than if we bought a Toyota.

I'm sorry if these factors ruined the car for you. I hope you'll take some time and think about it and perhaps reconsider the purchase.

Vawlkus | October 18, 2012

+1 to Brian H

If you don't like the costs, don't buy the car. It's simple really.

danielccc | October 18, 2012

$600 is a good deal if you consider supercharging, but IMHO the base battery Model S should have a somewhat lower charge. Tesla can assume that the 40kw S will accumulate fewer miles, on average, since it is more likely to be purchased by people who drive less.

I know that in theory supercharging is unrelated to maintenance, but from a value prop perspective its a part of the same package.

danielccc | October 18, 2012

Also +1 to Brian H. I cannot imagine anybody who is really serious about this car walking out on the basis of the $600.

phtphan | October 18, 2012

It's not just $600. It's $600/year for about 20 years.

Sorry I'm not rich enough to change car every 4 years.

zGerman | October 18, 2012

600/year is $50/month, being fresh out of college it doesn't seem too much. Going out every weekend having a great dinner with the fiance, a bar night.

If you put it in perspective, what you pay a year for a combustion engine car's maintenance: $150 for a oil change for a lux sedan (I had a 15 year old BMW 745il before I started leasing cars, where maintenance was included), ruining our air quality, time and money at the pump, etc. ... It doesn't seem a lot.

Some people drop $4 every day on a non-fat-double-whip-cream-mochachino-latte ($4@28days=$112)

What would be more interesting would be some benchmarks about battery/$/mile and if there are any attractive leasing offers/packages that include maintenance (turn key solutions).

And don't forget that you are driving a top of the line performance and safe car, by far.

This is still the beginning.

philiparnason | October 18, 2012

Nobody said you have to get the maintenance. Service, warranty work, and who knows what else is a risk no matter how you dice it. If you feel comfortable taking on that risk yourself, feel free to not get maintenance, and do the work yourself. I, for one, do not. For a brand new car and as an early adopter, I feel much better making a $600/year investment to counter the risk. Think of it as an insurance payment. In Oregon, you may put $50,000 on retainer with the state and not pay insurance premiums. However, it's much simpler to simply make an insurance payment.

olanmills | October 18, 2012

"If you don't like the costs, don't buy the car. It's simple really."

Or I can buy the car and complain about the high maintenance cost.

That's the option I'm going with.

$2400 or $1900 worth of maintence for the first four years, is way more than you would expect to pay for maintence on your average new car. It's as simple as that really.

And yes, I understand that you save money not buying gas and blah blah blah

Vawlkus | October 19, 2012

I'm paying two to four times that over the first 4 years of owning my current car, so you'll pardon me if I think of your opinion as foolish.

Timo | October 19, 2012

$600 / year is small price for service that covers pretty much everything you need to do to the car. ICE car maintenance is higher. Really. Take a look at any site that counts TCO of ICE cars what they estimate the maintenance to be. It's surprising how much money you use just to maintain your ICE car, especially if it is a bit older one. You just don't realize it because it builds up so gradually.

It just makes BEV a bit less appealing because TCO then is closer to ICE car, but it will still be less.

olanmills | October 19, 2012

Are you counting gas though? How could you spend $4-8k on maintenence, unless you count gas? Do you own a Bugatti?

Timo | October 20, 2012

Without counting gas. ICE cars are surprisingly expensive to keep, especially the more expensive ones with some mileage behind them. Oil changes, belts, spark plugs etc. etc. that just don't exist in BEV all count.

It is true though that many of the new ones come with quite a long mileage maintenance for free before you need to start paying. That's the difference between Model S $600 annually and new high-end ICE cars, and IMO the mistake Tesla made. They could have given first year free and after that you would need to start paying. I don't expect there to be much to fix in first year that doesn't fall under warranty.

jerry3 | October 20, 2012

First of all, it's $495 a year if you purchase the four year plan and don't get the optional unlimited Ranger service. $600 for the Ranger plan and the convenience of having the Ranger service your car at your home or office is very reasonable.

Compared to Toyota's black-box model where you take the car in and you never talk to, or even see, the person who supposedly does the work...Well, the $600 for driveway service seems like a bargain. In the Toyota model, I'm pretty sure that what the inspection consists of is making the check marks on the piece of paper. I've yet (in 140,000+ miles) have them say that they found something, unless I told them to specifically look at it. Roadster owners indicate that the Tesla ranger disassembles many parts of the car and really does a through inspection--not just put the check marks on the piece of paper. My hope is that this won't change when there are many more Teslas in service.

Brian H | October 20, 2012

Timo: "They could have given first year free and after that you would need to start paying. I don't expect there to be much to fix in first year that doesn't fall under warranty."
How would you know (with 0 years history)? Should TM be willing to "bet the farm" on that? Moreover, "under warranty" is free to you, not to TM. The tight checking and detailed servicing is both investigation of usage/wear and part of TM's "self insurance". A stitch in time, and all that.

Alex K | October 20, 2012

@Timo | OCTOBER 20, 2012: They could have given first year free and after that you would need to start paying.

Actually, the first year is free because the $600 does not need to be paid until your 12500mi/anual inspection.

jerry3 | October 20, 2012


That's assuming you don't want the quantity discount for purchasing four years at once.

Brian H | October 20, 2012

Alex K;
That inspection does not per se cost $600, and I gather you have 30 days after delivery to decide on the Service Plan. So I don't think waiting a year is "on".

Alex K | October 21, 2012

@Brian H | OCTOBER 20, 2012 So I don't think waiting a year is "on".

From it indicates that the $600 is paid for at the "annual (or 12,500mile) inspection":

In North America, a one-year (or 12,500-mile) service plan costs $600. This price covers your annual inspection and all wear and tear parts, excluding tires. This plan is paid for at the time of your annual (or 12,500-mile) inspection.

Timo | October 21, 2012

I read "annual or 12,500miles" as whichever comes first. Problem with my driving would be that this 12,500 miles comes first. Problem for someone that purchases this car as very short range commuting vehicle that annual comes first.

Getting 12500 miles annually is not tough, and that is one reason I want a BEV. Fuel costs here are insane with that amount of driving.

Lets say 1200 miles about 4 times a year (600mile round trip) and then 200+ days just to go to work 30 miles away (again round trip, so 60 miles daily). That's 16800 miles, and it doesn't even count the trips to make grocery shopping or whatever. Fuel costs using low consumption car (30mpg) gives us 560 gallons times $8 = $4480. Electricity costs for same distance would be roughly one tenth of that using Model S consumption. Annual inspection makes is twice as high, but still quite a bit less than with gas costs.

Brian H | October 21, 2012

There's ambiguity there; the fact the 1-yr. plan isn't prepaid doesn't mean that's the same as no plan, just pay-as-you-go for annual inspection. Which would imply you declare up front which way you're going to go. That would accommodate, e.g., a service call at 6 mo. from a Ranger as being "part of the plan".

Vawlkus | October 22, 2012

Nope, it's just a Ford 'Stang.

Volker.Berlin | October 22, 2012

Hmmm... Why don't you think it's sufficient to discuss it there?

mjrickard | October 29, 2012

I agree it is a HUGE negative. All the Tesla Fanboyz are slamming you pretty good with hte option to NOT buy the Model S.

I'm reservation holder 2783 and I'm pretty much decided to cancel it based on this eggregiously stupid move by Tesla. If $600 per year is such a minor expense on a $100K car, then why isn't it included in the price?

I think this is an enormous misstep by Sir Musk. So far it has pretty much eliminated a $104k as configured sale, and I've liquidated about $550,000 in Tesla stock over the issue.

An over reaction? I don't think so. The claim is to build the best car in the world. Yet nickel and diming the owners with this truly GOOFY maintenance fee is just plain moronic. How about a 10 year bumper to bumper we cover everything AND provide roadside service concept?

Does this seem ridiculous. Both Lexus and Khia used this EXACT technique to break into the market. They don't do it today. But when they were the new kids on the block they did. It was a blatant power statement that the "new car" to consider was bullet proof and THEY put their money where their mouth was.

If electric cars are so maintenance free, and so reliable, then this should be a no brainer and a strong way of making that statement.

I note an ongoing flow of brilliance punctuated by mysterious lapses that are just nonsense. A couple of cars get bricked and Tesla pulls out the fine print on them? What kind of money are we talking here ot just NOT have this issue come up in the press? And make a couple of idiot owners happy and carrying the tale of how GOOD Tesla service is.

Now this $600 maintenance thing. Almost TOO stupid for comment. Where do these brain farts come from? Straight from the top. It's like the Turret's syndrome of genius. Briliiant, except for these occasional blurt outs of stupid coming from nowhere.

And then there is the proprietary thing. So Elon has a better engineered plug? SAE has adopted an ugly one. So why does he not seek for his "better" plug to become a defacto standard? Like by SHARING it and allowing others to use the same thing and the same Superchargers. No. Not only not standard, but also strongly proprietary. A "closed" standard. ?????

THen either Tesla Model S owners wind up stranded, or everybody else does. Promoting EV adoption? Or a secret ploy to making serious money with FREE charging? A kludgy SAE adapter for his elegant power cord? Earth to PLanet Elon...come in Elon...

Turrets syndrome. Brain hiccups. Something.

Totally dead bricked worthless Teslas floating on the media pond. Somebody or several somebodies paid $100 grand for a Roadster and wound up with ..... nothing. A $600 annual maintenance fee on a $100K car that does what for whom? And a bizarre charge off into proprietary fast charging to accomplish???? To guard a proprietary data exchange protocol?????

Now, let's play some games.

1. My 104K car was $106.5k and included free maintenance for life. How could I tell without test instruments and a total hack of the Tesla IT system?

2. Let say Tesla SELLS the inlet port and the data communications module allowing you to retrofit ANY electric car to connect to their SuperCharger network. Now lets say no one buys it. On the other hand let's say everyone with an electric car buys it. Who cares? It would have a chance at a defacto standard.

3. Let's say on the other hand Tesla adopts J1772 Rev B. What damage? What's the downside for Tesla. What's the downside for Model S owners? Where's the beef?

4. Let's say I wanted to introduce a disruptive car technology with a new car in a new factory and had a billion investment in it? I would have a crack team of 25 ninjas who would identify, and locate ANY customer with any complaint at all. Then they would immediately launch an assualt on their location and kill them and all their family members, burn the buildings, and pave over the lot with concrete within 24 hours. Total containment of dissenting complaint.

5. As an option to 4, I would just make them happy and send them forth telling the tale of the unbelievably stupid thing they had done and how Tesla's Ritz Carlton level concierge serviced had bailed them out anyway. If the car is that good, we are always talking about the miniscule percentage that are preternaturally bent on unhappiness.

Go deal with Ritz Carlton, American Express, Summit Racing, McMaster Carr, or any of the other companies that simply execute and provide great customer service at all times and at all costs. It has not driven them into despair and bankruptcy actually.

Jack Rickard

Mercedes | October 29, 2012

"If the car is that good, we are always talking about the miniscule percentage that are preternaturally bent on unhappiness."

So, that'd be you, Mr Rickard?

Brian H | October 29, 2012

Blah, blah. I'm sure Rickard would be reduced to gibbering incoherence in a TM management meeting, despite being chockfull of irrelevant certainties. From Lexus to ninja assassins, loud certain inanities.

rmitchum | October 29, 2012

ZZZzzzz . . . Oh, sorry, I dozzed of around GOOFY.
Did I miss anything important?

mjrickard | October 29, 2012

Wow. Now THERE's some brilliant responses. Are all Tesla owners dull like that???

This is all starting to become clear.....

Surely some one can give me a nah, nah ,nah, nah, nah nah.... That will set me straight...

Jack Rickard

Mercedes | October 29, 2012

My question wasn't Socratic, Mr. Rickard. Who's dull now?

Btw, not a Tesla owner, so you'll need a new theory.

Earl and Nagin ... | October 29, 2012

Mr. Rickard,
You don't seem to understand the difference between Lexus and Kia. They copied a 70-year old technology that had nearly all of the early bugs worked out on it and everyone knew how it performed.
Tesla is starting with a fairly clean slate and building something completely new. New things need to be looked at fairly closely since there are unknown unknowns and nobody knows the trends yet.
Think about it: How do we know that it is good to change the oil at 5,000 mile intervals and the belts at 30,000? Its because we have millions of vehicle years of experience. Tesla doesn't have this so they need to closely watch their vehicles.
This means they have 2 choices: Pay for these inspections using borrowed capital or allow their early adopters to help pay.
This issue came up early on with the Roadsters and it was determined that the regular inspection cost about $1,200. Remember Tesla mechanics aren't your average grease monkey, they're top-notch technicians and it takes quite a while for the inspection. The decision back then was for Tesla to absorb half of the cost and pass the rest on to the customer.
Sure, we'd like to have it free but this seemed arguably reasonable.
You, then, have the choice to wait about 70 years, until the KIAs and Lexus's are able to cheaply copy Tesla or get on board now and join the visionaries who are leading our society into a sustainable world in style. Nobody is telling you how to spend your hard-earned money but I really think you'd love a Tesla Model S.

Tiebreaker | November 1, 2012

Dear Mr. Rickard,

I am really sorry for your loss. Of $35,000 +. That you would have earned if you sold your TSLA today instead of Friday.

This pretty much summarizes your business savvy.

Fog | November 2, 2012

pretty funny, 600 bucks is the deal breaker on a $100,000 car! yeah, I know it's 600 a year, but really that will be the deal breaker? and how many folks with $100,000 cars doing their own oil changes?

jerry3 | November 3, 2012

Fog +1

$600 is pretty much what any low maintenance car costs for service (and many cost way more). Remember--it's not free just because it's included in the vehicle price. You still pay for it. Tesla is just paying the PR price for being honest.