Cost of S

Cost of S

I love the look of the new S model but the only way it will be in my garage is if the price is not to high.I am well aware that this is a new industry and that development cost are high but to get people into them on a mass market scale they need to be affordable at the moment they arn`t.

Dan5 | September 28, 2010

Here's my reasoning for the Corolla statement- assume car life expectancy is 200,000 miles and gas is $3/gallon and $0.10/kwhr
Take out similar maintenance (shocks, brakes, struts, tires, etc)

Model S
Base price $49000, $4700 for energy - 5000 tax rebate for NJ
Total cost = $48,700

base price $21,000 (to put on "par" with the interior of the Model S x 1.07 (NJ sales tax), gets 30 mpg ($20,000), oil changes ($2000) ($50/5000 miles), alternator $500, 100 K tune up ($1000), 200 K tune up ($1000), 6 transmission flushes ( about $600), belt replacement $1000, air filters and misc ICE engine maintenance ($300), bad O2 sensor between 100 to 200 K, $500, battery $100. = $49470

To put in perspective I added up everything for my last car, when all was said and done, for a $24,000 car, it cost me roughly $60,000 over an 8 year period

jburts | September 30, 2010

I think your analysis is interesting, and you've put in quite a bit of detail into it. However, it isn't fair to include lots of maintenance on the Corolla and none on the Model S.

The figures I've been hearing are a once a year maintenance/checkup that runs $600. If you aren't fortunate enough to live within driving distance to a Tesla store, then you also have to plan for $1/mile for the Tesla Service Rangers to come to you. For me, that would come to a $1,200/yr maintenance budget. If your 200k miles were to take 6 years, that's $7,200. If you live close enough to a Tesla store, then it's only $3,600.

The costs still are amazingly close to each other, even with factoring in a budget for miscellaneous work needing to be done to the Model S (as you did with the Corolla with O2 sensor, alternator, belts, air filter, etc...)

To me, the big story is the savings on the cost of energy. Assuming that your costs are correct on the Model S using $4,700 and the Corolla using $20,000-- that's a huge difference! Even if the rest of the costs come out as a wash (and I don't think they will-- I think the Model S will have much less maintenance work), to have a Model S be only $10k more than a base model Corolla is amazing!

Timo | September 30, 2010

That $600 is for Roadster. Nobody knows what it would be for Model S. Probably less.

cookr1965 | September 30, 2010

I hate to burst the bubble, but no one here has factored in the cost of battery replacement, which is expected to be every 100k miles according to this website in the roadster specs. Cost to replace is at least 20k, so your looking at an extra 40k expense over 200k miles. Ouch.

Todd Burch | September 30, 2010

Cookr1965--that 40K value is way too high:

-200K miles averages to over 33,000 miles a year. That's a lot of driving on average. In the U.S., the average driver travels approximately 12k-13 miles a year. I haven't checked the stats, but that's probably more than those in Europe (I may be wrong). My car is now over 10 years old and has 115,000 miles on it. So 200k miles would actually take over 15 years if you consider the national average.

-Over the course of 15 years & 200k miles, only one battery replacement would be required. You get it new when you buy the car, and you replace it, on average, 7 yrs or 100K miles later (assuming Tesla's stated average battery lifetime). Given that the battery replacement is around the year 2019, it's very safe to assume that battery durability (recharge cycles, temperature tolerance, etc) will be significantly higher, range will be higher (certainly easily beyond 500 mi/charge), and cost will be lower. We might see 1000 mi range batteries for the same cost as the current 300 mi battery.

-The batteries, at the end of Tesla's stated usable lifetime, still have a significant capacity for holding charge (perhaps 60%?). Therefore, the batteries are still valuable. People will want to buy a 90ish kWh battery that can still hold 60% charge (~50+ kWh). That's still worth at least several thousand dollars.

Timo | September 30, 2010

It depends of who you ask. I live in Europe and I drove over 100 000 km in just three years. My usual daily km was around 100 just by visiting friends, shopping, school (at that time) and driving for fun. 100k miles I would have got in five years.

Model S 300 mile version will use different battery chemistry than the other two options. Also 300 miles means less full charge cycles, so it is possible that it survives way over 100k miles in working order. Or not. Depends of that chemistry they choose.

Also nobody knows what the battery will cost _in reality_ after ten years from now. Like I have written in other forum topics there are already 400+W/kg & 1000+W/L energy density batteries in prototype stage. That means that in ten years from now you might be facing an option to get _way_ cheaper and lot smaller pack (increasing performance), or have your range extended to double or over.

Todd Burch | September 30, 2010


Sounds like you drive a bit more than the US average, but I agree...I'm pretty confident that by 2017 to 2019 we'll see significant improvements in battery performance and cost.

Dan5 | September 30, 2010

I did include the standard maintenance for both cars, but for most of the similar maintenance I said they were equal or close enough for the purposes of a comparison. For example, the Corolla is going to need brakes and rotors more often because of the Tesla regenerative breaking, but at the same time, the Tesla's tires are going to be more. In terms of replacing an HVAC system, the Tesla drop down is much less labor intensive than an ICE engine. Both will need shocks, struts, coolant flushes, brake flushes. I also considered what you get for the Tesla maintenance, technically, they are more or less cleaning out your engine compartment and giving the car a multi point inspection which is a service (the car cleaning and engine detailing is around $200 service at a Toyota Dealership) and probably another few hundred for the multi point inspection so it is comparable

As for the batteries, the projected charge capacity after 100 K miles /7 years to 10 years is 70% and 49% (assuming constant rate of degradation) after 200 K/14 to 20 years as long as you don't use the quick charge feature. For 160 mile battery that would mean 122 miles and around 80 miles respectively which is more than enough to get the average US driver from point A to point B (daily commute is around 40-some miles) therefore replacement of the battery would not be an issue. That's IF they are using the LiCoO2 type batteries. If they are using different Li batteries, some of those batteries are capable of 9000 charge/discharge cycles (about 800,000 miles for the lithium titanate)

There are some "unknown" variables which are difficult to calculate. Steering (Toyota has the electronic steering, Model S steering is unknown), Insurance, cost of repair, theft of parts, how often the new technology will fail- these are all estimated based on currently available data or making reasonable assumptions (Model S has to be charge in a garage so less insurance than comparable car) . Even the paint job is difficult to estimate since it's a relatively new method. I do know that a Toyota Corolla with around 6000 miles and road rash chips does show rust (this car will probably need a $500 quick paint job between 100 K and 200 K) which the Tesla will not have since it's aluminum. This was not included since the Tesla may need a paint job also due to the solventless paint method.

Yes, like any other car there are things that could fail or go wrong, but the good part about the Model S and any electric car in general is that they have very few moving parts, parts exposed chemicals which eat away at the parts, etc, etc. Think about it this way, there are about 10 drivetrain critical parts on the Tesla and imagine each part has a 1/100,000 chance of breaking every day, over the course of a year you have a 3% chance of something breaking/year. Picture an ICE engine, say there are 100 engine critical parts- that's a 30% chance of something breaking/year, therefore the cost to repair a normal car should be 10 times the amount to repair a model S per year. This is one of the premises of six sigma

Ekkeman1 | October 14, 2010

Let's remember too that most Roadster owner's will probably go 50,000 plus miles before they need new rotors or pads. A Roadster will almost come to a stop just by taking your foot off the gas. Sooo.....No brake jobs, oil changes, belt driven A/C systems, intakes, exhausts rusting, or other explosions inside the engine trying to rip apart the engine.

THERE is no engine. Put that together with the serious "soldiers per gallon" improvement you get in an electric vehicle...and I am more than sold.

gdepaepe | October 24, 2010

I'm totally confused : for a standard model S with an estimated price of 56k$ Tesla is asking a 6k$ deposit (roughly 10%). For the Signature version however a 40k$ deposit is required wich is 70% of the list price of the standard version. So my questions are : what is the difference between the standard S version and the Signature S version to justify such a difference ? What is the estimated price of the the Signature version ? And is it possible to order a standard version and change it to a Signature and vice versa ?

Thanks for explaining


Dan5 | October 24, 2010

For starters, The signature version is a special edition- Only 2,000 in the world! Secondly, about a year ago the Tesla website said that it would have the larger battery capacity in it. it also has supposedly better performance (0-60 in 5 seconds, not 5.6). Lastly, you are paying to be the first ones on your block with the car

The short answer is No- simply because it's a special edition

The long answer is Yes, you can get very close to upgrading on par to the special edition, but there are going to be minor differences AND it will not hold the "collector's value" like the signature edition.

A good historical example is the 2002 Pontiac Trans AM, (special edition was as much as a corvette, fully loaded normal trans AM was a few thousand less) yes, performance wise you can get it to be the same, but there was a special VIN numbers which you pay a premium for.

Mark Petersen | October 25, 2010

and the special edition is for the byers that donw want to wait
if you wait and look at the wating list maybe just 3 month befor it will be released you will notis that the normal list will be 5-10.000 long but the Special Edition might only be 8-900 and still have romm for the filthy rich

Brian H | October 30, 2010

RU always inane and incoherent? Or have you just OD'd on something?

mstubbs | October 30, 2010

Hey! By the time this car is available on the market the prices will have been pushed down by the other competitors that will have already been selling there goods. I wouldn't be too concerned about pricing just yet. Competition is a lovely thing. Volt, Leaf, Karma etc.

ChristianG | November 17, 2010

Competition? Since when is Mercedes making cheaper top models because of Nissan or Renault makes cheap ones?

The volt and the leaf are really different kategories of a car performance wise. The Karma is 80$...

I wouldn't count on Tesla to make them cheaper... And I still pray that we europeans don't have to pay much more than the us guys....

Brian H | November 18, 2010

Luxury car owners don't want the prices to come down, as that just permits the hoi-polloi to poach on their territory and debase the exclusive snob appeal of their cars. In reality, a Caddy costs about 20% more to make than a Chevy, but is priced 2-3X as high.

jliv | November 19, 2010

For the most part I am inspired by all the chat about the Model S. I love the Toyota Corolla comparison. I feel like I've put a deposit down on something that will end up being worth more after I buy it then before. People will be sending me unsolicited offers via PayPal, or chasing me down the street to try to buy my car. Yippee!

But there is one thing that concerns me, and that's quality. I'm talking fit and finish. The sound of the door when you close it. A smooth, rattle-free ride. The attention to those little details, like moldings and switches. Companies like Mercedes and BMW have refining their products for decades. Will Tesla be able to achieve this kind of quality in their first production luxury sedan?

I look forward to reading your comments.

jliv | November 19, 2010

My sincere apologies. I posted my previous message in the wrong thread.

Fulcrum2010 | November 25, 2010

Here is my input... but first i would like to take my hat off to brave investors who supported Tesla R&D and now here we are landed with a Model S, a super luxury sedan that you dont have to waste money on fuel and lubricants...

USD 50K price tag? Not bad for a start. However, if Tesla R&D would ever get this sweet beauty for a price tag of USD 36000 there you go.... beat every car and you will see it is mostly Tesla Model S on the road everywhere in the world.....

Why not try a city car for 4 passengers in future very soon for a lower price tag? you are beating everybody else.

Finally, how about a SUV within a price bracket of USD 36000-42000.... It will be only Tesla's on the roads by 2020 or atleast Tesla powertrains in most popular makes... That is my dream...

gotwins | November 25, 2010

I know some of this has already been covered briefly in this forum but I was hoping get a little more information on the federal tax credits and state rebates.

First, let me tell you I live in California. Second, I was doing some research on the tax credits and the $7500 is at the federal level, right? The way I understand it is if we were to purchase a Model S we would receive a tax credit of $7500 so when we do our taxes we can reduce our taxable income by $7500. Am I on the right page here?

Also, since I live in California, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) offers a $5000 rebate if we purchase a Zero Emissions vehicle. This is separate from the $7500 federal tax credit, correct? (Side note, the Model S isn't on the list of CARB approved vehicles as of right now, however the Roadster is an approved vehicle. I'm assuming once the Model S is available it too would be added to the approved list.)

So if my thinking is correct if the Model S is added to the CARB approved list and if the $7500 tax credit is still available when the Model S comes to market the Model S would run us Californian's about $44900, right?

- $7500 Federal Tax Credit
- $5000 CA State Rebate
= $44900

This number doesn't take into consideration any sales tax, which brings up another question. Are automobile purchases in California held to the same sales tax as any other purchase?

Any and all help would be great!

Thanks, John.

Vawlkus | November 26, 2010

*sigh* Ok, I'll say it again, for the 800th time.
Tesla does not have the capital to develope a new electric car with that little with the facilities they had to start with. In order for them to R&D and build a car in that low a price range, they are first building the expensive sports car to prove electric works, then taking the money they earn from those sales to build a luxery sedan so they can use the money from the sales of THAT car (the model S) so they can build a more affordable 4 door street car (under development as project Bluestar).
Do we all understand that now? Can I stop repeating this same statement every couple of weeks now?

Dan5 | November 26, 2010

With regards to sales tax, yes in California you do have to pay sales tax like any other vehicle. In some states, like NJ, there is no sales tax. Also the tax credit- it's not a reduction on your taxable income, the way I understand it, is that you get that money back- similar to the 8K rebate for 1st time home buyers a few years ago. So let's say your federal taxes for the year are 6000 K, you would not be able to take full advantage of the rebate unless it was split over a number of year, which I don't think they can do that. For people who can afford the Model S, I think their tax liabilities are well over 7,500 K/year (average gross income probably around 50 K in order to get that tax liability) . The state rebate may be a little shaky though since you would need to be taxed alot more than the federal level in order to get the rebate. (For NJ at least, you need to make a gross of around 80 K in order to take full advantage of the rebate)

gotwins | November 26, 2010


Thanks for the reply, very useful information. I was able to dig up some more info on the Tax Credit. A Tax Credit reduces your tax liability which means if some one makes $25,000 a year his tax liability is rather low so he will only be able take a partial advantage of the $7,500 tax credit. Ideally, you're correct, the people who can afford a $60,000 car usually have a higher tax liability therefore they'll take full advantage of the tax credit.

As for the State Rebate, I wasn't able to locate any information about how it could be related to one's taxes. However, the way I understand it is the state rebate is straight cash given to an individual or business for purchasing a Zero Emissions Vehicle. What the State of California is doing is not a tax credit it's a rebate.

If that is the case then if you live in California you can subtract an additional $5,000 off the total. Sounds pretty good to me but then again, I don't know if I'm reading everything correctly. Let me know what you think.

Georg | November 26, 2010

Correct, the CA $5k is a rebate and has nothing to do with your state or federal tax liability. The $5k when received as cash may, however, be subject to income tax (there are debates on this ongoing) at both federal and CA state level. Whether there will be funding available for the $5k rebate when Model S is delivered in 2012+ is an entirely different issue.
More info:

Rrroger | December 6, 2010

It would be interesting to see 2 simultaneous equations to define the cost of an ICE (I see that acronym for gasoline vehicles, but what is it?) -versus EV. The new ICE costs $28,500.00 and gets 25.5 mpg new, then -2 mpg less, for each 32,000 miles later, and 3 mpg stuck in traffic, with gasoline costing $3.52 per gallon X 48,000 miles driven per year. Oil changes could be based on $40.00 per 5,000 miles. Since most new vehicles have new car warranties, the price added would be what ever the warrenty costs (zero $, or ?) THEN

EV costs $59,500 less Federal and State rebates/Tax credits, plus (360 days per year X 13 cents per KWHr X 30(?) Kwhrs per day (= would be about 100 miles per day recharge needed?) ) plus EV insurance costs could be calculated as twice as much as $110/month for the ICE. Would it be about $220 per month for the EV in California? (Not in LA or San Francisco, which would be much higher.)

What other reasonable, or more exact variables would be needed to find out this FIRST year cost, AND then to find a break even year, when the gasoline car becomes less efficient? We should probably ignore collisions and mechanical breakdowns, for now.

How are High average mileage drivers (230 miles per day) affected by these formulas?

Does anyone have a set of formulas with these, or better variables? ? ?

Timo | December 6, 2010

@Rrroger: ICE (I see that acronym for gasoline vehicles, but what is it?)

That's "internal combustion engine". It is a reference for the engine, not the car itself, though many seem to leave that "car" out of the sentence.