someone help me decide on Model X

someone help me decide on Model X

My family member has a model S and really enjoys it. It seems really cool, and he was deciding between that and a BMW 7 series. He is happy with his choice.
i am considering a deposit on the Model X, but I need some help with economics.
I have no doubt that it will be the best SUV out there. But "best" isn't the only factor for me, economics are a big part of it.
Just like I don't live in the best house, nor do I drink the best wines, I have economic limits.

I was considering a 50k MDX or infiniti SUV or lexus SUV. Getting a well equipped and luxurious one is pretty easy at that price, and I would be spoiled to think that it wouldn't be adequate, since this is almost twice what the average american pays for a car. I am not a spoiled person, and so I can't justify the cost based on emotions or whiz-bang hardware or falcon doors. I am trying to make the SUV a wise choice as far as affordability.

If the Model X is 100k, how can I make the economics favorable?
With the acura or lexus, I would be able to invest the other 50k, but would have to pay gas.
With the tesla, I would save on gas, and a tax credit of 7500. Gas, at $4 per gallon wouldn't add up to the 42,500 difference.
I drive 12,000 miles a year.

Assuming both cars get me to work safely and around town with my kids, how can I make the economic argument work over luxury SUVs.

I am trying to justify the price with my finances, so I am trying to look at this objectively. What part of the economic argument am i not accounting for? IS there a spreadsheet which can help? I would like to make the numbers come close, so i can justify the rest on emotion.

The acceleration, etc is really not important to me since i rarely drive more than 75-80mph, I am more of a safer driver at stay around 70mph.

I am hoping someone can help with some numbers to bridge the gap.

Brian H | March 16, 2014

The next time you get hit by a speeder, you'd save more than $30K worth of kids and wives. Gas savings will make up the difference. ;p

christine.eichin | March 16, 2014

I think, especially having children, you should put a monetary value on not polluting the environment, too. It's huge!

If you commute, having access to carpool lanes might save you TIME = money.

Depending on where you are, and whether or not you need to pay bridge or express lane tolls, with HOV (carpool lane) stickers, bridge tolls may be 50% and express lane access free during commute hours.

Maintenance is most likely less on the Tesla, too, particularly if you consider a prepaid plan.

With wireless, free software downloads, it feels you're always driving the newest model.

Tâm | March 16, 2014


1) Environment:

Some people are willing to pay more for the privilege of oil abstinence.

It's the same way as some people pay dearly for solar panels and they may not recuperate the cost for decades.

Your garage floor is nice and clean.

Your car is safe, its occupants survive with no major injuries thus far.

Your garage is safe, the less invisible smog people create, the better the air.

2) Save Time:

No more stopping a gasoline station every week or two.

No more danger associated with gasoline stations.

No more mundane oil change maintenance.

3) Finance: Depends:

You can plug in your numbers and see the answer at:

Financially, you do not save much when you drive very little.

I drive a lot:

34,000 miles / year

@ 22MPG

Gallon / year =1,545.45G

@ $3.80/Gallon

Annual Gasoline Cost=$5,872.73

kW cost= $0.11

Full Annual Charges (265miles)= 34,000miles/268miles=128.30

Full charge cost=$0.11 x 85kWh= $9.35

Annual Charge Cost=$1,199.62


So in 10 years, it's about $46,731.00 saving (majority of electricity cost is free from Supercharger which is not calculated.)

Since Model X is an expensive car, so it only makes sense if you compare it with another expensive car like BMW X6 M.

When 2 prices are comparable, so if the fuel charges are free then now you are talking!

sambb | March 16, 2014

Nice responses
Unfortunately, I live in the midwest - we don't have HOV or carpool lanes where I live, no tolls and even few bridges.

The maintenance maybe worth a few thousand dollars, but the other SUVs are pretty reliable, and prepaid maintenance isn't bad.

Lets say that accounts for 2-3 thousand dollars.

Gas at $4 per gallon in my area (a 15-20% increase from current price) at 4000 gallons might be $16 thousand.

Part may be counterbalanced by more depreciation on any 100k car vs a 50k car, and the idea that the extra 50k could be invested. Nevertheless, it is hard to calculate that.

I am still off by 30 thousand dollars in reaching an economic argument. Are there any other economic ideas to bridge the gap? We are almost half way, so I am really trying to find those dollars so I can check that box off! Then it comes down to colors, options, reliability, etc!

sambb | March 16, 2014

Tam, thanks, but I don't drive that # of miles, so that's not a factor.
And, the extra 50k over 10 years can be invested, so that might be (in a safe tax exempt 10 year bond), a 3% return annually, which will grow to 75k in a safe investment. Could be higher if invested in the S&P, or lower if there are crashes and recession. But if that happens, cost of fuel would also go down.

I can see how, with your mileage it works, but what about those of use who drive 12k miles a year? 34k is not typical for most of us perhaps.

Thanks again, however, for clarifying. There has to be a way.

sambb | March 16, 2014

Tam, one last comment. You said that it is comparable only to a 100k SUV like the X6M. The issue is that, i don't need a X6M to go to work and around town with my kids. A 50k SUV performs no differently for my commute and for my tooling around town. Not sure the X6M adds anything. I don't drive over 75mph, and I don't really race people in my SUV, especially when I have my kids in it. I am trying to find out how to justify the cost over a 50k luxury SUV, which is still a super nice SUV. I doubt anyone would call a 50k SUV a piece of junk - they are really nice! But, I would far prefer a tesla since the reviews are so good of the model S, and I read that it is economically favorable, but I can't get my spreadsheet to work it 10k different, it would be pretty easy to justify on emotion. Just need to inch a little closer to that goal.

Is this something that Tesla can help with, if I call them? Are they trained in this sort of analysis or do they have someone who could forward economic information?

Tâm | March 16, 2014

Again, you could make the same case for those who bought a Tesla Roaster that costed nearly $200,000 (with upgrades, base was $110,000).

It sounded crazy that any one would paid that much.

But if you compare it to the one that Paul Walker died in, Porsche Carrera GT that costed more than $400,000,

Then economy makes sense. And the safety makes sense. It has not costed any Tesla driver's life either!

At this stage, we are paying still dearly to subsidize for the next generation.

It makes total sense for people who could afford the Roadster.

It makes total sense for people who could afford the Model S and X.

It may not make sense for people who can afford Model E or below.

Everyone is different and with a different purpose.

And evneryone is born with a mission.

You just need to find which one, which level makes sense for you.

lvaneveld | March 16, 2014

Don't forget you can always get the base model at about $75K and don't forget the $7500 federal tax credit if you are ordering now.

I think the real question for you should be how do you cost justify the loaded $100k model over the base model for $75k. That is little harder.

sambb | March 16, 2014

Tam, good points, but I don't have the kind of money like George Clooney to subsidize the next buyer. I don't do that even for ICE cars. I understand that subsidizing is important, but so is my own retirement and my kids education.

As far as the 75k vs 100k tesla - in the SUVs I am considering, I would like Nav, cold weather packages, tech packages, etc. So the options are comparable. Don't know if I could get that in the base model. Those things matter to me far more than drag race style acceleration - i will be driving with my family, not on a track.

I am starting to lose confidence in there being an economic argument for the model X. I really want to pull the trigger, but there are alot of nice cars at 50k or less, that are still way above what most americans can afford with great luxuries. Sure the model X may be the best, but I don't have the "best" computer or house, etc.

I am hoping someone can come up with the economic data to help. I plan on visiting the Tesla store this week as well, with my computer in hand, so I can try to work it out. There has to be something we are missing to make up the 30k difference after gas.

Tâm | March 17, 2014


"Cheap" is relative.

If you can afford BMW X6M SUV 0-60mph at 4.5 seconds for $93,900 MSRP,

then yes, Model X is a bargain due to its:

1) safety & health
2) low maintenance
3) free Superchargers

I don't think any Tesla staff can convince you that it's cheaper to drive a Model X instead of an Acura.

That's because they are not in the same pricing, not same comparison.

Remember, This is what Elon said:

So, in short, the master plan is:

1. Build sports car

2. Use that money to build an affordable car

3. Use that money to build an even more affordable car

4. While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options

Some are able to do it because they want to, because they are self-driven to.

Tesla has a dedicated group of owners who want to make a difference in this world by bringing EVs to the common people and they are willing to pay big bucks for the effort.

That's why Tesla is successful despite of repeated attacks from all angles: Tea Party, Presidential Candidate, Press Media, Oil industry, Car industry, Car Dealers, Governors of Texas, Arizona and latest-New Jersey.

That's why Jim Cramer, CNBC Mad Money's show, said repeatedly that Tesla is a "cult" stock.

Anyhow, I do understand your position as each of us has a different affordability threshold.

sambb | March 17, 2014

Thanks TAM so much. I am going to go to the store this week to look into this further. I did not realize that there was a large markup for the corporate vision - i guess that makes sense. I am trying to just buy a real nice SUV for a fair price, which is a decent economic choice. For me, that extra money is money to send my child to college or work on my retirement, etc., so I think it is important to justify the cost. I didn't realize that there was a need for that sort of wealth to buy the model x, over a nice suv.

I would really like to get a model X, i just don't want to throw away money that could be spent on my retirement or on my kids education. I was hoping that there was an economic argument that could be made for the purchase, since it is going to be the best SUV. If such extreme wealth is required, and can't be made up with gas savings or incentives or other items, it is something that needs to be considered. I couldn't drive the car happily, if I knew that it was costing my child school loans, etc. I was hoping there could be an argument, and i spent a lot of time looking at the model S on this - teslanomics, etc.

I will report back what they say in the store.

Czech | March 17, 2014

My first question would be how long you typically keep vehicles because if you don’t normally keep vehicles much longer then you pay on the loan then the gas savings don’t matter. Also if you keep the car for 15 years then you are going to be looking at a battery replacement which based on current prices (roughly 40k) eats up all of your gas savings over the last 10-15 years. So the next question is how important is being “Green” if you could care less than enough on that question. If it is very important you have to personally weigh that into the price. Next thing I would say is safety while most SUV’s are very safe compared to the micro cars such as the smart car compared to the Tesla there is no comparison. This is something you also have to weigh into the price. Another thing is maintenance which over the price of the car will save you some money however I would not consider this a selling point because it is not a significant amount when you are talking about 50K difference. Last thing is convenience while most cars in the 50k range have remote start you should not use in a garage. The convenience is only a semi factor since if you were to make a trip you would have to plan for charging a lot more then filling up the tank as of now anyway this could change in 10 years. I hope this helps but I may have just talked you out of it while Tesla makes an amazing car it’s not for everyone. My personal view is I will buy a MX when I am able to but I like the not worrying about gas the awesome acceleration and when I have kids the safety and the fact that I can have kids in one row 2 big dogs in the back and still have room in the frunk for luggage.

Brian H | March 17, 2014

Suggesting a battery replacement in 15 years will cost $40K is just hand-waving. You have no basis for any number that far in the future.

holidayday | March 17, 2014

"I am trying to make the SUV a wise choice as far as affordability."

The Model X will lose if you look at "affordability".

It's better to get a used SUV that costs $20,000 than pay the probable $75,000 for a Model X.

It's likely it will be as safe as the Model S. The safety comes at a premium price.
It's the most technologically advanced car. The technology comes at a premium price.
There is high demand for the vehicle compared to limited supply. This causes the cost to be a premium price.

You will save money on gas, but not nearly save enough to overtake the actual cost of the car plus electricity cost.
The future Gen III / Model E / "Bluestar" will have a much lower projected cost. It will be designed with affordability in mind. Model S and Model X are designed to be premium vehicles at premium prices.

But hey, if you can afford the Model X, you will not be disappointed.

vandacca | March 17, 2014

I agree that the amount of time you expect to own your vehicle plays an important role in this decision. The longer you plan to own a Model X, the more sense it should make. The only big repair cost for a MX is the battery after 7-10 years. With prices of batteries dropping every year and with the creation of the GigaFactory coming on line by 2017, the battery replacement might not be as bad as you think.

Otherwise, for me reliability is very important and the amount of time my vehicle spends in the garage being fixed. Because a Tesla replaces a complex internal combustion engine (ICE) with a very simple and reliable electric motor, there is a whole lot less to go wrong. With a MX, you don't have to deal with:
- tune-ups, spark plugs, etc.
- oil changes, fuel filters, etc.
- replacing exhaust systems
- rust (less chance rust will cause problems on Tesla vehicles, due to a flat, sealed underbody)
- fewer maintenance costs on brakes (due to regenerative braking)

I would expect a 10 year old MX with a new battery pack to be as good as "new". I plan to drive my MX for 20+ years, so if a MX lasts twice as long as the alternative, then you could save the costs of a new vehicle over the life of your MX. If you don't plan to keep a vehicle for that long or you like to change your vehicle every few years, then a MX is definitely not for you unless you have a lot of spare cash laying around.


Boukman | March 17, 2014

If you can afford it, meaning you will not have to strain to make the payments I would say "Go for it!". Many people have raised very valid points that you should consider in making your decision. Savings on gas, maintenance, time, pollution etc...but to me owning an electric car, preferably a Tesla, has certain intangibles that you can't put a price on. That is why I started by saying "if you can afford it". You probably have seen the commercials for a credit card where they finish by saying something like " being able to be at her graduation... priceless!"... I think it is a bit the same thing...

sambb | March 17, 2014

I spent a lot of time speaking with a few owners (my family member is one) and doing a lot of #s today.
In the end, this is a luxury item. It wouldn't really perform any better in my commute or with my kids as far as going around town in luxury compared to other luxury SUVs at half the cost. So one pays for the brand and the environmental savings. The acceleration isn't really a big deal to me - a regular SUV has a fast enough engine, I am not racing the car or anything.

The cost issue is really coming down to miles driven, as very bright people on this forum have stated. It would have to be well over 25k maybe even over 35k per year to come close to making an economic argument. There are no other hidden savings that we haven't thought of. So miles are a big deal, and 12k a year is too low. Need to drive a lot more than that.

The big downside is two issues: 1. You can invest the 50k difference if you go with a cheaper loaded SUV. 2. The depreciation on most 100k cars is just going to be far more than a 50k car. It is hard to numerically account for these, but they can be estimated.

I think there is little doubt that the model x will be the best SUV out there, but the difference (considering investments and depreciation) could pay for one of my children to go to college. I don't know if it is worth it to get a Model X, for that price. It seems like the aim to educate my kids would be more prudent, or even, for the rich, to give that money to charity and make a big impact.

Emotionally, however, I could go for it, but not sure how that tesla grin would work if kids have loans, or retirement is put off. Thats the hardest part of paying for the car.

Considering how people in the world live, even a 50k loaded SUV is nicer than most americans have.
I wonder if the economic argument limits the car to the ~1% type of consumer, who are usually protected from some of the political parties, etc. Of course emotionally there will always be buyers.

I think if margins were lower, it might work out economically. I suppose tesla isn't really an economic argument for the car. That shows how great the car is - people can buy on emotion and not on economy. Really impressive.

After hearing so much about tesla that was positive, I didn't realize that this really isn't an economic choice, but rather an emotional one. That is a big concept that I didn't realize when running all the numbers. I suppose one could say the same about any luxury item - a hotel room in a 5*, a bottle of wine that is $1000, or even a top of the line computer vs a cheaper one.

For now, i guess i have to look at the purchase emotionally if it is going to materialize. Did everyone buy also on emotion, if you are not part of that super wealthy 1%.

Great car and will be a great SUV Im sure.

vandacca | March 17, 2014

Emotion sure is a big part of this type of purchase. But for me technology plays a very important part too. This is the first vehicle that has been redesigned from the ground up to be an electric vehicle. All those other hybrids and pure electric vehicles out there are a "kludge" based on an ICE. Because Tesla redesigned the car from scratch, you get things like a "front trunk", extremely low centre of gravity, stiff frame, sealed underbody, etc. The Model S / X is (in my opinion) the first time the car has seen a major redesign for many decades.


newscutter | March 17, 2014

Rationally, I have done many of the mental exercises as you-- and if I had to put numbers on it, I'd say you can made the argument 85% economically... the rest is definitely emotion.

Fundamentally, the math in my case (similar mileage) works out such that it would be the equivalent of buying a $45k competitor. The big difference comes in whether it is possible to get the same experience in a competing vehicle at that price, which it clearly is not. To get the same performance/design requires spending a similar amount to the Tesla.

Furthermore, at the end of a "typical" ownership period (10-15 years in my case) what will I have left? The competitor vehicle will have degraded performance to be sure with a high likelihood of expensive repairs and/or the full costs of a replacement vehicle. On the Tesla the interior/exterior will also be showing signs of wear-- to be sure!-- but the drivetrain should perform exactly as it did when new, it shouldn't degrade. The battery may indeed need to be replaced but I expect that to be only a slight possibility-- not a guaranteed outcome. More likely, the Tesla becomes the "local" vehicle instead of the "roadtrip" vehicle (which would be newer and/or larger battery). Worst case scenario, the battery replacement (plus a core/trade-in value on the old one) should be somewhere under $10k by my admittedly wild guessing. That expense would net me a vehicle that performs as-new despite it's fading good looks.

So for me, the question isn't whether I can spend less now-- clearly I can. The question is can I amortize the cost of the vehicle over an exceedingly long-term to compensate for my low mileage AND can I "refurbish" its usefulness over an ever longer term. I think that-- provided Tesla remains a viable company-- the answer is clearly YES. I expect in 20 years I would still have a fundamentally useful vehicle either for myself or to pass through to my children.

Like you (implied) I'm not a wealthy 1%er. The resale/depreciation is only an issue if you sell (ditto a stock loss, incidentally) and I don't intend to EVER sell a Tesla that enters my garage. Why bother? Seen that way, it's (potentially) a bargain, a hedged bet.

Brian H | March 17, 2014

One option not mentioned is a 50K car and 50K of TSLA. Trade the car and some (½ ?) of the TSLA when it covers a Tesla MX.

Joseph G. | March 18, 2014


My wife and I also debated whether we should purchase a Model X once it becomes available. In every financial decisions I make, I like to crunch numbers. By just looking at the financial or the cost to own a vehicle, I total the actual costs of owning our 2000 Honda Odyssey, bought brand new.

After 14 years and at 188,000 miles, our total cost is $73,178.46 (Purchase Price, Fuel, and Maintenance). Our mechanic informed us that we are getting close to replace the catalytic converter and transmission; which would cost us another $5,000.00. So, if we ended up on replacing these parts, our total cost would be $78,178.46.

My wife and I like to keep our vehicles long term. If the Model X would cost us $88,000.00, shall we spend an extra $10k for it? For us this would pay for the safety of the Model X and the less hassle from stopping to get gas and maintenance.

By the way, this number does not include the up to $7,500.00 tax credit from the Fed and for us here in California, a $2,500 tax credit. These would alleviate some of the cost to replace the battery if needed. Hope this helps.

Tâm | March 18, 2014


I do disagree with your statement:
"the rich, to give that money to charity and make a big impact."

I believe that is exactly what we are doing when we buy Tesla!

You already acknowledged that buying a Tesla now means you are subsidizing the next generation.

In this case, subsidizing is just another word for giving your money away so your children can afford the future. I am sorry that you do not see this as an act of charity.

And thanks to those who paid a lot, Tesla has made a huge impact! No one has ever suffered a death or serious injury in its vehicle. What is a life worth to you?

It has helped people to realize an alternative to oil.

What you cannot see in the air does not mean it cannot kill.

Did you hear about Carbon Monoxide deaths in even in parked cars?

For example, 2 different couples (that's 4 different people) died in their parked cars just to have sexual relations?

It is fine that you cannot afford to pay for cleaner air, healthier lives, less wars, less deaths, and less destruction.

However, to down play Tesla's mission in order to justify the behavior that necessitate sending the next generation to die for cheap oil for your cars is illogical

sambb | March 18, 2014

Well, I don't plan on having sexual relations in the car - it is for commuting and traveling with my children! I am not worried about carbon monoxide in the least. Corporate US entities has the mission of making money for its shareholders. The best alternative to oil is not buying a car - it is biking, walking, public transport. I am a logical person trying to see how to make this work outside of the 1% of elite americans that purchase these things, and have been protected with deductions, etc. I work hard for a living and have a family to provide for, and I don't see economically how the argument for a tesla can be made without the emotions that go into buying luxury goods. I don't think that giving money to tesla, is in any way, better than saving it for college for my children. I don't shop at Tiffany's or sip wines that cost $1000. I am sure those luxuries are far better than buying a ring at a local jeweler or getting a $12 bottle of wine. But, i am not part of that aristocratic 1% of americans with accumulation of generational wealth. The comments above have been very helpful.

If tesla shareholders have one believing that they are a charity to which to donate, then I am impressed with their marketing. To me, it is a corporation, like others, trying to sell product to a set of consumers. I don't see any registration that they are a charity. I don't think of corporate america as a charity. It is truly strange to me that one could equate donations to charity as the same as giving money to shareholders. Most shareholders I imagine are pretty wealthy, and why would they need money from people outside the 1%? Do tesla owners really see themselves as a charity to which people of less wealth donate? Wow - that is a 1% argument.

Anyway, I don't want to get into a 1% debate. This is america, you can spend your money any way you want. I am trying to just justify the cost of a tesla model X in purely economic terms, and it seems like it is an emotional purchase not an economic one to people in my tax bracket. Believe it or not, there are those of us that have to send our kids to college or save for retirement, and we don't have the same income as others. We also work just as hard, if not harder. We are trying to weigh the extreme cost of a model x as a family car. Having sexual relations safely in a car is not really on the radar for me.

newscutter | March 18, 2014

Joseph G's Honda example is a good followup to my point. As he stated, at 15 years of ownership he has put nearly $80k into his van. For this investment, he now has an asset with a foreseeable end-- after all, few vehicles crest 200k with much usable life left though the determined owner might still be able to double that with good maintenance.

Regardless, it is my expectation that a Tesla at a similar point of ownership will be more easily upgraded (new battery pack?) and more easily maintained long term. All the typical reasons for "retiring" a vehicle don't exist and the performance won't degrade either. Nevermind the unknown fuel costs 15 years from now. We know batteries will be cheaper but how likely is it that fuel will be?

So in my economic math, the Tesla presents and unprecedented possibility of outlasting TWO regular vehicles. While I might choose to pass it down to one of my kids and get a new one for myself-- that's still a usable asset whose "double life" makes it inherently more valuable regardless of how much sex I have in it (that has to be the most ridiculous attempt at persuasion I've ever seen-- avoiding CO poisoning during sex!)

The fact that this big chunk of aluminum will likely allow me to merge on the highway at warp speed and climb our areas prevailing hills without effort is simply a bonus that will make me smile and giggle. To do that without worry of breaking something or wasting gas... well, that is emotional. Lack of guilt, emotional. It bridges the gap for me.

Not replacing a car during college years is compelling too-- I view the Tesla as a "one and done" product (well, 2 and done, eventually). Pay upfront and never buy again unless I WANT to... I should never NEED to. Properly looked after I can't foresee a requirement to replace these vehicles only a desire to, if/when technology warrants-- but not a need to. Your choice. You WILL have to replace anything else, eventually.

Brian H | March 18, 2014


Reasonably well thought out. Here's a tickler for you: this is kind of a 'singularity' point in automobile (and potentially transport) development. Everything is changed and the rate of change is so great that we can't see very far ahead.

LeonardD | March 19, 2014

Back to carbon monoxide.

I like to back my car into my garage. In a parking lot it makes no difference, but in my garage it does. It gets filled with fumes quite rapidly, and it takes a much longer time for those fumes to dissipate than it did to create them. Why do I want to back in? I live on a hill, and it is much safer for to be going forward when I leave the house. Lots of children and people walking dogs and such.

Lastly, the Model X should be as safe as the Model S, which by all accounts is likely the safest car ever built. While not as low to the ground as the Model S, the Model X will still have a very low center of gravity, and no fuel tank filled with highly combustible liquid. Safety is priceless, but it can cost you one way or another.

Boukman | March 19, 2014

Joseph G' did a good job in crunching the numbers for the Honda Odyssey with a total of about $80,000 for 14 years and 188,000 miles. Not bad at all. However I wonder what the REAL cost would be if certain intangibles could be factored in. Cost of:
1) time spent going to and filling up
2) time spent at the mechanic's for service
3) pollution from burning thousand of gallons of gasoline over the 14years plus release of gasoline vapors in the atmosphere
4) contribution to the national deficit and national oil dependency by importing oil to make gasoline
5) sending money outside of the local economy (in 2012 the US spent $433 billion on imported foreign oil)
6) increase in cities noise pollution

I might have stretched it here for these things may or may not be relevant but it would be nice to see if their cost could be accounted for...

Solarwind | March 19, 2014

A Tesla is a investment in your children's future, but you need to go farther in investing. You need to consider at least $10 K more in solar panels, This will prepay all your gas bill for the future plus most of your house energy costs.
If you want to save money by burning gas and investing in oil companies, and don't want prestige, then buy a low end Ford or Chevy van or SUV. Low price, better mileage, lower maintenance cost, and lots of money left for college and stock investing.
I like the others have tried to point out. If people don't step up on the environment you may not need college money. People keep multiplying and we all pollute and we all want the finer things in life. Part of Elon's solution appears to be find a another planet.

holidayday | March 24, 2014

(If you see "assetprotection", I flagged them. They duplicated my response plus included spam links)

Red Sage ca us | March 29, 2014

You make quite a few superb points. I appreciate that you have chosen to look at this decision as fairly, and as logically as possible. This question really stood out for me:

"If the Model X is 100k, how can I make the economics favorable?"

Actually, you can't. Anyone who is admittedly 'on a budget' should not buy this vehicle at that price. You would do better to wait until there is a Tesla Model E Wagon, assuming that ever materializes. If you have the money, buy the lower cost vehicle and invest the rest in your children's education.

Now, I say this because of the things you said before that... Once again, they are really good points:

  • I have no doubt that it will be the best SUV out there. But "best" isn't the only factor for me, economics are a big part of it.
  • Just like I don't live in the best house, nor do I drink the best wines, I have economic limits.
  • I was considering a 50k MDX or infiniti SUV or lexus SUV. Getting a well equipped and luxurious one is pretty easy at that price, and I would be spoiled to think that it wouldn't be adequate, since this is almost twice what the average american pays for a car.
  • I am not a spoiled person, and so I can't justify the cost based on emotions or whiz-bang hardware or falcon doors.
  • I am trying to make the SUV a wise choice as far as affordability.

Dude, that's it, right there. This isn't the car for you. Hey, should you get a windfall... Say, 450-600 thousand dollars you weren't expecting... Then this would be a car you could get and feel no guilt, no remorse, and 'spoil' yourself with, while likely pleasing your family as well. Otherwise, just stay away.

Honestly, the emotional part of it, the speed of it, the excitement of the technology... Those are THE reasons to get a Tesla Model X. If they cannot be arguably your personal BEST reasons to get one -- leave it alone, and settle for your first choice instead.

EVolution | March 30, 2014

Keep in mind you will be paying $30 000 in gas during the lifetime of your next ICE SUV

Keep in my mind you will pay $30 000 in R&D for the Model E if you buy a Model X

The question is: Are you wealthy enough to throw in $20 000 more than another ICE SUV considering the saving you will make in gas to finance the development of a third more affordable generation designed specifically for consumers like you and I?

Tâm | April 14, 2014


Although this experience is specific to Model S, but since the pricing is similar to Model X, you can use the spreadsheet.

Harvard MBA Paul Lee described himself the least-likely person to purchase a Model S due to cost.

However, once he crunched the number, he could not believe that Tesla Model S is cheaper to own than the Honda Odyssey is in 8 years.

He had his math rechecked by various people, and the result is the same.

Brian H | April 16, 2014

Correction, some changes made it about $4-5K more expensive over 8 yrs. to own the S, excluding a few things that are hard to quantify.

LeonardD | April 17, 2014

Well, over 10 years I think the S will win.

carlk | April 21, 2014

Right. Yearly gas saving of $3K~5K may not be enough to cover the difference between ~10K depreciation of an $100K car and ~$5K for a $50K car but in 5 years the EV will come ahead when it's $5K vs $2.5K yearly depreciation. The extra performance, utility and safety MX offers is just a bonus that does not cost you anything.

Tâm | April 22, 2014

SwissEcoTaxis is in the business of making money and it says (in French)

"Its new vehicle, the seventh of its fleet, it has cost some 100,000 fr . purchase and should show an operating cost five times less than a traditional car."

Neplyte | May 11, 2014


You can use this website from US Dept. of Energy to estimate the total cost of ownership over the estimated length of time you think you would drive the modelX by using the 2013 Model S instead.

I ran a comparison between Model S 60KWH ($69,900) with a Lexus RX450h ($47,810). At 15 years, The total cost of ownership came out the close with the Model S at close to $110,000 and Lexus RX450h at $100,000. However they used an assumption that Model S yearly operating cost would be $2714. I think this is WAY too high. Aside from renewing your state vehicle registration, state safety sticker and annualizing cost of tire and brake pad replacements every 40,000 miles, what maintenance costs would there be? You don't have oil changes with an electric car. The battery is supposed to last 200,000 miles before it may need to be changed (though no one really knows, I guess). If the US. Dept. of Energy website overestimated the annual operating costs, then it's possible over 15 years that Model S/X total cost of ownership may be equivalent or better than much lower priced cars priced close to $50K.

ALso factor in market value at the end of 15 years on the used car market, though this is very difficult to predict as we don't know what competition in the EV market will look like in 2030. I would hazard a guess that Tesla cars will factor in much more favorably than ICE or ICE/hybrid cars if the cost of gas is high at that time.

I wonder why you started with $100,000 price? When I asked two Tesla representatives (one at a car show, one on the phone) they both said the Model X will cost about the same as a Model S, probably slightly more. So if the Model S 60 kW goes for $70,000, are you planning to buy the Performance model?

Achilz | May 13, 2014

While I appreciate all the arguments about the non-monetary benefits of owning a Tesla, I think the bottom line is that comparing a $100k Tesla a $50k Infiniti or Acura is not apples to apples. I can't come up with a true economic rationale for the Model X versus the Acura MDX any more than I could you justify buying a BMW X5 versus an Accura MDX. Why not? Because the X5 is going to run you about $75k. And, by the way, the MDX starts at the price of a fully-loaded Hundai Santa Fe. So, if we're talking purely economics, then Acura isn't exaclty the right place to start. The reality is, you can't step up in luxury and then justify it as the frugal thing to do.

If you want to do a real comparison, consider that the Tesla Model X will blow away any Acura or Infiti (or any Lexus, BMW or Mercedes) in terms of speed, handling and storage capacity. And cooness factor? fuggedaboudit. The current Tesla Model S doesn't even compete with a run of the mill BMW; it competes with the Porsche Panamera, Maseratti Quattroporte, BMW M5 and Mercedes AMG. Price-wise, the Tesla Model S compares very favorably to those ultra-luxury cars both in terms of purchase price and operating cost.

Admittedly, this isn't going to win over those who want to buy an EV because it's the frugal thing to do. While the "feel good" arguments about saving the planet, keeping your kids safe, reducing dependance on oil, etc., are all true, if you can't don't want to spend $100k on a car then these things aren't going to help when you write the check.

If you really don't want to spend $100k on a car, for whatever reason, then get a nice efficient ICE and wait for the Tesla Gen III. Unfortunately, if you do that, then I can't solve the problem of the crushing disappointment you will feel every time you see a Model S on the road. Because, if you're posting here, then you, like me, are smitten. You probably dream about that Model S performance, the awesome touch screen, the beautiful lines of the Model S--heck, even the frunk. I know, I know, I've been there. I convinced my 74-year old Dad to get a Model S and he is in love. He says it's the best car he's ever had (and he's had a lot). And, here I am waiting for the endlessly delayed Model X.

So, get over it and pull the trigger already. Misery loves company. It will be the best decision you ever made!

vandacca | May 13, 2014

A Tesla can be considered a frugal choice if you consider these facts:
- You are paying more upfront, but less long term due to less maintenance costs, less fuel costs, Supercharger network, etc.
- A Tesla will likely last twice as long as a typical ICE vehicle, so you could drive a Tesla the same length of time you would go through 2 ICE vehicles.

At some point of owning a Tesla, it will become cheaper than owning an ICE vehicle. I've seen various estimates (depends on miles driven) from 5 years to 9 years. You're just paying more up front.


elguapo | May 16, 2014

This analysis has been done 1,000 times for the Model S. I threw the numbers out the window after looking at it 10 different ways for my MS.

You cannot justify the cost of the car versus a similar ICE (I know, there's no "similar" ICE)simply by looking at these numbers. Run the numbers any way you'd like but no one knows what long term costs will be for the MS or MX.

If you want the MX, get it if you can afford it, but don't try to justify it with cost or by comparing it to other cars.

vandacca | May 16, 2014

Unfortunately, the idea that "the total cost of ownership for a Tesla is going to be lower than an ICE vehicle" is all theory and very dependent on an individual's circumstances (e.g. number of miles driven, cost of electricity, proximity to a super-charger, number of years owned, etc.).

I've recorded every single cent spent on my ICE vehicle (repairs, gas, maintenance, insurance, etc.) since I purchased it new in 1998. I will total that up when I get my Model X and start my calculations over again. I'm looking at about $96,000 so far. I'm confident that my total cost of ownership will be equivalent or better than an equivalent ICE vehicle, and that's even before I factor in my time wasted at gas stations, getting my vehicle fixed, the increase in gas prices and the lighter footprint on the environment. I tend to drive my vehicle for as long as possible, but if one likes to switch vehicles every 5 years, then there is no way a Tesla is going to be cheaper than owning an ICE vehicle.

I'll get back to you @elguapo.


aljjr2 | May 16, 2014

As an early adopter, it is challenging to make the economic case. All the replies give you all the tools your need to get to the financial conclusion.

I too was torn between the Tesla X (reserved) and my next SUV as a replacement for my Audi Q7. I could barely close the equation assuming the fully loaded Q7 would be nearly $80 K.

In the last few weeks, I saw the new updated info on Climate change -- it noted that since the last report five years ago, the rate of change is more than 50 Times as fast as previously thought. Then the message that Climate impact are already occurring -- droughts and more severe weather, not to mention that the acid levels in the oceans (CO2 collectors) is causing shell fish shells to melt away. Finally the latest report by NASA this week that the Antarctica Ice shelf is melting and may be irreversible from the effects of climate change (this will not only be catastrophic to ocean rise, but it the life cycle of the oceans for deep ocean currents which triggers a host of events that sustain all ocean life.

These, and other effects of climate change facts took me away from any economic equation, it is now becoming a moral imperative -- for my children and grand children to do what I can.
So I will find a way to cover the difference, to do my small part to save the quality of the environment.

I hope you too will find the means to do so, of what ever you decide for your SUV, it will be based to a large part on the Carbon Footprint.

Brian H | May 16, 2014

Those climate change reports are pure political hooey. Not a word is supported or even rational. Forget them. And the bigger your carbon footprint, the better for life on the planet.

Roamer@AZ USA | May 17, 2014

Brian. We agree again. But I do like to breathe so the Tesla works for me. Saving all mankind is just to big of a job. Cleaner air in dense urban environments, that's possible.

Roamer@AZ USA | May 17, 2014

Sambb, I could not possibly add any value to the immense financial analysis that has been provided here. I will just say we drive two model S Tesla's and have three model X reserved. When the X's come cars will pass around in the family as some are good with a sedan and some need the SUV room. My wife and I will likely have an X and a P85+ when the dust settles.

The math is close at the current prices so it just comes down to the fact we enjoy driving the Tesla's more than any car we have ever owned. We laughed the other day that we probably go places and do things we might have skipped in the past just because it is so guilt free and effortless to drive the Model S.

melfont | May 17, 2014

I have to agree with @Achilz and @elguapo. If you are concerned about the difference in price for two very different vehicles, the Model X is probably not for you. The Tesla cars are things that just call out to you if you are on the same wavelength. I am number 134 on the list for a Model X, but when they pushed it back a year, I jumped at a chance to get a Model S last summer. I picked up mt multi coat red Model S at the factory last August and have not had a second thought about the cost or try to justify the savings in fuel. I am satisfied with the fact that I am not contributing to global warming and, hopefully, keeping us out of any more mid-east turmoil. The greatest joy is everytime I get behind the wheel. I've owned BMWs, Corvettes, and have driven Aston Martins and Ferraris. While they were fun at the time, the continuos pleasure of driving the Model S never ceases to amaze me. I'll decide in 2016 whether to swap the Model S for the Model X and am looking forward to the future roadster. In any event, I'll never be without a Tesla, but that's just me.

ronmerkord | May 17, 2014

aljjr2, I agree completely. The science is quite clear, and buying an EV like a Tesla is becoming more and more of a moral imperative.

One must factor in that your children and grandchildren will thank you for being an early adopter. It is not all about money.

SigX #1015

proven | May 18, 2014

There really isn't a strong economic argument for buying a Tesla yet if you are comparing it to a $50k SUV. Despite spending a lot less on maintenance & fuel it's still an expensive car. Sure you can tweak the numbers to make it economically better in 10-15 years, but there's a lot of speculation.

If I were in your position and I needed a new SUV now but really wanted an electric car, I would probably spend even less on a non-luxury SUV for now and wait to see what comes out in five years that is more affordable.

There are other ways to help the environment now that would cost you less. One example: Solar Panels on your home. The Federal and State incentives are even better than for an EV. And if the install is designed correctly you can make up for the cost of in a relatively short time. Another benefit (at least where I live) is that with solar panels I can get on a variable rate program and charging my EV at night will only cost $0.05 per kilowatt hour.

Red Sage ca us | May 19, 2014

Apparently it is possible to spend a whole lot less on a decent crossover than you would on a Tesla Model X (or Porsche Cayenne).

Buick Encore

Hyundai Santa Fe

Kia Sorrento


Remember, the Model X is a crossover -- not an SUV.

KWTESLA | May 24, 2014

Try this one "Try it you will like it" . I Love my S my wife is crazy about the X . We may be getting one soon .