Want to buy Model S, but help me justify cost over a brand new Mercedes CLA for half price

Want to buy Model S, but help me justify cost over a brand new Mercedes CLA for half price

Am new here so am sorry if this kind of topic has been posted before.

But i need to decide in the next 2 weeks before i take ownership of my new CLA thats coming in.

I'm in Canada, so here is breakdown:

85kwh Model S coming in at 90k, less government rebate of 8500.

CLA, also a very nice looking new model car, after taxes with all options i need at 45k.

Even if i take annual gas savings into account, after 6 years mercedes still far cheaper option.

Please tell me something that i havent considered that will push the decision towards the Tesla.

How much is the hassle to plug in and plug out everytime you step into garage?

How long do you think one can realistally expect to drive the Model before it wears out?

No supoercharger stations in canada, how long before that could really benefit toronto area?

I so want it, but my heart and my mind dont agree right now.

SamO | September 5, 2013

The Tesla Model S will have a comparable cost to a CLA after 7-10 years of TCO. That's just on fuel. If you ever need service on the Mercedes then you'll likely see the savings accrue toward Tesla ownership.

Oil changes (not for 3 years)
Smog Check
catalytic converter
100's of buttons, knobs and moving interior parts

Plus the Tesla MS is way more fun to drive. It's faster than anything but the most ultra of ultra-performance cars (think Ferrari, Lambo, Carrera etc) and costs ~$0.05/mile.

The more miles you drive, the cheaper it becomes compared to an ICE car.

If you swap one or two flights per year for drives, then the savings really pile up.

But it is a lifestyle choice. Driving a plain jane Merc vs. driving the most cutting edge vehicle in the world.

SUN 2 DRV | September 5, 2013 will help you search the forums for prior discussions.

If you want the most financially prudent move, look towards a Civic or Corolla.

If you want to follow your heart, participate in the beginning of a revolution, get a car with tremendous performance, and help make the world a better place for future generations look towards a Tesla.

No good reason I can think of to get a CLA. :-)

RZippel | September 5, 2013

The CLA is 30cm shorter, 20cm narrower with half the trunc/frunc size and at comparable drive train (you need the AMG then) not half the price but closer. I think you don't compare the right cars. You need to look at the AMG E-Class and ask yourself again.

TikiMan | September 5, 2013

I agree with RZ, the CLA is not comparable to the MS. You need to look at CL63 AMG to really compaire. If you want a high-performance for door sudan, with off the hook technology, the MS is your #1 choice.

AmpedRealtor | September 5, 2013

Comparing Model S to CLA is not a good comparison because the Model S is a different class of vehicle than CLA. It weighs 40% more and costs twice as much, it's also a 4-door sedan and not a coupe. A better comparison would be with an E-class sedan (4,400 lbs and 0-60 similar to Model S). When you are comparing vehicles that are closer in weight and performance, the scales more easily tip to the Tesla's favor.

No offense, but I could also compare the $90,000 Model S to a Toyota Camry and find it difficult to justify the cost of Model S. It depends what you compare it to. You want an apples-to-apples comparison. You are comparing an apple to a cranberry.

fluxemag | September 5, 2013

I don't hate the CLA. The dash is clumsy though. And for $45k that means you'd have the non-AMG 4 banger. The performance of the Tesla combined with the freakish efficiency is what sold me on it.

AmpedRealtor | September 5, 2013

One more thing... In my opinion half the thrill of owning Model S is caring about the fact that it's electric and wanting to support a company whose goal is to change transportation to run on sustainable energy. If those things don't matter and you simply want the car that represents the lowest cost of ownership, you should probably not even get a Mercedes, but instead opt for a Toyota or Nissan. I'm sure if you compare the CLA to a Corolla, you'd have a difficult time justifying the CLA's cost.

The other factor to consider is how far you drive. Without superchargers, you will be restricted to rather long recharge times from the most common outlets. At 240v/40A (NEMA 14-50) connection, which is what many Model S owners decided to install, gets you 30 miles of range per hour of charge. That's fine if you are charging overnight, but filling half your battery at this rate to get a 130 mile charge will cost you a 4 hour stopover. Tesla's 265 mile rated range number also presumes a 100% "max charge". Doing this on a regular basis may result in premature battery degradation, as Tesla puts up a warning screen when you do a max charge. A more realistic range number would be around 230-240 miles (90% charge), which represents Tesla's "standard" charge setting.

jonlivesay | September 5, 2013

Three times the car only twice the money, bargain to buy Tesla. Clean garage, clean air, mad acceleration, beautiful car, NO MORE GAS!! Oh and forgot a out the super chargers!

exPGAhacker | September 5, 2013

"How much is the hassle to plug in and plug out everytime you step into garage?"

It's a HUGE hassle. I have to get out of the car (which I usually do at some point when I get home), take 3 steps to grab the charging cord and plug it in. Wait, I forgot that I have to hit the top of the plug in handle on the cord to pop open the charge port on the car.

It was actually 10 times more of a hassle to type this sarcastic response back to you!

Get the Tesla and enjoy the heck out of running a simple errand even after 7 months of ownership (got mine in late January) and 9,000 miles or get the MB and be bored with it about 4 days after you drive it off the dealer lot.

leon.gelernter | September 5, 2013

I also considered the CLA. No comparison here. CLA: nice average car. Model S: A dream come true.

timmsteiner | September 5, 2013

Did you bother to test drive both? Since you are asking such a silly question, my guess is no.

cmaso | September 5, 2013

You are exactly where I was at the end of last year (I took ownership in June of this year). You have to do the math and accept some of the uncertainties that nobody knows right now.

Use to search forum, I have a post from late Aug. that outlines the TCO and what a comparable price would be for an ICE over the first 125k miles. Much less than $45k.

Best of luck!!!

Bane | September 5, 2013

you get killed on the mercedes service. I am in Vancouver BC. I had a small c class mercedes for many years and now am in an Model S. I was even getting my mercedes serviced at a mechanic to save money and that still wasnt cutting it. Go for the S, you will save money on gas, servicing and brakes. Let us know what you decide when it is time to buy

AmpedRealtor | September 5, 2013

"Get the Tesla and enjoy the heck out of running a simple errand..."

^^ this ^^

cfOH | September 5, 2013

I actually had a pre-order in place on the AMG 45 (the white-hot AWD version of the CLA series) and cancelled it after driving a Model S. And not even the Performance model, just the regular S60.

Justifying it purely on what you spend may be tough. But then, if that's your metric, you'll be better off with a Chevy Spark or a Honda Fit.

The Model S is revolutionary. And better for clean air. And interesting. The CLA is the lowest-end Mercedes. They're on opposite ends of the car food chain, IMO.

JAFIC | September 5, 2013

You want reasons ?


Do you value your life ?
In a model S , you can WALK away from a headon, t-bone.

Do you value practicality ?
You can fit a very large item in the boot and some more in the frunk.

Do you value your lung ?
Tony Hawk did it while skateboarding behind the vehicle. I like you to do that with the Mercedes.

All said, the Model S is a family sedan with Demi Supercar performance. It just happens to be electric.

tes-s | September 5, 2013

The CLA is half the price of the MS. I'm sure there are plenty of cars that are half the price of the CLA. All will get you from point A to point B.

You are the only one that can decide which is best for you.

LMB | September 5, 2013

Hm, the hassle to plug in... let me think. Would I prefer to go on having to drive to a special place to fuel (what do you mean I need to leave my home to fuel my car??), and do I mind having to just stand there for fifteen minutes while I'm fueling, whatever the weather? (why can't I just plug in and walk away? Sheesh....)

We are so conditioned, we can't even see what an unbelievable hassle gasoline is. The definition of hassle-free fueling has to be that it happens while you sleep. Do yourself a favor.

Nu2Ecar | September 5, 2013


I attempted to compare costs of the Tesla S with an ICE of half the cost. That's about the cost of any new ICe I'm likely to buy. I'm not the type to spend $80K after rebate, before sales tax on an ICE. There's a difference between what I can afford and what I can justify to myself

Those who tell you that you'll save anywhere near $40K are kidding themselves. Running costs are small part of the expense of owning either a Mercedes or a Tesla. But Tesla gives great performance and leaves you feeling good about it.

For long distance travel, it will be a long time before charging comes close to gassing up in terms of convenience. It's already OK for driving from San Diego to Seattle, but not so much when you get to your destination. For superchargers, you'll be dependent on at most one or two stations in your own locale. I don't know about you, but I hate to turn left into a gas station. Driving across town to plug into a charger does not appeal to me.

Yet, the Tesla works for me. I fly a small airplane and rarely drive out of town any distance. If I do, I'm likely to be travelling with GF and we can use her ICE. If she's not coming, then she'll be happy to swap cars for my trip! In the last resort, renting is easy and simple.

mclary | September 5, 2013

Get the CLA. If you have to ask then you probably wouldn't appreciate the Model S.

mrspaghetti | September 5, 2013

At least test drive each car. I think you'll agree they're not comparable.

roadking40 | September 5, 2013

Buy the Merc. You don't get it. It's not about "half" the price. Only you can decide. The sad thing is, when your sitting at the stoplight, the S owner won't even see you drooling over their ride.

Blueshift | September 5, 2013

"Please tell me something that I haven't considered that will push the decision towards the Tesla."

Don't know if this type of thing has any weight with you:

"Total combustion emissions in the U.S. account for about 200,000 premature deaths per year in the U.S. due to changes in particulate matter concentrations."

Source: MIT publication in November 2013 Atmospheric Environment:

A summary:

"Steven Barrett, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT says that a person who dies from an air pollution-related cause typically dies about a decade earlier than he or she otherwise might have. His data also indicated that the biggest killers were, of course, cars and trucks, with 53,000 early deaths per year attributed to tailpipe emissions."


SamO | September 5, 2013

Go prepay 5 years of fuel costs and then try and tell me that it doesn't matter in TCO. You are deluded OP.


Cindy I II III | September 5, 2013

I agree with mclary, if you need to ask the question, you should buy a CLA.

When I was very young, I asked my dad:" Don't I ride my bike well?" He said: " the fact that you are asking the question, means that you don't." Same here.

If you haven't done test drive, doing so will help. If you have done test drive and still have the question, then do not get a MS.

If you see the value (I.e. performance, safety, the driving experience) of MS = the value of a CLA , get a CLA for sure.

jbunn | September 5, 2013


The fact that you could ask the question means that you ride well enough to still be coherent. ; ]

Brian H | September 5, 2013

There will be superchargers on the 401 and QEW in a few months/couple of years. Check the SuperCharger map.

Look over .

Cindy I II III | September 6, 2013

Arithmetically speaking,
Base - fed tax credit = 63,570
No state tax (NJ = 7%) = 63,570/1.07= 59,411
Minus 120k mile gas-electricity average savings = 59,411-20,727= 38,684

Before consideration of maintainance difference, a base MS cost of ownership is comparable to a vehicle with $38,684 price in NJ. For states with higher taxes, if you use solar, if gas price is above $3.80, the number will be lower, and vice versa

SamO | September 6, 2013

Thanks Cindy! Why is this so hard for "some" people to understand math.

fusiondave | September 6, 2013

If you haven't driven the Modle S, you can't make the comparison. You'll be a convert once you've driven it! Yes, Tesla is twice the money, but it offers so much more... It's a car of the future that you can own today! It has performance, handling, and style that no ther ICE cars in the price range can match.

c.bussert67 | September 6, 2013

Think HEMI 'cuda, Cobra Jet mustang, Big block SS Camaro...
They don't cost anything to own, because you will sell them for more money later. This is how I see the S. The wasted money is what gets spent on a depreciating ICE.
oh, and what jonlivesay said...

Dreamknightmanga | September 6, 2013

Just never having to step foot in a gas station is enough for me.

nsbharath | September 6, 2013

I have done a similar analysis and any ICE car that costs $45k and above does not match up to Model S if we take financing the car and repayment in 60 months. If you are putting down all cash, that is a totally different thing.
Any ICE car which costs $ 45k would have a monthly payment of $700 atleast. Add another $200 differential towards gas cost per month (Assuming 12000 miles). The bare minimum monthly cost to run an ICE is close to $1000. Tesla MS (60 kwh) would cost around $1200 a month to own (over 63 months approx). Net net, it is does cost $200 more to own a Tesla MS (60 kwh) over a bare minimum luxury coupe (in this case your Merc CLA). BTW MS is a sedan and your right comparison should be Merc E and if Merc Class E is what you compare against, Tesla MS is a clear winner (even the 85 Kwh version).

I have not even come to driving experience part, well it is a shame to compare the driving experience of MS with any vehicle. The other day, my wife test drove a BMW (we had test driven a Tesla MS earlier and booked it but just to be sure we wanted to test other luxury sedans). After the first time we pressed the accelerator, we simply gave up on ICEs. IMHO Tesla MS is a game changer. You simply cannot let go once you have test driven it.

Sanjuro88 | September 6, 2013

Safest car exists on the road... 5.4 out of 5 test score.

Isn't that enough reason?

soma | September 6, 2013

Look, a lot of people here seem to have some fixation on proving that the Tesla is financially comparable or even better than an ICE. That's just not the case, and please stop trying to convince people of something that they will never realize.

First of all, don't artificially inflate the alternative vehicle to be the top of the line $70,000 Mercedes to make the cars comparable. That's not what people, even the OP, are seriously considering as the alternative..

Secondly, people like Samo have ridiculous assumptions about the cost of maintenance, how many miles you drive, etc. If you're driving 20,000 miles per year in a rusting pickup truck that needs a new transmission every 3 years, then believe him. I notice he didn't include the cost of installing the charging point in the home? I guess only ICE costs count, huh?

Otherwise, take a more reasonable person who drives 12,000 or so miles a year in an average high end sedan, pays about average for gas (and electricity), would service his/her car once a year (Tesla), or every 5000 miles (for the ICE), and has other major services every few years.

The ICE of up to $50,000 purchase price is still tens of thousands of dollars (like $25,000) cheaper in TCO than the Tesla 85kwh, unless you plan to drive it 30 years. It will not come ahead given the present conditions.

So let's not fool people that this car beats ICEs on the economics. And don't deceive yourself -- you are the easiest person for you to fool. *I* want it because it's amazing, and cool to drive. Maybe in the future it will be comparable, but not soon. So I know I'm not going to come out ahead in terms of money on this deal, but it's worth it.

If enough people complain, I can put up an Excel model so you can see for yourself, but I hope at least these ideas make sense to you.

LMB | September 6, 2013

@soma Absolutely right.

So I have spent a lot of extra money on this car, two and a half times what I've ever spent before, and I spent it in order to subsidize the R&D that's going to turn this technology into a mass consumer commodity.

I am voting with my dollars. I never expected it to save me money. Just the planet.

Dramsey | September 6, 2013

"Total combustion emissions in the U.S. account for about 200,000 premature deaths per year in the U.S. due to changes in particulate matter concentrations."

Source: MIT publication in November 2013 Atmospheric Environment:

Yeah, the thing is, it will cost me over $35 to read that article. And the summary provided in is maddeningly incomplete. What is the proximate cause of the deaths (cancer, emphysema, COPD?) What do the color scales on the graphs mean? How can California, with the highest number of cars per person in the country, show as having virtually no emissions on said graphs?

And so forth.

I'm also slightly suspicious that "an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics" is being quoted, since neither specialty has anything to do with the environment. On the other hand, it's better than some bloviating politician with no scientific training at all...

OK, sorry for drifting off-topic. Get the Model S. You'll be glad you did. If you go for the CLA, at least get the AMG version.

Dramsey | September 6, 2013

I never expected it to save me money. Just the planet.

If you are seriously interested in saving the planet, buying a Mod S is about 493rd on the list of effective things you could do.

OK, maybe 23rd. But it's nowhere near the top.

Buy it to make a statement. Buy it to enjoy the amazing driving experience. Buy it because you're a techie and think it's insanely cool.

But your $100K (or whatever) electric toy isn't going to do much to save the planet. Tesla as a whole, in several decades? Maybe.

Bob W | September 6, 2013

Did you consider also that in parts of Canada you can use the HOV lanes as a solo driver in the Tesla, but not the Mercedes? See

"Who can use HOV lanes?

Vehicles with a special green licence plate (plug-in hybrid electric or battery electric vehicle)"

Depending on where you live and where you drive, the Tesla could save you a ton of time avoiding traffic.

Bob W | September 6, 2013

More Ontario EV incentives listed here.

But maybe there are similar programs in other provinces if you don't live in Ontario.

Cattledog | September 6, 2013

Kaboom - Took our BMW in today for some repairs, ground my teeth for every one of the $1,900 that cost. Spent close to $90,000 for the Model S 8 months ago, haven't regretted 1 cent.

Let the right side of your brain win this one...

SamO | September 6, 2013


Perhaps you should examine your foolish assumptions.

I talked to my accountant that is performing an audit today and it took her exactly 15 seconds to figure out that her $40,000 car would cost more over 10 years than my Model S.

I and many others don't need to install fancy charging at our house. 20mph on a 20amp circuit is plenty fast. Combined with Supercharging, charging at work and charging in the wild, results in $2-4,000 in savings for virtually everyone.

I'm not comparing the 85P+, I'm discussing a S60 which is what I drive.

I can only explain it with small words, I can't help you understand it.

soma | September 6, 2013

God, how are you so dense. The average person doesn't drive 20,000 miles like you do per year, and isn't replacing their transmission 3 times in 10 years. They're not driving by the Supercharger on every trip or getting their electricity for free.

Go, go ahead, use the spreadsheet I just posted on another thread, and show us how your Tesla comes out cheaper than the average $40,000 sedan, that people are thinking of as the alternative.

Please come back and tell us what assumptions you had to make to get it to come out even. So that everyone can reproduce your far fetched economics.

Then we'll see who can't understand it.

Koz | September 6, 2013

Why is it so hard for some folks to understand that it is a long time before a car that costs twice as much as another and has significantly lower operating costs is anywhere close in value to cheaper car. You don't have to cover the initial cost differential with running cost savings but rather the depriated value differential plus the cost of money.

NICE | September 6, 2013

Get what suits you best.
If the Model S is out of your price range, don't get it.
If you can afford the Model S, definitely get it.

SamO | September 7, 2013


Why are you so afraid to look at how much owning an ICE costs:

Here is Edmund's TCO for a 2013 C-Class (2014 CLA not available)

5 Year Costs (in pertinent part)

Fuel - $13,283
Maintenence - $8700
Repairs - $9326

Total - $31,309

Now please refute with some "fact" instead of ad hominem attack.

A $41,000 C-Class costs on average $6261.80/year to fuel, repair and maintain.

Over 10 years (assuming costs don't rise) that same C-Class costs $62,618 to operate.

Kaboom | September 7, 2013

Wow!! Looks like i came to the right place. Lots of great replies, each with their own range of opinions and thoughts on both sides of the fence.

Soma, just like you, i made quite a spreadsheet comparing the various options. And i agree with you, I am comparing the CLA not because i like it more than the MS, but because at some point one must consider the cost point. Unless you are in the top 0.5%, everyone here has a cost point where one alternative tilts the scale. Its not enough to just say its a better car and more efficient and cool, so plunk an extra tens of thousands of dollars on it......even IF i could technically afford it.

And comparing my purchase of the MS to what some here feel should be the Mercedes Model E or S, or BMW 7 or 6 series, doesnt work for me because i would never buy one of those level ICE alternatives. Between those its obvious......get the MS.

However, lets cut to the chase. I have scheduled my second test drive today for the MS.

In my spreadsheet, i calculated TCO over 6 years, and taking residual values at that time into account (I assessed my $90k MS I would be getting at about $43k residual vaue after 6 years),

my TCO for the MS would come in around $11k more than the CLA.

However, i think that if one were to stretch that out to 8 or 9 years, that figure would get smaller and smaller, And not to mention that non-monetary benefits like its a much nicer car, much greener, much more space which is important for me as i have kids and we go skiing, and all the cool toys it has on the inside.................

All in all I do think that it makes more sense, both from a long term fiscal view, as well as a environment sense to get the MS. Seems absurd considering the cost it twice as much up front, but its starting to make long as i plan to drive it at least 7 years +

Kaboom | September 7, 2013


those mercedes figures seem VERY high. Don't get me wrong, anything that can justify me towards the MS more i like.....but i think the 5 year fuel, maintenace and repairs add up to about $24k, not $31k.

Even then, seems quite high.

The Mercedes guy told me firs three years only oil changes once, and no major servicing. Where are these high figures coming from?

Can any previous mercedes owners validate these numbers?

HenryT2 | September 7, 2013

An S60 wouldn't take care of your daily driving needs? You could use another car a few times a year for long drives. Unless you have frequent 200 mile + trips, the 60 should handle 99% of your driving needs. That would be a far more economical comparison.

I bought an S40. Even then, I couldn't justify the cost entirely. But the value of being part of "the revolution" couldn't be quantified. One of the best investments I ever made. I'm sure my wife would agree with me. From a guy who hated driving, I'm now the guy who has no problem running out to the market to get milk when she wants. How much is that worth?

You are comparing apples and oranges. You are saying it only costs me $0.50 for a newspaper I read for an hour and a half vs. going to the movies which costs me $10. By that calculation, you are FAR better off with a Honda Fit or maybe a bicycle.

cfOH | September 7, 2013

@Dramsey: No, my one Model S won't save the planet.

But, my one Model S, purchased instead of a gasoline car, is money going into a company that is trying very hard to ignite (pun intended) the change from fossil fuels to electricity for personal transportation. And that's a cause I can support.

As someone very wise once said, Be the change you want to see in the world.

To which, I might add, "because if you don't, you can't expect anyone else to."