Cost of ownership

Cost of ownership

I am curious to the expected numbers on the Tesla Model S on repairs?(what owners expect)

1 How long do owners expect the motor to last? Tesla told me 30-40 yrs which seems reasonable. (what electric motor ever wears out?)
2 Brake life? How long do you expect the pads and rotors to last with regenerative braking.
3 What do owners expect out of the battery and any guess what you think you will pay to replace it.

How will repairs stack up to and ICE car? What will be more costly on the electric? I am doing the numbers on the Tesla vs. a VW Passat TDI. I want the heart side of me knowing what the expected difference to be. | 5 augustus 2013

I bought the 8 year service plan at 475.00 per year. Summer/Winter wheel changes are included in that.
I have no worries about the battery needing replaced or degrading quickly, Tesla seems to have that covered.
The electric motor will outlast me (at age 55)

I will be very surprised when my brake pads need to be replaced-- they are rarely used. I will go through tires more quickly, other than that I see an ICE as being far more expensive to maintain & repair (short & long run).

Thrak | 5 augustus 2013

I tried as best I could to calculate the ICE specific maintenance costs (oil/filter change, spark plugs, etc... but not things like tires) on my old car to the Model S, and for me savings is about 50%. My Prius was around $1000 per year in that kind of maintenance, and the Tesla is $475 I assume, although I have not yet signed up for a service plan.

Olof | 5 augustus 2013

Totally unfair to compare Model S to a Passat.

You need to compare it with a BMW 750 which is more similar in size, performance and comfort.

Olof | 5 augustus 2013

Comparing model s to Passat is like comparing rolls Royce to Mini Cooper to evaluate if RWD or FWD is more economical

jbunn | 5 augustus 2013

6500 miles, total fuel cost about $140.00

Volleyguy | 6 augustus 2013

Sorry I am not trying to get into which is better debate more of cost of ownership. I owned a 124 Mercedes and it was crazy well built and the cheapest car to own I ever had. I don't think everyone here is thinking Model S should only be compared to a 7 series. I bet many MS owners were not even thinking high luxury car.

Is everyone thinking very low cost of maintainence?

yodasminion | 7 augustus 2013

When you factor in the cost of gas, you need to add at least $3500/year to the cost of the ICE; mine is closer to $5,000, and I drive a Civic. When you look at it that way, my $20K Civic isn't nearly as cheap after 7-8 years of ownership as I originally thought it would be, and that's just the gas.

Now, add oil changes, tune ups, brakes (I've done them once in the last couple years), etc. the "high" cost of the Tesla starts to be comparable to an Accord, or even cheaper, if you keep the car for 7-8 years. Keep it longer and the Tesla starts being in Civic territory. Yes, a sporty loaded Civic maybe, but a Civic nonetheless.

Yes, the payments are higher than a VW, but when you start talking total cost, it's likely the same or lower.

Captain Ducman | 7 augustus 2013

"Now, add oil changes, tune ups, brakes (I've done them once in the last couple years), etc. the "high" cost of the Tesla starts to be comparable to an Accord, or even cheaper, if you keep the car for 7-8 years. Keep it longer and the Tesla starts being in Civic territory. Yes, a sporty loaded Civic maybe, but a Civic nonetheless.

Yes, the payments are higher than a VW, but when you start talking total cost, it's likely the same or lower."

That is exactly how I did the math. Once you get past the 'purchase price' and compare true cost of ownership year over year, its easy to see. I would rather put my money all into the car and none into consumables like gas/oil changes. My insurance also went down from my Rover.

Dwdnjck@ca | 7 augustus 2013

Time Of Use rates in San Diego save me about $200/ month in spite of extra energy used to charge my S. That is enough to pay for service,washes for the car and pedicures for me.

Brian H | 7 augustus 2013

check out for lots more calcs along those lines. He asks, "Can you afford NOT to buy a Tesla Model S?"

eddiemoy | 7 augustus 2013

motor is commercial grade proven to last over 2 million miles.

how long will it take for you to drive that many miles? 136 years if you drive 40 miles a day!!!

madbuns | 7 augustus 2013

I am happy to see that I wasn't the only (soon-to-be-new) Tesla owner that made his decision largely through economics (but, let's be fair, the quality of time spent is a pretty darn good motivator if not responsible for tangible value).

I drive in the 35,000 to 40,000 mile range for my commute and family trips. The gas savings (net of electricity cost) amounts to an annuity of between $4,500 and $6,000 (I currently drive a Rogue SL/AWD which gets 29-30 MPG highway, which are most of my miles). At a planned return of 6% (I am fairly conservative with regard to my retirement yield), the savings creates a 10-year asset with a present value of between $33,000 ($33M) and $44M, If we use $90M as the basis (I chose an 85 with a few of the few options - pre-Aug13 price increase) and incorporate the $7.5M credit, I am looking at a vehicle with a present value cost of between $38M and $50M.

I see the difference for maintenance between $300 and $1,000 per year (aside from my first car, I generally spend $800 to $1,300 per year on maintenance for ICE, really not limited to any car type), we get an additional present value asset of between $4K and $10K, bringing the right now price down to between $34M and $40M.

Since no other electric cars meet my daily range needs (I could have saved $7M on the 60 [I was willing to pay for the $3M in options], but want the unlimited mileage on the 8 year warranty), I compared to keeping my current car (with growing maintenance costs) or selecting a mid-range "squishy" car (which have slightly lower MPG but the creature comforts rock). IN both cases, the Tesla Model S provided a better economic choice.

Perhaps I will get to be the first owner at 500,000 miles (well, perhaps not - I plan to retire before I hit that mileage - hence the 10 year analysis - if 20 years, not even a bicycle could compare to the economics).

Oh yes, did I mention the intangibles?

How could someone NOT buy a Tesla?

DonS | 7 augustus 2013

Should be low maintenance on traditional items like motor and brakes. However, it will likely be a long time before there are aftermarket replacement parts, meaning every piece that breaks will be sold at premium prices. The electronics in most cars today are not serviceable by the owner, and Tesla seems to be even more difficult than most, so I viewed the extended service as insurance.

Brian H | 8 augustus 2013

make up your mind! is 1,000 K, or M?

madbuns | 8 augustus 2013

I guess that they are both - apologies for mixing my Roman and techno numerals... :-)

Mathew98 | 9 augustus 2013

@madbuns - You'll be burning plenty of rubber every year.

But then again, it should be comparable to tire usage for your ICE anyway. Unless you're going for the 21" package...

Volleyguy | 9 augustus 2013

Most cars are done in by high cost maintainence so people trade. The Mercedes we had was 25 yrs old when someone hit it. The cost on the car was around $150 a month which is not bad but I did much of the work should it have gone to the dealer there is no way it could have been justified at well over $100 an hour to fix. I would guess easy $300 a month if in shop.

At anything near 400k miles a Tesla becomes interesting.

After driving the MS I would be more worried about brakes seizing than needing new ones! Re-gen is awesome.
I can truly see MANY years out of brakes.

In Canada (where I am from) we have to get emission tests every 2 yrs after 5 I think. Cost can get into hundreds if workis needed. Not needed on Tesla.

What will make the MS not feasible to keep going? (thinking years down the road) complicated electronics???

If the motor lasts 40 years which includes the transmission, muffler, rad and so much more.

What will send the MS to the scrap yard barring an accident? (assuming owners can buy new up to date batteries) rust will not happen to all aluminum, so that is out.

Why would a taxi owner NOT want an MS?

David Dennis | 9 augustus 2013

I own a 2003 Mercedes E320 and maintenance is costing me about $4,000 a year. Yikes!

Right now I am spending about $400 a month in gas, so $4,800 a year.

That means it's costing me about $9k a year to keep it on the road, and it's completely paid for.

The MS I would consider (85 range with minimal options) is about $1,100 a month, or $13,200 a year. Add $100/month for fuel costs an we get about $14,400. Trouble is that's with the 72 month payments, which I'm not comfortable with. Over three years it's $2,100 a month which of course is much more expensive than my E-Class.

As others have said, the better comparison is with a new V8 Mercedes CLS-class, where the purchase costs are nearly identical, and so the Tesla cost savings are quite impressive.


mrspaghetti | 9 augustus 2013


A taxi owner would not want it because they would spend too much time charging rather than making money.

mrspaghetti | 9 augustus 2013

And that's ignoring the fact that a guy who drives a taxi probably couldn't buy a car that costs $90k in the first place.

Volleyguy | 9 augustus 2013

Is it not just a few hours? Super Chargers would solve that.

On the Volkswagen Passat TDI.
$30k price and $23k at today's price for diesel in Canada.(closing the gap)

I think Tesla is going to shock many Americans that sales are going to be overseas. Most Americans don't realize gas is cheaper than dirt in the U.S. In Canada it is 20-30% more. In most Countries calculations will be based on gas more than double U.S. price of gas.

Volleyguy | 9 augustus 2013

Sorry that was for 300,000 kilometers of fuel or 186,000 miles.

Volleyguy | 9 augustus 2013

With Elon having a Canadian mother and South African father and building cars in the U.S. he is a very worldly person. My guess is 80% of sales to not be in the U.S..

nickjhowe | 9 augustus 2013

I was chatting to a taxi driver in Miami and he said he did about 200 miles a day, and a quick Google suggests the average in the US is closer to 180.

So an S85 should be fine even without a mid shift recharge. With twin chargers and a stop for lunch at an HPWC or 80A J1772 adapter and they'd have plenty of spare juice.

Taxis drive an average of 55,000 miles a year at 16 mpg. So fuel costs would be c.$14,000 compared to $2,000 for electricity.

Combine that with lower maintenance costs and one-pedal driving and the story looks pretty good, even for a relatively high initial purchase price.

jbunn | 9 augustus 2013

Police and taxi services might be a legitimite use for battery swaps.

Oaktowner | 9 augustus 2013

My company is using Teslas for employee shuttles. Awesome!

dirk.saenen | 10 augustus 2013

IMHO, one should compare to the car you would buy if your were not to buy a M-S.

I would never buy a BMW-7 (or-5, or-3 ), never a Merc., never a Porsche...
I even would never buy a 100k car, no matter what brand. 50k at the most.

And yet, Tesla did this to me. I've spend +100k; almost 3times more then I have ever spend on a car.

So, I guess -when comparing $ (or € in my case)- the TCO of my Tesla is going to be a bit more expensive.

But in life, there are some things you just cannot express in $.

Volleyguy | 10 augustus 2013

How does Tesla do this to us people that would not buy a 100k car? Part of it for me is the lack of guilt. It is indulgence without guilt. A big S Class or 7 series requires obscene amounts of a finite resource that sadly involves war more often than not. If one buys an big guzzler they also do not believe in global warming or do not care?

A Tesla is somewhat guilt free indulgence or sensible indulgence. You only think about what else you could have done with the extra money you spent on the car.

If I was making any of the big Tesla competition I tell you I would be VERY nervous!

The big question is how long will they have a market????

Trekker56 | 10 augustus 2013

Hey hey we moved from a 2006 VW Passat 2.0T to the Model S and the maintenance is MUCH less on the Model S. Just the timing belt and water pump service alone was ~$1,500 on the Passat.

cloroxbb | 10 augustus 2013

@brian H


langzaiguy | 10 augustus 2013

As far as long term maintenance goes, I'm interested to see how reliable the cooling system is. It seems like it would still have the pump, radiator, and maybe thermostat components that an ICE would have--albeit, they're probably not subject to the same amount of heat as an ICE system.

Also, I don't know what kind of gearing and gear oil the MS uses, but I am curious to see how well these hold up, as well.

Volleyguy | 10 augustus 2013

Just off the phone with Volkswagen the scheduled maintenance on a Passat TDI in Canada is $180 every 15,000 kilometers and 30,000 kilometer services are $320 and brakes full just shy of $1k and timing belt and water pump are $1050.

So for 270,000 kilometers
just scheduled maintenance is $1500 for first 90,000 km.
Next 90,000 Kim's will have brakes for sure and timing belt so $3500
Next 90,000 Kim's will have brakes again but no time belt so $2500

Total for sure costs are $7500 for 270,000 Km's (which is about 170,000 miles)

That is not small cost and this is not any repairs on any of the ICE parts. Just guaranteed maintenance.

Volleyguy | 10 augustus 2013

At the Tesla "store" I test drove the MS performance one. I wish they had a 60 there as well. Is the difference huge? Like most companies they blow you away with the high end product.

tobi_ger | 10 augustus 2013

Slight correction (capital T required):

Brian H | 10 augustus 2013

TBO = Total Benefits of Ownership >> TCO. Game over.

Tesla4All | 10 augustus 2013

I'm having some optimism that batteries will become far more durable in future generations. Thus, perhaps, the second battery I can get for my Tesla Model S will be the last one I'll need in the life of the car.

I wonder if we will see these batteries soon enough:

With the initial 10 years of battery life + potential 27 years of life and an electric drivetrain that should last equally long; other less essential things might become the primary annoyances:
1. Paint looking worn-out and perhaps with some dents
2. Plastics losing luster and potentially becoming deformed (my previous car had such problem)
3. The seats having wrinkles (seems they get this problem fast)
4. The technologies becoming outdated: 3G too slow, CPU too slow, GPU too slow

A Model S should be able to last as long as a Boeing 747 (= some 30 years) with fairly minimal service costs, perhaps one battery swap, some cosmetic fixes and computer module updates.

Volleyguy | 11 augustus 2013

Nice to know I am not the only one thinking decades on the car. Yes there will of course be massive change in 27 years but even if the battery declines it will be a great second car.

It is will the battery stop working completely at some point?

frankydude | 11 augustus 2013

I would be concerned about aluminum corrosion in "salt country": Canada, northern parts of the US, Norway, Sweden, etc.

I did saw a post from an owner of a Signature in Ottawa, Ontario that had galvanic corrosion under the front of his car.
How much would be the cost of aluminum corrosion repairs?

Volleyguy | 12 augustus 2013

A good point I have never owned an aluminum car. It is one thing I have been checking into. The lady at the store said you can Krown rust spray the car. Checking into that as well.

langzaiguy | 12 augustus 2013

I've always heard that the corrosion associated with AL is more superficial in nature rather than structural.

I think Volley is absolutely right--battery technology will be a completely different world in 27 years, if not obsolete. BUT, even if the battery has degraded 50% by then, suddenly you have a decent town car. I have a one year old right now. I wouldn't mind her driving it 15 years from now. That is, of course, if I have a second Tesla :)

langzaiguy | 12 augustus 2013

Anyone have guesses as to how cooling systems will hold up--especially if there's battery swapping? There's still a "water pump" (which I assume has its own bearings that could fail), seals, radiator, etc.

frankydude | 12 augustus 2013

Just to point to a picture with the said galvanic corrosion, and discussion associated with this matter:

Quote from post 1803 in the same thread:
"There is a significant crack in the piece, visible in the picture just above the leveler screw (missing its rubber cap in the photo). The top edge is supposed to be a straight line. It has already failed mechanically. This was discovered because the hood sunk a few millimeters on one side.

This is immediately under the hood, so it's very high up in the vehicle. Salt spray from the road definitely does work its way up there, though.

The repair is simple - replace the piece. The question is whether this was a one-off defect (or a bad batch of parts), or whether they have to change the part specs. "

End of Quote.

I would like to know how good is the corrosion protection for the underbody of the model S, as this could impact the TCO of the car. Let's also say that this kind of corrosion is more likely in winter salted regions.

Also, one other thing is about the replacement price of the brake parts. I asked the Montreal SC to provide the cost of the parts for the disk rotors and pads, and they did told me they don't have those datas. As the S are still under warranty, we can understand they did not have to replace those parts yet, but it will happen in the futur, and it would be interesting to learn their cost, in a TCO calculation fashion.

Volleyguy | 12 augustus 2013

That looks terrible!!

As a former truck driver years ago Aluminum rims can last decades and not corrode. They can go for hundreds of thousands of miles as well. It must depend on the quality of the Aluminum???

Brian H | 12 augustus 2013

Contact between 2 metals?

frankydude | 13 augustus 2013

It seems to be, yes, a contact between two metals (steel and aluminum) that did create this galvanic corrosion, leading to the aluminum part failure that is pictured in the link above.

However, there are numerous points on the Model S that has steel and aluminum contact points: between the aluminum suspension and the hub/brake rotor, the attachment of the stabiliser bar, etc.

I checked, and the aluminum suspension parts seems to have no painting nor protective coating against corrosion - looks bare metal to me. IMHO, this would certainly provide corrosion starting points.

Maybe I should start a specific thread about this galvanic corrosion?