EV car ownership musings....just thinking out loud

EV car ownership musings....just thinking out loud

So I really want a Tesla Model S, have to get some expenses paid first, but may be ready to order in 2014. I have some thoughts about owning a Tesla (or any EV for that matter). Please comment or correct my statements below. I'm not disrespecting EV ownership in the least, I just want to know what I'd be getting into...

1) Once the 8-year warranty on a Tesla (and also the warranty on a Leaf, for example) is over, the car has an effective value of zero.
2) Since the batteries cannot be upgraded (Tesla and Leaf) or replaced, once they are dead, the car is dead.
3) Unlike a hybrid or gasoline car, the end of the battery warranty period is likely the end-of-life for the vehicle.
4) The battery range will decline over the life of the warranty, possibly leaving you at the end with much reduced range.

If my assumptions are correct, then you must replace any EV at the end of its battery warranty. This means that for the $30K Leaf and the $90K Tesla, you're deciding to pay $4K or $10K per year to own the car for 10 years (I through in an extra $1K per year for financing charges, electrical costs, fudge factor).

No flames, please. I'm just a good businessman who wants to know his costs. After a couple of car fiascos, I need pretty solid reasoning to drop almost $100K on a Model S. Any input will be greatly appreciated.

Brian H | 15 mei 2013

20 yrs is the more likely engineering estimate for "end of life" for a TM battery (70% left). And TM batteries, unlike Leaf, are explicitly replaceable. There's some dispute about whether they will be upgradeable, too. Time will tell, or Elon will.

Kleist | 15 mei 2013

1) same for ICE... book value will be low, but actual value is what a buyer is willing to pay. My wife 2nd last 12 year old ICE had a book value of zero and we sold it for $3k.
2) batteries can be replaced.
3) no
4) yes. Estimates are that after 8 years you have 70% left, so a 85 kWh battery would be equivalent to a new 60 kWh battery. Plenty of capacity left to drive from super charger to super charger.

Panoz | 15 mei 2013

Interesting, and much to my relief, good statements. I thought I had read that the batteries on a Tesla were NOT replaceable - you had to disassemble the car to get to them. I'm glad to hear that's not the case.

And I never thought of an 85k battery at end-of-warranty being a new 60K battery - great point! That really makes an argument for the car, and makes an argument for the 85k battery.

Wow, this just helped make an argument for the Model S - it's not dead at 8 years.

PorfirioR | 15 mei 2013

I am on your same boat. I have been a stock holder for a while but not an owner yet. Still siting on the fence waiting to pull the trigger.

In my case, the 36 month lease guaranteed residual value deal might be the turning point, since it means that I could just upgrade every 3 years (if I want to) and not worry about end of life.

Resale value is also not discussed very much, but take a look at the used Roadsters sold on this site. That is not a bad retention rate on the purchase price.

Also, as the technology matures, 50% residual of a today's Tesla might get me more than 50% of a 3-year-from-now Tesla. I know, I drive my wife nuts with how I analyze stuff.

I think Tesla is doing everything possible to remove any battery anxiety from the purchasing decision and it seems to be working.

Brian H | 15 mei 2013

Owners generally seem to suspect good news about batteries will be coming down the road, and I suspect they're right.

carlgo | 16 mei 2013

A Tesla with a new battery, a great new warranty and attractive financing would make for a compelling refurb. This would keep the value up.

Let's say you were attracted to a Certified Pre-Owned BMW (I bought mine that way). Nice car, extended warranty. Not bad at all. But then you see a Tesla CPO that is actually refurbed with a new high performance battery and has this terrific almost new car warranty. The gas is free and there are by then lots of supercharging stations and perhaps new charging technologies... The Tesla dealership guy says, hey, stop by anytime and we will fill it up for free while you have free coffee and pastries (or tapas at the smart dealership).

Which one would you buy?

SonomaDriver | 16 mei 2013

Like many, I'm trying to ensure I understand all of the differences between owning a high end ICE BMW and a Tesla. Owning a Tesla requires a different approach from an ICE vehicle with the battery the biggest concern.

The length of warranty and Elons statements have addressed my concerns. Now to deal with the fact this car is extremely expensive :)

Brian H | 16 mei 2013

Check out . "Can you afford NOT to buy a Tesla?"

shop | 16 mei 2013

I know I'm an outlier, but here in San Diego, they have a special electric rate for EV owners. That rate has saved me 38% off my electric bill. In ten years, that electric bill savings will have paid off my car 100% (please don't do the math - yes my electric bill is really high). I have no idea how long this situation will last (high regular rates coupled with a generous EV rate), but I am thinking it is pretty funny that SDG&E is paying for my car :-)