a Tesla for folks not in the 1%

a Tesla for folks not in the 1%

The Model S is a stunning achievement on many dimensions. Although the price is very reasonable, it is out of reach for most people not in the top 1%. I wonder how much the price could come down without the luxury items and huge battery. Here is a Tesla I would buy today:
-- 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds
-- 60-0 mph in 115 feet
-- range 45 miles at 70 mph (15 kwh battery, if car is light enough?)
-- weight 3,300 lbs
-- 18- or 19-inch wheels
-- suspension and steering tuned like a BMW 1-series
-- body style: sedan or coupe
-- zero luxury features (no metallic paint, no sunroof, no navigation, no leather, etc)
-- cost $33K (after gov tax credit)

I guess the Ford Focus electric is getting close, but Tesla could do so much better and knock this out of the park.

ghillair | 19 januari 2013

Wait a couple years the GenIII is coming and will be the car you want.

Check this old post for full details.

Superliner | 19 januari 2013

Sounds like my 1993 Ford Escort wagon conversion lol!! Using 20 6V deep cycle marine batteries 120V nominal DC, Curtis 1221C motor speed controller, Advanced DC 9" dual shaft DC motor, Todd DC/DC converter and a few (ok alot) of man hours. Drove that thing for just over 3 years as a daily driver. While I waited for an EV-1 lease to come available, sadly I never got one.

The problem for BEV affordability seems to begin and end with the batteries, put enough in the car to make it useful then it's too expensive on the other hand put few enough in the car to make it affordable then the car is not useful due to limited range capability. With no BIG battery energy density / cost breakthrough looming it might be awhile before we see the needle move towards an affordable "desirable" BEV.

Mark22 | 19 januari 2013

Those cars are made now. And most have a range more than 45 miles.

And second, Tesla's aren't just for the top 1%, although they certainly are luxury sedans. Perhaps more like the top 10%.

Superliner | 19 januari 2013


The price of the Model S is not what I'd call reasonable if viewed from the other 90 - 99% of the car buying public and is on the bleeding edge even in 40kw form for the majority of the public who must justify it on their family budget sheet.

Brian H | 19 januari 2013

Superliner; asked the question, "Can you afford NOT to but a Model S?" based on 5-10 year TCO, using conservative depreciation rates etc. You can probably tack on about $1-2000/yr value that people put on skipping the gas station experience, too.

People buy solar roofs and other assets based on that kind of calculus. Don't underestimate the public or the market.

Desai | 19 januari 2013

@jdmd & @Mark22: I would disagree. I am no were close the top 10% or let alone top 1%. However, I am getting one (P8460). It is all about planning and budgeting. It is tough (trust me) but it isn't impossible.

@Brian H: Definitely one of the many reasons that I added to my reasons of getting a Model S. Have been following Tesla since 2006 - so close to getting mine (2/21 - 3/7)!

Brian H | 19 januari 2013

Desai, if you were to put a $ value on avoiding gas stations, what would it be per year? Assume identical cars, same costs, but one refills at home. How much is that worth?

Timo | 20 januari 2013

If you live in Norway people that can afford Model S equals people that can afford a car. Any car.

Superliner | 20 januari 2013

GenIII whatever it is MUST offer some value over Focus Leaf etc. when introduced. $40,000 for 75 mile range just won't cut it. Tesla has set the bar pretty high and if GenIII is just another attempt at an affordable BEV that offers nothing more than others existing at that time, my guess is that it will be met with limited acceptance.

Tesla branding "might" help to a point with some sighting the performance and cutting edge tech of preceding offerings "Model S & model X" but at the end of the day we are going to need to see something near Model S / X type range capability @ say $25-27K to tip the scales if the climate remains as it is as far as BEV acceptance / affordability.

Additionally as has been mentioned elsewhere in these forums "we are moving from pioneers to settlers" and in a click and ship world GenIII is going to have to have MUCH better supply / availability of vehicles and a ramp up of communication from Tesla throughout the ordering and delivery process. Joe car buyer might not be able or willing to cough up 5K and then wait 3-6 months or more to get a finalize button. then wait weeks / months? more to get the veh.

He will also be more likely to be trading in another veh. to assist in the purchase, another area where Tesla is currently hampered with no dealer network to handle the inflow of used assets coming in on trade. Make no mistake folks this is a "heavy lift".

I hope they can pull it off but it is bound to be a rough ride.

Brian H | 20 januari 2013

Maybe the GenIII trade-in problem will solve itself; the car will be so popular that ICE cars will be virtually worthless on trade-in except for scrap value because no one will want them, so TM will just have to hook up with scrap dealers. ;) ;p >B-0

Timo | 20 januari 2013

@Superliner GenIII whatever it is MUST offer some value over Focus Leaf etc. when introduced. $40,000 for 75 mile range just won't cut it.

How about that @ 0-60 in 3 secs? :-) (twin motors and all that)

Realistically, if Model S 40kWh version starts at approx $50k and has 160mile battery I would expect GenIII $30k getting at least same range (it's smaller which equals better CdA, even if they use heavier and cheaper materials).

Also the beauty of the Tesla.

drp | 21 januari 2013

Somebody has to pay for the design and innovation costs. This is super expensive and it still is a start up company. Nothing on this scale has ever been done with ev so that is why the costs are high. If you read Elon's report from 2006 subtitled "just between you and me" you will see a brilliant business model that is coming to fruition. It also Lays out the plans for a more affordable version down the road.

cprenzl | 21 januari 2013

Um I think you haven't looked at the new 2013 leaf. 75 miles real worldrange, bare bones, 28,800 BEFORE tax credit. This is what you are describing

jk2014 | 21 januari 2013

300+ mile range for the price of a prius will compel millions to convert. Build it and they will come as they say. Tesla needs a couple years to prepare internal systems for this tidal wave of business. Not a matter of will, but when...

aaronw2 | 21 januari 2013

Right now the biggest limitation is the price of batteries. However, the price and performance of battery technology is rapidly improving so it is just a matter of time. The next biggest cost I expect is the price of all of that aluminum instead of steel. I suspect the cost of the electric motor is not that much, likely a lot less then a gasoline engine, though the big inverters are probably not all that cheap (though the price should drop with quantity).

I am not in the 1%. I am just careful with my budget and threw every extra penny I had into paying off my house. Once that's done, everything else is a lot easier. It also helps that I bought my house at the right time (1997).

Superliner | 21 januari 2013

@ Timo

0-60 in 3 sec. or twin motors etc. is not what I and perhaps many want or expect out of our daily ride. I've made commutes of as little as 4 miles to as many as 115 round trip for more than 30 years, and can probably count the times on one hand that I found a need or desire to blast to 60 mph from a dead stop. Whats MUCH more useful is in the 45 or 50 to 65 or 70 mph range for merging passing etc.

Drag racing belongs on the strip IMHO

Superliner | 21 januari 2013


Yes I have.. and here is what I found! By the way it won't allow me to configure a 2013 currently. $35,200 for an SV and $37,250 for an SL as soon as you click the configure link. These prices exclude tax, lic, etc so at the end of the day $40k or certainly within spitting distance. The tax credit is at this point pie in the sky and a year away for Joe car buyer. Want one today it will cost you close to $40K out the door or on the back end of your lease if you terminate.

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olanmills | 21 januari 2013

I believe if Tesla is successful over the next couple years, then there will be a car for you within the next 10 years jdmd, if not from Tesla, then a competitor or partner.

BTW, I'm not in the 1% (but definitely I am very fortunate to be able to afford a Tesla).

FLsportscarenth... | 21 januari 2013

If you are in North America, you can make it into the 1% if you really want it bad enough... Even people who can barely speak english when they arrive here can be millionaires within a decade if they work hard and smart enough, I know quite a few of them and most of them started from nothing...

You may be familiar with a young middle class kid from a country that was diving for the weeds with a knack for programming, he later started a company called Tesla Motors... He was not born a billionaire!

I do not buy that class warfare crap about the 1% versus the 99%... Malcontents without vision or too lazy to innovate or work hard I call it. Get some discipline and save your money, invest it or build a business or something... This is America, you are free to succeed or fail on your own merits here. If a lowly paid schoolteacher can afford a Model S by saving up for it so can you! Sure there are a lot of displaced workers with outdated skills or degrees, the politicians lie about everything, this 'jobless' recovery is no recovery at all, we are still in recession and a lot of people are still hurting, but such is life - it beats socialism - just ask any Cuban or North Korean! In a free market their is always hope because we can make our own future...

Hope is not doled out like government cheese, it spring forth from the freedom to make a better outcome for yourself and your family...

Timo | 22 januari 2013

"battery cost is the limiting factor"

Lets assume 40kWh for 150+ mile real life range.

Lets use same Panasonic NCR18650a as is in Model S for that (should be cheap as dirt by then, but lets take current day price) ~$7 (cheaper for Tesla perhaps) / cell. 40kWh equals about 3600 cells. That's $25200 for batteries alone.

That leaves $4800 for rest of the car for $30k price tag. Not likely, but in the limits of possibility. Wont be premium no matter how you look at that though.

Drop to $5 / cell: 18000 for battery, 12000 for rest of the car. Now that starts to look more feasible.

So it all depends of the battery prices by the time GenIII affordable car (bluestar) appears.

@FLsportscarenth, I concur, making money is not difficult. Hard, but not difficult.

Benz | 22 januari 2013

I have tested a Nissan Leaf.
I had driven 97 km with it, and the battery was almost empty (only 10 km were left).

I am also waiting for a good Tesla Car that really is affordable.

When will Tesla show their next car (after the Roadster, Model S, and Model X)? In 2013 / 2014 / 2015?

Superliner | 22 januari 2013

@ FLsportscarenth

That's all true, but I did not see anyone in this thread complaining about that?? My point is.. If Tesla wants more market share and ultimately more BEV's on the road which would benefit all now and in the future, then they will have to move down market.

Brian H | 22 januari 2013

I guesstimate that the GenIII will be revealed, and reservations opened for deposits, in late 2014. One year of collecting reservations, and then deliveries begin late 2015-early 2016.

danielccc | 22 januari 2013

I don't think Tesla will ever sell a car with a 45 mile range. The company DNA requires that the range be substantial, as does the supercharger network.

Generation III will need to be in the 200+ mile range to be seriously thought of as a Tesla. For an Audi A3 equivalent, this means at least 50 kWh.

They've got two years for battery prices to come down. Remember, this means per kWh, not per cell, so the quickest way to get there is for new cells to hold more charge, so fewer cells would be needed. I don't think the price per cell will drop that much, but a number of 2x improvements have been announced, so if even one of those pans out partially (say a 1.7x improvement), that would be good enough for a very nice Generation III car to be sold from $30K to $60K.

Benz | 22 januari 2013

I think that first of all the Supercharger network will have to be completed in USA, Europe and Asia, before Tesla Motors will become a brand that sells really big numbers of cars annually.

FLsportscarenth... | 23 januari 2013

@Super That is the plan... GENIII is the goal and a very worthy one... Providing that it has the Tesla DNA (decent range - 200 miles, sporty looks and high quality, SC option would be nice too). My point was that if someone wants a model S, it is within reach, go for it! I admire that schoolteacher for getting one... It is not limited to the 1% or 10% or whatnot.

@Benz Agree with your estimate, a 2015 production date will give time for the price of the batteries to go down - the biggest problem right now... SC Network will bring Tesla from a Porsche like niche car to the big leagues... As long as they keep building the North American network and there is plans or desire to expand it to Europe, Australia and Asia the concept will help sell Tesla...

emrnitin | 24 januari 2013

When I read the title of this thread, I already thought that this car must be expensive. But I guess being expensive doesn't necessarily just plain expensive, but rather something that will be worth it. I know Tesla always produces quality cars that's why whatever the price of the cars are, it's just right.

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GoTeslaChicago | 24 januari 2013

(Cross posted from the Model X thread)

paraphrased question: Why delay the Gen III by developing the Model X? Why not go straight to the Gen III?

I think a major under appreciated factor affecting the timing of the Gen III is the battery cost. If the Gen III were completely designed and ready for production now it would flop. Why? Because the cost of the battery is currently too high to make an affordable AND desirable electric car. We need 3-4 more years of 8% per annum battery improvement/cost decline to make the Gen III possible. Therefore most likely Gen III will begin production in late 2016 or early 2017.

Therefore the extra volume & profits of the Model X will help make the Gen III both possible and successful.

More profits equals more money available for Gen III R & D.

More volume (Model X combined with Model S) equals economies of scale necessary to drive battery & battery pack production costs down.

Brian H | 26 januari 2013

Also, Mod X addressed a different aspect of the market's need, and took less alteration of the Model S design. Mod X was a minor deviation; GenIII is a semi-major one.

Maiky Nisute | 26 januari 2013

I hope that the Tesla C 3 fase car will be more affordable than the leaf sins even that car is out of my league

Timo | 26 januari 2013

Not likely, Maiky. Tesla is a high-end brand, so even their "affordable car" will most likely be competing with middle-level BMW, Audi, MB etc.

OTOH BEV is so much cheaper to keep that you should calculate if it gets cheaper than your current car in long run and then calculate if you can afford it by taking car loan (and pay that loan back by saved gas costs).

Brian H | 27 januari 2013

Eventually, there will be a REAL low end version, which people will nickname the "TesKia". >:)

Benz | 27 januari 2013

Good point. Sounds realistic to me.

Brian H | 27 januari 2013

Gen III is targetted to cut MS costs in half. I think the battery will be bigger than you project, and the price before options a bit lower.

Benz | 29 januari 2013

@Brian H
Would Tesla Motors consider to introduce a stationcar (before the introduction of the GEN III car)? These stationcars are very popular actually (certainly in Europe). And every car company has got these on offer. I am thinking of a stationcar which will be on the same platform as the Model S and the Model X. I believe these are the GEN II cars, right?

Timo | 29 januari 2013

Benz, I'm guessing that you mean station wagon with station car. At least I don't know what station car means.

Benz | 29 januari 2013

Well, here in The Netherlands "stationcar" is a very commonly used word. Maybe you are right, and the official word is "station wagon". But I understand that you do know now what I mean?

Timo | 29 januari 2013

I'm guessing that you mean station wagon:

Benz | 29 januari 2013


Brian H | 29 januari 2013

Elon has talked about "variants" on the Model S, and that might be one of them.

Benz | 29 januari 2013

Good to know that there just might be more "variants" coming (next to the Tesla Model S and the Tesla Model X). That would be just fantastic.

It's good for the buyers that they will have more options to choose from, because of their own individual situation (they can buy what suits them best). And it's good for Tesla Motors as well to offer more options to the buyers, because the buyers then will not have to go to another car company, to make their personally optimal choise.