What's your backup plan?

What's your backup plan?

I'm still not sure whether my wife and I will be able to really afford the Model S. We certainly are not in the market for a "luxury" vehicle and are making the stretch because we just have 70lb dog and a new daughter and want a bigger car than our current compact. Ideally one with the smallest carbon footprint (and it doesn't hurt that the Model S is sex on wheels). So I'm in the strange position of either buying a $70K car (the Model S), or likely half that for an alternative ($35k-ish).

Unfortunately there's nothing else that even comes close to the Model S's "fuel" economy while combining the space. The hybrid SUV's out there don't really give you much cargo capacity (just more head and elbow room), and their hybrid technology only makes them "less bad", but not exactly "good" (i.e. 30mpg). So I pulled together a list of alternates, none of which I'm particularly excited about. But I thought I'd share and see if there were other people in the same position looking for alternates.

So what's your backup plan in case the Model S doesn't pencil out for you?

Here are my top contenders, but I'd love to hear which one you think is best and get some ideas from other people:

Electric Vehicles
Tesla Model S: $70,000 equipped, MPG = N/A (119 mpg equivalent), Cargo Capacity (CC) = 36.8 / 66 cu. ft.

Hybrids Sedans/SUVs:
Toyota Prius V: $37,000 equipped, 42mpg, CC = 34.3/67.3 cu. ft.

Ford Escape Hybrid SUV: $38,000 equipped, 35mpg, CC = 30.9/66.4 cu. ft.|Ford|Escape|2012|1|1.|.U5K..UX...58N.RETAIL.187.50Q.44H.~DR--F.BRD.MG2.993.]

Lexus RX450h Hybrid SUV: $50,000 equipped, 30 mpg, CC = 40.0/80.3 cu. ft.

ICE SUV/Crossover:
VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI (Bio-Diesel Option): $30,000,MPG=38mpg, CC=32.8/66.9 cu. ft.$GP72P72/2012/0/F14%202R2R/F56%20%20%20%20%20QR/U102078,U104077/+/+

Mazda CX-7: $26,000, 26MPG, CC=29.9/58.6

Toyota Venza: $40,000 equipped, 26MPG, CC=34.4, 70.0|Limited|6-Speed%20Auto%20-%20V6|3.5L%20V6|AWD||Black|Light%20Gray%20Leather%20Trim|FE%2CLT|3T

Ford Flex SUV: $42,000 equipped, 20MPG, CC=20.0/43.2/83.2[|Ford|Flex|2012|1|1.|...UX...VAT4Z-7855100-E.9A8Z-74132A08-AA.BG1Z-9G757-A.NONFLEET.62R.16W.68C.43P.AWD.LTD.99T.]

Audi Q7 TDI SUV (Bio-Diesel Option): $60,000 equipped, 20MPG, CC=10.9/42.0/72.5;jsessionid=AiWf...

Maestrokneer | 27 februari 2012

I should add that we are an urban-living one car family and would prefer to stay that way. Though, we've also toyed around with buying a Leaf for daily commute, and buying a cheap old ICE station wagon for space on longer trips with the dog and kid.

But am really looking for the one size fits all vehicle.

jbunn | 27 februari 2012

Well, that's a pretty loaded Tesla. You could get by a bit cheaper, perhaps.

My case. My car is 13 years old, bought new for 45K, with 200K miles. To drive it for 13 more years with gas at $4.00/gal and no car payments will cost 45K just in fuel. But if it goes to an average of $5.00 over 13 years it's 56K in fuel. And at an average of 6 bucks a galon over the next 13 years? 67,500 in gas. But my car probably won't last that long without a lot of work. Or a new car. And that's on top of fuel.

I don't want a hybrid. Too many moving parts. You have all the complexity of an ICE with all the electronics of an EV. All crammed in a small space. And that's just asking for it. And you still burn gas. I say nooo nooo nooo.

So my plan "B"?

I have no plan B.

ddruz | 27 februari 2012

@Maestrokneer: Would the Toyota RAV4 EV (with power train by Tesla) meet your needs? It is supposed to be available in California in limited supply later this year. If you live in that state it might be worth considering.

Volker.Berlin | 28 februari 2012

IMO, you should have a look at the Ford Focus Diesel Station. It's conventional tech, but very economic. It's not a huge car but provides a lot of space and utility for it's size and price. I always thought if I urgently needed to decide on a car (and reason is the only argument) then the Ford Focus would be it.

I just had a look at Ford's US website, and I could find neither a station wagon not a diesel variant of the Ford Focus. That's definitely sad. Maybe if you look again you'll find it, but if you cannot buy it where you live, then of course that's not an option.

harryjsommer | 28 februari 2012

You can also think about the lincoln mkz hybrid. I hear next years model will get close to 45 mpg and cost about 48k nicely loaded. It's sort of a luxury car. I test drove one. Not much acceleration, not much luxury. Not very sexy. But certainly a lot nicer than the comparable ford.

Timo | 28 februari 2012

Model S would give me 300 miles with approx 90kWh used for electricity. That's 9 EUR / 300 miles or 1.875 EUR /100 km.

If I buy a car with 5L/100km gas consumption that same costs me around 8 EUR. That means Model S mpg-equals over four times that of pretty decent consumption gasoline car. Over 20000km / year I save 12650 EUR in fuel only. That's how much more it can cost me over gas guzzler. 1000 EUR monthly installment more than it. With that in mind I really don't care if it costs a bit more than a ICE car.

Unfortunately it is a bit big for my taste. I'll wait for smaller GenIII car, maybe even GenIII based Roadster, if they don't have anything else between Model S and Mini Cooper (the original one) to offer (I really really really wish for smallish AWD hatchback like Subaru Impreza WRX)

My backup plan: Bicycle, walking, public transportation.

Volker.Berlin | 28 februari 2012
Sudre_ | 28 februari 2012

I would not purchase a model S if cash was tight and I still may not if my cash situation changes in the next few months.

My plan B would be to lease a vehicle, maybe a Model S, for 2 to 3 years until a cheaper smaller family friendly car came out.
My plan C would be to purchase a used car for 2 or 3 years until my finances improved. (if something drastic happened like my company went out of business)

Think carefully about your needs versus wants. I want a 300 mile battery. I need a 160 mile battery but poor weather possibilities here in the mid-west pushed that up to a 240 mile battery. I am saving enough by not buying the 300 mile battery to fly and/or rent for any longer trips for the next 10 years.

I do not need any of the other options. I will decide on those at contract time based on what I can make off Tesla's stock and how much stock I want to sell.

discoducky | 28 februari 2012

There's only one option on that list that, overtime, will meet your cash needs IMHO, assuming gas doesn't hit $6 in 5 years but stays in the $5 range. Prius V. But then you have to drive a Prius V.

But the decision isn't about 'just' cash, it's about carbon footprint, lust, desire, emotion in general. So close the gap by doing things to make the decision easier on your pocketbook like Sudre_ suggests.

I'm doing that by buying TSLA stock which has already bought a larger battery, leather, stereo upgrade, tech package, pano roof. And this is only with the base price of the car invested over the past 5 months.

So it's simple, "If there's a will there's a way"

Maestrokneer | 28 februari 2012

@jbunn: not really Loaded at all, but we drive to Sacramento regularly from the Bay Area so the 160 mile version isnt an option. Add 10K + tax plus one option and you're at 70k in a hurry.

@Discoducky:Haha exactly my assesment as well. Which is why I'm here seeing if other people in similar situations have any better ideas.

Of course long term costs factor in, but we're looking to upsize our 1100 square foot house also because of the new baby. So the immediate cash needs might rul out a Model S (though I'm trying my hardwst to make it happen.)

Good suggestuons all around. Because we have a dog, a sedan isn't an option though unless it's a hatch (like the Model S)

Anyone else in a similar boat? What else are you looking at?

Jason S | 28 februari 2012

My plan is the hand-me-down method. I get the Model S, my 2010 Jetta TDI goes to my wife, her 2000 Altima goes to her brother.

In 4-10 years or so we'll do it again with a GenIII (or Roadster 3.0? or something else), though not sure who would need the TDI at that point. Maybe the niece. Or if gas prices go up dramatically, maybe nobody will want the ICE at all.

If I was under a tight budget though... I might still get the Model S base and just rent for longer trips. Battery prices should drop the EV costs within 10 years, then upgrade the Model S base to a larger pack that should get supercharger access.

BYT | 28 februari 2012

I am struggling with the need/want/really REALLY want options of the Model S! I don't need the 230 or 300 pack but I really REALLY want the performance because I am the type of guy to take another car on at the traffic light any day of the week. I need the +2 seats for my 14 month old twins (I don't race with them in the car), it seems silly not to get the Pano roof and for me the Tech and Stereo packages are also really REALLY want bordering on need. What influences my decision is knowing I plan to have this car 7 or more years from now and would hate having any regret and spending what I have in it. Yes, I most likely will need to take out a $50k loan to cover the difference from what looks like a $40k down payment. I also want to take the car for a spin to see if I can really tell between 0-60 at 6.5 seconds vs. 5.6 or 4.4 and how much I "feel" about it. Hoping TSLA stock hits $150 a share so that I wouldn't have to decide... :D

Brian H | 28 februari 2012

Downsize the dog? ;)

Taking the TeslaRumors model by model comparisons (with the base S) as a basis for comparison:
1 = Model S TCO savings over 5 yrs 2 = TCO savings over 10 yrs (rough estimate)

Prius V: n/av (too new?)
Escape Hybrid SUV: 1- ~$1,000, 2- ~$6,000
Lexus RX450h SUV: 1- $9,400 2- ~$45,000
Flex SUV: 1- $15,000, 2- ~$40,000
Mazda CX-7: 1- $700, 2- ~$4,000
Venza: 1- ~$5,000, 2- ~30,000
Jetta TDI: ?? n/av, but probably about even
Audi Q7 TDI: 1- $36,000, 2- ~$65,000

These numbers would probably need to be offset against the options costs for your Model S.

Tom A | 28 februari 2012

I'll chime in with others here...why not? I'm in a similar boat as some of you, insofar as my patience and finances are not cooperating with one another. Ultimately, though, I do not have a place to plug a car in, so I either need to change my living arrangements or quit whining. :)

Take into consideration that you will not need gas, oil changes, oil filters, air filters or emissions inspections, and brakes and rotors should last 2-4 times as long. The Model S isn't so expensive compared to the half-priced ICEs after that. delves into these numbers in substantial detail.

I would have to finance about $50k, and that's just the 60kWh version, no options. My monthly payments would be much higher than my current payments, but other than a few bucks a month in electricity, my operating expenses would be essentially zero.

The Model S qualifies for the full $7,500 Federal income tax credit. Also, my state of Virginia waives personal property taxes on EVs. How long that will last, I don't know - we've got some ultra-right-wing loonies in Richmond right now.

As I see it, over the life of the vehicle, you either pay the bank less interest on a smaller loan, but then pay the oil companies, gas taxes and repair shops along the way; or, you pay the bank a bit more interest on a higher loan, and leave the rest in your smog-free wake.

Also bear in mind that the Model S has aluminum body panels and a steel-reinforced aluminum frame, so in the long term, rust is not an issue. The body should maintain its structural integrity for a very long time.

I have a 2010 Mercury Mariner hybrid (same as 2010-2012 Escape hybrid except subtle design cues). I could sit comfortably in the SUV than the sedan hybrids (I'm 6'4"). I like it. It's roomy, comfortable, and when you need a boost, the gas engine and electric motor rise to the occasion. I bought the base hybrid model at $30k, and the insurance isn't high. I am averaging 36.0 mpg over 15,000 miles (total miles driven divided by total gallons pumped).

Bear in mind, though, that this is the last year for the Escape hybrid. The 2013 Escapes do not have hybrid or plug-in options, but they do have two of Ford's inline-4 turbocharged "ecoboost" engines coupled to a dry, dual-clutch 6-speed and including start/stop technology.

The Ford C-Max and Fusion have hybrid and plug-in options for the 2013 model year. Pricing and exact availability have yet to be announced. The plug-ins, or "Energi" models, qualify for the EV tax credit, but it won't be the full $7,500 depending on how big the batteries are.

Maestrokneer | 28 februari 2012

@Brian H: Great info! I'll check out the Tesla Rumors site.

Because of the new baby, and daycare costs (and the fact that we don't currently have a car payment because we ownn our 2003 Mazda Protege outright), additional monthly expenses in the form of a car payment need to be very limited. So we're looking to use a large amount of cash on hand to pay for the Model S, and subsequent loan costs. So the long-term payback is important, sure. But right now it's just a matter of balancing cash-now for a car and a bigger house.

Not expecting you guys to solve the financial parts for me or justify the expense. Just more interested to hear what others who are stretching for a Model S are considering as a backup plan for their next car purchase (similar tastes/needs and all, seemed like a good place to get ideas).

BYT | 28 februari 2012

@Maestrokneer, I feel your pain about daycare costs! Last year for my twins I spent $17,000 in daycare only to find out when I filed this weekend that I can only write of $1,200 of it. I was NOT happy. Sorry, off topic but had to vent... :)

mvbf | 28 februari 2012

If awd and clearance are not an issue and money is, I would vote for the Jetta wagon tdi on bio diesel. It is efficient, has nice driving dynamics and will fit your daughter and dog. The panoramic roof is a nice option. They also have good resale value. Go try one out. They are pretty sweet.

If you are in love with the model s (which I would completely understand) and just need to rationalize a financial stretch, then the suggestion to head over to teslarumors is a good one.

SeattleTeslian | 28 februari 2012

I was disappointed with the lack of standard features; a decently equipped Model S is much more expensive than I anticipated. It's making me rethink the purchase.

What's my backup plan? My reservation number is below 2,500. I'm considering either selling my spot directly, or buying a Model S and immediately selling it to someone with more money than patience.

Maestrokneer | 28 februari 2012

@SeattleTeslian: I'm not sure we can do that can we? I'm 2821, so I also have a "relatively" low number. But I was under the impression that you could not transfer reservations (not that I want to at this point)

@mvbf: Yeah, the TDI was leading my list as well. Especially considering I have a Bio-fueling station right next to me here in Berkeley.

Any other suggestions that WEREN'T on my list? (that's probably the biggest driver for starting this thread was to get new ideas, because I'm fresh out)

Jason S | 28 februari 2012

Semi-implied option; stick with current car for a few more years and get an early reservation on the gen 3 Tesla?

Tho Berkeley isn't that far from Sacramento; 120 miles or so door to door for most places. Could be fine with a base Model S and a friendly plug on the far end for 24 hours or so.

Volker.Berlin | 29 februari 2012

The Jetta TDI wagon is actually pretty much equivalent to what I suggested with the Ford Focus diesel station wagon (which seems to be unavailable in the US).

Robert.Boston | 29 februari 2012

@Jason S: I agree, my backup plan is to skip the Model S and wait for the Gen III, and continue to make do with my current cars.

mvbf | 29 februari 2012

Unfortunately, the pickings are slim in this country on efficient vehicles. I would steer you away from the CUV/SUV categories in general unless you really need the clearance. I find the hit on driving dynamics with the higher center of gravity barely acceptable and definitely less safe than a vehicle with a lower center of gravity. The exception would be the toyota ev rav4 supposedly coming out this year for California residents with the tesla battery pack lining the bottom which keeps the center of gravity low despite its height. It is only supposed to get a 100 mile range though which sounds like it rules it out for you. I will do a little research to see if there anything else out there worth considering.

Mycroft | 29 februari 2012

Yes, if you don't need the height or clearance, a normal station wagon has plenty of space for a dog and stuff with much better mileage and ride.

Volker.Berlin | 29 februari 2012

I'm almost sure that there was yet another thread along the lines of "Which car are you going to replace by the Model S". That was fun to read and it may offer some inspiration. However, I cannot find it any more... :-/

mvbf | 29 februari 2012

If AWD is an important consideration I might consider the Subaru impreza wagon:

or strangely the mini cooper countryman all 4 which might have enough space:

Still I think the Jetta tdi sport wagon is your best back up. A nice set of winter tires would set you up for most winter conditions. I am not up to date with how the new tdi's run on biodiesel, so you might look into that first.

Lastly, dog and luggage can be a challenge both in terms of space and hair mess on your stuff. A car box for this occasional use will take a big hit on efficiency, but the key word here is occasional. Rear facing infant car seats are surprisingly long and need more rear seat space than you would imagine. If you do not already own one, you might measure an infant seat dimensions in a store. Best is to buy one, install it and see how far the front seats can back up before they hit it.

Good luck and congratulations on the new daughter.

mvbf | 29 februari 2012

I wonder if Tesla wants us making alternative suggestions on their forums; maybe it got deleted. Oh whoops ...

Volker.Berlin | 29 februari 2012


Well, that thread really was more about cars people currently own. A lot of Priuses and Leafs were among them, a healthy blend of 5-series, A6, and E-class, and then some. The range spanned from like a 20-year-old Jetta to an almost new Porsche Panamera... It was a fun read (and probably interesting input to Tesla's own market research department). Maybe it was in a different forum.

BYT | 29 februari 2012

I remember seeing it on here as well Volker as I posted to it myself... :)

stephen.kamichik | 29 februari 2012

It might be the thread that I posted....who among us owns the oldest car.

Volker.Berlin | 29 februari 2012

That would be this one:

But no, I had yet another one in mind. Never mind.

clea | 29 februari 2012

the only one i remember is the one over on TMC (!).

Volker.Berlin | 29 februari 2012

clea, that may be it! ;-) Entertaining in any case.

David M. | 29 februari 2012

Currently we do not need to purchase a new car. We have two well maintained cars (ages 4 and 6), with lower than average miles on each. We will sell the 6 year old Lexus to CarMax when Tesla delivers the Model S later this year. If we changed our mind on the Model S, we'll keep paying $4 /gallon for gas (most Lexus cars require premium gas).

However, we won't change our mind, so no backup plan is needed. We're planning on the 300mi battery, so no chance of range anxiety.

I'm looking forward to helping to educate others on the benefits of owning an EV. If Tesla is smart, they will print up lots of educational promotional flyers that owners can keep in their cars and hand out to curious onlookers.

Jason S | 29 februari 2012

The Signature's come with the frunk full of fold-outs?

stephen.kamichik | 29 februari 2012

Playboy fold outs? What kind of foldouts does the production model S come with?

Brian H | 29 februari 2012

Playcar foldouts? Getcher electric sex jolt here? :D

About the dog hair-everywhere issue, just recently saw a late-nite infomercial promo of a car seat cover guraranteed water and dog-proof, easily removed and cleaned. Especially valuable for those motion sick-ups. ;)

Looked fairly good in place, not like a DIY plastic cover or SLT.

Brian H | 29 februari 2012

typo: guaranteed, not "guraranteed"!

Jason S | 29 februari 2012

Yeesh, knew I should've put some context on my failed frunk fold-out funny. It was @David M's last comment: "If Tesla is smart, they will print up lots of educational promotional flyers that owners can keep in their cars and hand out to curious onlookers."

All I got is the flyer that folds out into a big picture... of the car. Sure its sexy, similar to what Stephen K salaciously says.

Maestrokneer | 29 februari 2012

@mvbf: Good point on the dog hair issue, and it's the only reason I'm considering an SUV/CUV. The ability to store the dog and luggage/groceries in a different place would be great (it's one of the best parts about the "frunk" and why it's so damn difficult to find a "peer" for the Model S.

I'm a little surprised that it doesn't sound like there are too many other people who are in the same situation. All great advice and suggestions from the group here, but no one else seems to be stretching enough to actually consider a backup. Maybe I'm being too practical. Or maybe anyone who was in the same situation wouldn't have put the $5000K reservation down to begin with! :-)

Well we'll see how it shakes out. I'm certainly hoping to be a proud member of the Tesla family come Fall 2012.

I definitely think it speaks to the quality of the car and the need for the product if we are having a hard time coming up with an equivalent alternative. Good place to be in as a company when your product has no equals.

phb | 29 februari 2012

Simply not buying a new car. I'm not going to buy anymore ICEs that aren't for towing the Airstream (and I'm hoping I don't have to do that).

If I don't end up with a Model S, I'll wait for the Gen III or some other kind of EV if TM goes belly up (I'm not too worried about that).

andrewmfallon | 1 maart 2012

I just filled up the tank of my 2004 Volvo XC90 - $62! That the kind of bill that makes the Model S look reasonably priced!

petero | 1 maart 2012

David M. When you are ready to sell your Lexus , I have a suggestion. This sounds like an advertisement but it is an endorsement.

Autotrader offers a service called “Autotrader Guarentee Trade In Price.” You honestly fill in the questionnaire and it will give you a price that one of their member dealers will give you. Of course the dealer has to inspect your vehicle and his/her opinion may differ a bit on condition. The key word is honestly. I found this an excellent wholesale valuation tool that saves quite a bit of time.

Also, give TM an opportunity to buy your trade in, who knows it may be an option.

petero | 1 maart 2012

Goodbye beloved “S.” Wonderful wife arrived home tonight ranting about the escalating price of gasoline, which surprised me because I usually get the pleasure of filling up her ICE. “Can you believe those thieves are getting $4.39.9 a gallon (regular)?” I am sure glad I am getting an "S.” I decided to be quiet.

So there goes my “S,” I wasn’t planning on buying another Tesla until the smaller, Bluestar is unveiled. Hello, Mr. Musk, if you are listening ... Help.

EdG | 1 maart 2012

It wasn't yours before; you were fooling yourself. No one likes waking from a nice dream. I'm lucky enough that my wife is allergic to new technologies, so I have at least a few months of driving it myself.

BYT | 1 maart 2012

I am also the sole driver of my Model S, I have been in line for a new car in my family for many years and it's my turn so she's not taking it away from me! :D

On the note about advertising for Tesla, maybe they should add a Demo tab to the 17" Infotament screen to educate those interested in the car to learn about the value of an EV like the Model S. It would be a killer presentation that would take advantage of the Audio Package I plan to upgrade to! ;)

petero | 1 maart 2012

EdG. You will be unpleasantly surprised how quickly your wife will become an “early adapter.” I wish the “S” came with a manual transmission, then it would be my car. I will say the fantasy was nice while it lasted, truthfully, I lost the “S” at Fremont.

BYT. In my family I am the first to commit and the last to get. My last new car was a 2005 Wrangler that I drove about a year until my son got his driver’s license and said he looked cooler driving the Jeep than me – he was right.

BYT | 1 maart 2012

LOL@Peter, we need to be selfish from time to time but you sound like an awesome Dad. My daughter wouldn't get away with saying she looks cooler in my car then me, mostly because she would be wrong... ;)

Thumper | 1 maart 2012

My backup plan is: Scout obstacles in the vicinity of my new Model S, sit in drivers seat, place car in drive (by pushing a button I hope), watch back-up camera image on the screen and carefully back up!

prash.saka | 1 maart 2012

I was almost certain that I would get the Lexus CT 200h; that was late last year. As I graduated from business school two years ago, Lexus was giving me a $1000 recent graduate discount to sweeten the deal.

And then, just by chance, when I was reading about Fisker Karma, I came across Tesla. I did read about Tesla and the Roadster a few years ago, but it completely slipped my mind. The more I read about Tesla, the more impressed I was.

On Dec 10th last year, we, my wife and I, went to the Tesla showroom in DC. When the guy there informed me that price starts at 50K, I was sold.

When Tesla put up pricing information, I was disappointed a little. Even though the CT 200h would be more than enough for us, I am sticking with the Model S. I am not sure which one. The 160 mile one would work great for me; I have a 20 mile each way commute to work. If it weren't for the lack of supercharger access, the 160 mile version is a no-brainer for me.

I do miss the Lexus's recent graduate discount though :)