Can you afford a Tesla?

I frequently hear that Tesla’s are very expensive – I’ll often mention that you can buy the base Model 3 for $35-$40k, to which I hear “ya, but I wouldn’t want THAT car, when I add all of the options, it will be a lot more expensive”.

The base “Standard Range” Model 3 (SR) and “Standard Range+” Model 3 (SR+), are awesome cars, without compromise – might you want additional add-ons, maybe, but the SR and SR+ are not designed to be limited or compromised cars that force you to NEED the additional options or the more expensive variants.

The SR price is $35,400 and the SR+ is $39,900 (plus destination, taxes, title …) – if you buy before June 30th 2019, there is a $3,750 Federal Tax rebate – so the net cost is $31,650 and $36,150. Many states (for example, my home state of Mayrland) offer additional financial incentives. In reality, an Electric car cost you a lot less (when compared to a gas car) to own/operate, as:

  • You will likely save $50-$100/month on Gas

  • You will likely save $100-$300/year on oil changes

  • You will not spend on other typical gas engine maintenance (for instance there is no muffler, so it will never need to be replaced), and the brake pads rarely need to be changed!

  • You will save significant time in never going to a gas station, taking your car for an oil change (or other routine maintenance) – what is your time worth?

In case your asking the question – won’t it cost a lot to replace the battery – Tesla’s consistently see under 10% battery degradation after 100k miles! And, the motor has been tested/designed for over MILLION miles!

The SR and SR+ are awesome cars – they still include virtually the exact same interior (Vegan leather, power seats …) and glass roof as the higher priced models – and from the outside, the only differences are the badge (the Dual Motor variants have “Dual Motor” badge on them) and possibly the wheels.

Which Model 3 makes sense for you? There are three key questions you should ask yourself:

  • Do you need/want all wheel drive?

  • How much range do you need? (see blog on this topic – How Much Range Do You Need?)

  • Do you need/want Auto pilot?

Below is a decision diagram to help you determine the Model 3 that fits your needs

What are you missing out if you go with the “base” SR/SR+ models:

  • Range of the SR is 220 miles, the SR+ is 240 miles. The Long Range models being offered have a 310 mile range

  • Speed – the SR does 0-60 in 5.6 seconds the SR+ in 5.3 seconds – the Performance Model 3 is a neck snapping 3.2 seconds – for most of you, 5.6 seconds will be the fastest car you’ve ever owned (before my Tesla, I never owned a car with sub 6 second 0-60!)

  • Auto pilot – the SR+ comes standard with Auto pilot (as do the more expensive variants), the SR does not include Auto pilot (but it can be added after purchase). Full self driving is a paid upgrade for all Model 3s – its $6,000

  • Cellular connectivity package – the SR and SR+ do not include this, so if you want streaming music you can connect your cell phone via bluetooth to the car’s audio system, if you want live traffic, you can use google maps/waze on your mobile phone. I believe this connectivity package will be offered at a nominal price in the future (for those that want it)

  • Dual motor/AWD – the SR and SR+ are single motor/single axle drive, and are known to perform awesomely in the snow as a result of the weight distribution of the battery and the advanced traction control system – AWD is definitely nice, but only available with the more expensive Long Range variants …

  • Exterior color – all Model 3s come standard with Black paint – other colors cost $1,000-$2,000

  • Interior color – all Model 3s come standard with Black vegan leather – White is an option for $1,000

  • There are a few other more minor (in my opinion) differences – the SR does not include fog lights, or interior accent lights. The SR and SR+ have less fancy audio systems, and only the front seats can be heated (not the rear seats)

  • What is most interesting, is that many of the differences are software controlled – so Tesla already offers upgrades after purchase for some capabilities (for instance, they offer the ability to move up from an SR to SR+ after purchase), and may extend to other capabilities (like the connectivity package, or heated rear seats)

I will also note, that others have done some very detailed analysis on the true cost to own a Tesla Model 3 – and it’s quite attractive – you will find that in many ways the Model 3 is a “BMW 3 series” class car, that will have a total cost of ownership as (or less than) a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.

Final note – if your interested in the “SR” (vs. the “SR+”), you can only order it by phone or at a Tesla store – you won’t see it available through the web based online ordering.

Final Final note – pricing is as of publishing of this blog post; refer to the Tesla website and other website for highly detailed feature comparisons between the different Model 3 variants (above differences are the ones I think are most likely to be of interest to readers)