One of Tesla's Cheapest Cars Just Got Way Cheaper

by Monica Hunter-Hart
Flickr / mariordo59

The new Tesla Model 3 will be Elon Musk’s first relatively affordable electric car, but after a hefty price cut on Monday, the faster and fancier Model S isn’t that pricey either. Tesla announced that the cheapest Model S 75 series would drop $5,000 to $69,500, making it the cheapest Tesla money can buy now that the Model S 60 series has been discontinued.

Model S 60 was originally the base version of Tesla’s Model S vehicles. But on April 16, the company stopped offering the car due to a lack of demand. Version 60 owners tend to upgrade their standard 60-kWh battery to a 75-kWh battery, effectively making their vehicles into the 75-series car, so discontinuing the 60 series was intended to “simplify the ordering process for our customers,” according to Tesla.

Now that Model S 75 is the new base version, Tesla has lowered its price. Other versions of the model S are also becoming less expensive, though the changes are not as significant as that of version 75. “Periodically we have adjusted pricing and available options to best reflect the value of our products and our customers’ preferences,” Tesla told Motor Trend. Here are the updated prices for all the versions of the Model S:

75: $69,500
75D: $74,500
90D: $87,500
100D: $97,500 (starting April 24)
P100DL: $140,000 (starting April 24)

Until the Model 3 comes out (which will likely be sometime in July), the Model S 75 is now the cheapest Tesla car. So how does its price compare to the forthcoming Model 3?

The starting price of the Model 3 is $35,000, versus the Model S 75 at $69,500; that’s a $34,500 difference, or almost twice as much as the Model 3. From this perspective, it seems that the release of the Model 3 really will be a watershed moment in terms of the affordability of electric cars that use advanced technology.

But that’s just looking at the starting prices. Inverse’s highest estimate about the “real” cost of a Model 3 — in other words, the cost of a Model 3 including all of the customization options — was about $109,500, before savings on gas and the tax cuts that exist in certain states. Since the prices of the Model 3’s upgrades have not yet been released, that estimate is based off of the Model S’s customization options, which cost $74,500 altogether. Model 3’s upgrades are likely to be somewhat cheaper than Model S’s, but they definitely won’t be as comparatively cheap (i.e. 50% less expensive) as the base model.

So the huge price gap between the Model 3 and Model S will narrow as customization options are added. If owners don’t upgrade their vehicles at all, the base Model 3 will cost them half as much as the base Model S. But upgrades are an established part of the experience of owning a Tesla; many owners will customize their Model 3, and with each upgrade, the Model 3 deal becomes less sweet compared to that of a baseline Model S.

As Elon Musk’s Gigafactory continues to expand and push down the prices of electric car batteries, it’s possible that the prices of all the Tesla versions and models will continue to drop. That will be truly sweet.

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