Tesla’s internal comparison chart showing the flagship Model S and hotly-anticipated Model 3 side-by-side leaked onto the internet last week, spilling the beans on how Elon Musk plans to “anti-sell” his newest vehicle in favor of a pricier, more luxurious option. But a group of Reddit users noticed that some parts of the chart didn’t really add up — mainly because Tesla was leaving out a lot of the nitty-gritty price details.
Reddit user NoVA_Traveler took the original chart, which listed price points, features, and specifications, and added in the pricing information that Tesla doesn’t want you to see. They posted it to the r/TeslaMotors forum on Tuesday night, and the comments section lit up, pointing to other times Tesla has been a little sketchy with its marketing plans.
The core of the conflict is this: Tesla wants to push buyers away from the new Model 3 and toward the existing Model S, which is more expensive and helps the company make more money. The rationale, it says, is that getting rich customers (or those right on the line between an upgraded Model 3 and a base Model S) to shell out more for a Model S gives Tesla more money to funnel into mass producing the Model 3, upgrading the Gigafactories, changing the market for electric vehicles and general saving the world. But the original chart really took liberties in making the pricey Model S look way better than the three, while listing the lowest possible price point. Sure, the Model S starts at $69,500, but as soon as you start adding all the other features on the list (which it doesn’t price), it skyrockets. The Model 3 has far fewer options, but it’s still far more comparable to a base-line Model S that the Tesla chart makes it out to be. Check it out:
Speed, as well, is huge misdirection. The original chart, right under the price, matched up a 5.6 second 0-60 for the Model 3 with the Model S’s insane 2.3 second 0-60. But you can’t do 0-60 in 2.3 seconds in a base level Model S — you need to shell out for the P100D, which costs over $130,000.
And the chart sorta opened the floodgates: u/crayfisher pointed out that this isn’t the first time Tesla has been a bit misleading about what their systems can do for what price.
“Tesla has a long, strange history of white lies and misrepresentation,” Crayfisher wrote, pointing to a laundry list of complaints like misleading prices, range estimates, battery swap schemes, “demo car” sales, “free upgrades,” and Elon Musk’s extremely patronizing attempts to quell union organization. “Seems like [Musk] only tells lies that he knows will be easily sold, or easily forgiven by most.” But as Crayfisher noted, Tesla fans still think Musk’s shadiness is for a good cause.
“Do the ends justify the means? In this case, I think they might,” he wrote. “Tesla is, after all, dependent on Model S/X cash flows. Still, the blatant lies are a bit weird, maybe someone should ask him to cut it out.”