The Tesla Model 3 carries a much-lauded, mid-range $35,000 price tag, but the true price of the car figures to be much, much higher for many consumers — and this handy online tool could help prospective buyers figure it out.
After the Model 3’s launch, Tesla wasn’t necessarily deceptive about the price, but it’s still marketing the mid-range sedan as an “affordable” car, despite the hefty price tag for additional features. Everything from Autopilot hardware to a different paint job costs extra money, but, fortunately, on Wednesday, Teslanomics released a handy calculator to quickly add up what the ideal configuration is going to cost.
We’ve known about this “catch” to the $35,000 starting price for a while, even if it’s not emphasized in Tesla’s showroom charts. Paying for premium is always going to make the price go up, but it’s definitely worth noting that if you want the features Tesla advertises with — full self-driving, luxury interior, flashy colors — you’re going to have to pay quite a bit more than the hyped-up low price. And even if you’re not worried about those extra features, changing tax credits could also shift the cost upward on even the most basic model.
As The Next Web notes, Tesla already has a price calculator on its site. Still, it appears to only be accessible after you’ve put down a (refundable) $1,000 reservation fee for the car. Tesla’s calculator also, crucially, doesn’t take into account the unique tax credits in different regions and countries, making the Teslanomics calculator a much better resource for casual fans who want to check out how much a slick new Model 3 will cost. Spoilers: It’s a lot.
Ben Sullivan, the blogger who runs Teslanomics, also published a video explaining a bit more about how the tool works. He used data from InsideEVs that analyzed Model S and X sales over the past few years to get a good idea as to how many Model 3 cars the company might deliver and when. The delivery schedule could also influence the price, as later-produced cars may miss out on the federal tax credit after Tesla hits its 200,000th car delivered.
In the U.S., when an electric vehicle maker hits 200,000 cars, federal tax credits start to go away, as they are first cut to 50 percent and then, eventually, zero. Sullivan predicts Tesla will hit that 200,000 mark in the fourth quarter of 2017 — remember, that number includes Model S and X sales. Considering the wait time for a Tesla Model 3 purchased today is close to 18 months, if you’re being realistic you should select 2018Q4 from the menu and see what that says.
To give it a shot, I adjusted my ideal configuration above (metallic blue, sport rims, full self-driving, long range) for a realistic delivery estimate, and, yup, I’m only getting half the federal tax credit.
All told, I’m paying $54,250. Of course, this is an estimate, but one backed up with real data, and it’s a number comparable to most mid-range luxury sedans.
Here’s Sullivan explaining more of his methodology as well, and the tool itself is definitely worth playing around with.