Teslas are the newest, spiffiest electric vehicles on the block. The first models were priced as luxury vehicles, but Elon Musk promised to make an EV affordable for most Americans by rolling out the Model 3 at an advertised price below $35,000. There is more to the price, however, as we’ll explain.
Musk’s fancier models will cost you a pretty penny — up to $250,000 — along with Tesla’s upgrades. Availability and price depend on the model and the trim you choose. For the whole picture, keep reading.
How much does each new Tesla model cost?
In order of price, Tesla offers four consumer car models: 3, S, X and the upcoming second-generation Roadster, which you can reserve now. It speaks to company founder Elon Musk’s sense of humor that if you put the first models in the order they were produced you get “S3X.”
*It’s important to note that the advertised prices don’t include a $1,200 destination and document fee, and they do include a $7,500 federal tax incentive and an estimated savings in gas over five years. Neither price includes taxes or registration fees.
What about the tax credit?
Time is running out on the full $7,500 federal tax credit available to the first 200,000 people who buy a new Tesla model. Because Tesla reached that point in July, the tax credit is being phased out and will end in 2019, barring an extension by Congress. Customers need to have their new car delivered on or before Dec. 31, 2018 to get the full amount of the credit.
Customers who have their Teslas delivered in the first half of 2019, between Jan. 1 and June 30, get half of the tax credit amount, $3,750. Those with vehicles delivered in the second half of the year, July 1 to Dec. 31 get half of that, $1,875. In 2020, there is no scheduled tax credit.
The good news? There are state tax credits you may be able to use for your new Tesla. The following states and Washington D.C. offer incentives like tax credits, tax exemptions and reduced rates for EV charging: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
How much does a Model 3 cost?
The Model 3 is Tesla’s least expensive car. You may be able to drive away in one for a minimum of $47,200. If that amount surprises you, then you know the Model 3 is often highlighted as costing less than $35,000. So why the discrepancy?
The quoted $34,200 price tag is after estimated savings, including the expiring $7,500 federal tax credit and the fuel savings you would have over five years if you owned a gasoline-powered car. Add those back in and you get to the sticker price of $46,000. Then, tack on Tesla’s standard $1,200 delivery and document fee to get a price of $47,200, not including tax and registration fees.
How to read the trim levels
The Model 3 trims are named in a self-explanatory way, but the trims for the next two models are named with numbers and letters that may need clarification. The trim levels for the Model S and X are named with numbers and the letters “P” and “D.” The number is the size of the battery — how many kilowatt hours it can hold. “P” stands for performance model and it’s the top, most expensive trim. “D” stands for dual drive, meaning the car is all-wheel drive. The higher the number, the farther you can go on a single charge. The 75D is the lowest trim level and the least expensive, followed by 100D and then P100D.
How much does a Model S cost?
The sticker price for the 75D trim of a Model S is $78,000. For a greater driving range by about 76 miles, the 100D trim comes in at a $96,000 sticker price. And for a greater performance, the P100D goes from zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds, a 64% faster acceleration for $39,000 more than the 100D.
How much does a Model X cost?
While models 3 and S are sedans, the Model X is an SUV with optional third-row seating. The lowest trim, the 75D, has an $84,000 sticker price. The next trim up, the 100D, has a sticker price of $99,000 and will get you 58 miles more in driving range. The top trim P100D for $140,000 will get you from zero to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, instead of 4.7 seconds that the 100D achieves.
How much does a Tesla Roadster cost?
The most expensive Tesla model is the second-generation Roadster. A Founders Series Roadster is $250,000; although you could get a base Roadster for $200,000. Given the $50,000 price difference between the Founders Series Roadster and the base Roadster, which is enough to buy a whole other Tesla, the Founders Series Roadster has got to offer something special — and it does. You can go from zero to 60 in 1.9 seconds and from zero to 100 in 4.2 seconds, which is pretty dang quick acceleration.
Can you negotiate?
Most car brands let you negotiate on prices. We even wrote about how to negotiate a car price. With Tesla, however, there is no price negotiation. James Wolf, a senior engineer at LendingTree, the parent company of MagnifyMoney, bought his Model 3 in October 2018. He explained, “There is no negotiation when it comes to the price, only your options [can] adjust the price.”
There are no back-and-forth, tit for tat price negotiations on a new Tesla. The price is the price, take it or leave it. The only negotiation on a new Tesla is the one you may have with yourself and your budget: there are plenty of drool-worthy option upgrades, the cheapest of which adds a cool $1,000 to the price tag. More on that later.
Tesla fees and options
As with any car purchase, there will be unavoidable fees and some enticing options you could add to the vehicle. Both will increase the final price.
Can you avoid the destination and document fees?
No. Of the $1,200 fee, $1,000 is the delivery fee, which is charged in the U.S. and Canada regardless of delivery method or location, even if you pick it up hot from the factory floor. Why? It’s government-mandated. The delivery fee, also known as the destination charge, has to be separate from the MSRP and clearly disclosed. The remaining $200 is the document fee.
How much do options cost?
The least expensive upgrade is getting a black and white interior in a Model 3, rather than the all black. The most expensive is adding autopilot after you buy the car for $7,000, instead of ordering it for $5,000 when you get the car new.
**For Models S and X the interior options of Black and White, and Cream are available for purchase on the two lower trims only. The Black and White option is available for no up-charge on the top trim, but the Cream is not available on the top trim.
How much is tax?
Property tax. Vehicle property tax depends on your state and your county or city of residence. It varies pretty wildly, so check your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website for more information.
Sales tax. If you’re lucky enough to live in state without sales tax (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, Oregon, New Hampshire), you may not have to pay taxes on the car’s purchase.
For the rest of the country, state sales tax applies. You may also have local sales taxes to contend with. The highest average combined state and local sales tax rate is in Tennessee at 9.46% as of July 2018. The lowest is Alaska at 1.43%. And the average in California is 8.55%.
Is tax included in the final amount I pay for the Tesla? If you live in a state where Tesla has a sales license, the applicable taxes you’ll have to pay will be included in your total. If you live in a state where Tesla does not have a sales license, taxes will not be included in the total, but you will have to pay them when you register the car in your state.
Do I have to pay California sales tax? If you pick the car up in California and you live in a different state where Tesla does not have a sales license, Tesla, by law, has to charge California sales tax. For further information on this, see a tax professional or talk to a Tesla representative.
Where does Tesla have a sales license? Tesla has a sales license to directly sell vehicles in about half of U.S. states. Different states have different automotive sales laws. You could see a thread on the Tesla Motors Club website with a map on Tesla sales licensure.
Financing a Tesla
If you’re not paying cash, you may be able to get a loan through Tesla or another lender. It does not hurt your credit to apply to multiple lenders any more than it does to apply to one lender, as long as you do so within a 14-day window. It’s always good idea to shop around for a car loan just as you would for the car itself — only talking to one lender is one of the common mistakes people make when they need an auto loan.
Tesla financing and leasing. Once you create a Tesla account, which you may do here, you can submit a credit application online and hear back from Tesla within 48 hours. Tesla financing is only available in these states: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington.
Financing with your own lender. If you have your own lender, you’ll need to provide the name of the lender, the exact dollar amount of the loan and the lender’s address and phone number to Tesla. In turn, the lender will want the VIN, which you can find in your Tesla account.
How much does a used Tesla cost?
Despite it being a relatively new car company, there are used Teslas available for sale. Some models are almost 10 years old, as the first generation Roadster came out in 2008. It’s these older models that are the least expensive Teslas you’ll find, priced in the upper $30,000 range. Tesla itself offers used models that passed a rigorous inspection and come with a warranty. You can also find used Teslas for sale off third-party car buying sites, such as AutoTempest and CarGurus.
Because they are used, you won’t have to pay the $1,000 destination fee, which only applies to new cars; unless, of course, you’re getting the car shipped to you specially. If you buy the car from a dealership rather than a private person, you will still face all of the typical dealer fees. And no matter how you buy the car, you’ll need to pay the appropriate taxes.
The bottom line
The least expensive new Tesla will cost you $47,200 before taxes and before any available tax credits. You can’t negotiate on the price of a Tesla, but you can pick and choose options that suit you. If you’d like to see what else is out there without leaving your couch, you could look at the best online car buying sites for 2018.
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