Photo By Christof Demont-Heinrich

The myth of the ‘affordable’ Tesla

The Model S is a great car — I sure wish I had one — but I, like the vast majority of Americans, cannot afford one.

editors-blog-entry3I’m a huge fan of Tesla, and I am very happy for all Tesla owners out there — especially those powering their Teslas with home solar.

But can we stop with the ridiculous claim of a Tesla Model S being anything other than WAY too expensive for anyone with a household income of fewer than six figures, and, realistically, in 99 percent of cases, anyone with a household income of less than $200,000 per year!

I’m sure someone will chime in with their Tesla household income exception here. In fact, I’m happy to hear about your exception. This, because I — with a household income of $65,000 (the myth of the “overpaid” university professor is another pervasive, but also false, American myth), according to a recent survey, make far less than the “typical” “affluent” EV owner.

But exceptions aside, there’s also an idea — false! — out there, being pushed by some EV advocates, that the Model S is a “bargain”.

A bargain compared to WHAT?

Compared to a Mercedes S class, or a BMW 7 series? Ok, maybe.

Compared to a 20-year-old Acura Integra or a 20-year-old Toyota Camry — which I was driving before I leased a 2014 Nissan LEAF in February of 2014?

Not so much. Actually, not even close!

Driving a Model S for ‘free’?
The myth of the affordable Tesla Model S reaches its most absurd proportions in an article ‘How to drive a Tesla Model S for free for 18 months’ published earlier this year in GreenCarReports.Com. In it, a Tesla owner, identified as “LeonardV”, claims that, with the help of free EV charging, he’s driving a Tesla for free.

Preposterous, disingenous, and, frankly, maddening!

This guy — most likely a techie who earns in excess of $250,000 per year, has got the dough, at least $70,000 is needed, to plop down on a Tesla.

And he’s got the audacity to claim it’s “free”!?


I wrote a blog entry — ‘I’m driving a Nissan LEAF almost for free’ — not too long ago in which I calculated that, across two years, I will spend $4,000 out of pocket to run my 2014 Nissan LEAF.

This, thanks to: a) my 5.6 kW home solar system, which allows me to charge for “free”, but which importantly ALSO cost me $8,500 out of pocket in 2010; c) a $3,000 Colorado State Tax Credit for EVs; d) a $7,500 Federal Tax Credit, which was pocketed by Nissan because I leased, but which also brought my monthly lease payments down to a very reasonable $279 per month (I put $1,999 down up front, but this included the first month’s lease payment).

No one gets into a Tesla right now without a hefty annual household income and/or hefty savings they’ve accrued to plop down on said Tesla.

That’s a pretty damn good deal — $4,000, in total, to run a brand new electric car across two years. In fact, it’s less than it would cost me to buy a “POS” used car and maintain it, and gas it up, across 24 months.

An affront to middle income EV advocates?
But it sure as heck is not “free”!

So, enough with the Tesla is a “bargain” or that you can run a Model S for “free” stuff already!

No one gets into a Tesla right now without a hefty annual household income and/or hefty savings they’ve accrued to plop down on said Tesla.

To pretend otherwise is an affront to the rest of us EV advocates, many of whom, contrary to the stereotype, are NOT rich.

The false claims of Tesla Model S “affordability”  — 90 percent of us cannot realistically afford even a used Model S — also does a profound disservice to the vast majority of Americans, many of whom might be interested in buying or leasing an EV, but who are going to be — for sure — turned off by extravagant, and false, claims of Tesla “affordability”, or, even more outrageous, that one can drive a Tesla for free.

Nope, not even close, not even close.

My brother’s Tesla Model S parked in front of my house. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]