The Tesla Model 3 Most People Want Will Cost $890 A Month


Ben Sullins of Teslanomics has a good thing going on. A few weeks ago, he put up an online cost estimator that allowed people to see how much the Tesla Model 3 equipped the way they want it will cost. Incredibly, more than 100,000 people used the calculator, which provided Sullins with lots of valuable data. Sifting through the numbers, several trends became clear — some of them expected, some of them not.

Before jumping in, note that this was not a scientifically sound “survey.” Ben used data from what people put into a Tesla Model 3 price calculator, but those people could have repeatedly played with different options just for fun, or might have completed it without taking certain options seriously, and or may have just run through it all to see what’s included. How many of them were genuinely pricing out the car they wanted? And how many of them did that but also put in various other options they wouldn’t actually choose just to understand the variation? Anyway, on to the results Ben pulled out …

Assuming the results were actually representative (an assumption you probably don’t want to make), the takeaway from the data is that prospective Model 3 owners seem to want to keep the initial cost of their cars down. While 60% say they want the premium interior package — a $5,500 option that includes heated seats, two rear USBs, wood decor, 12-way power adjustable seats, premium audio system, tinted glass roof, auto dimming and heated side mirrors, LED fog lamps, and a center console with storage for docking two smartphones — they are reluctant to pay the price with several other available options.

Fully one half indicated they are fine with basic black paint. All other colors cost an extra $1,000. They are also happy with the standard alloy wheels rather than spending $1,500 more for the optional sport wheels. The aero wheels have not won much praise. They look rather low budget for such a groundbreaking new car. It could be a matter of money or it could be that the Model 3 has longer range with the standard wheels.

A big surprise is that 50% of buyers didn’t spend the money for Enhanced Autopilot ($5,000 extra) or full autonomous driving capability (for an additional $3,000) in the simulator. And half of respondents say they are perfectly content with the 220 miles of range available from the standard battery rather than spending $9,000 for the extended-range version with a larger battery.

Sullins added up all the numbers, estimated the cost of electricity for a month of driving, assumed a $5,000 down payment and a loan at 4.5%, added $120 a month for insurance and came up with a total cost for a Model 3 equipped the way most drivers like it of $890 a month. Watch the video for more details.

Keep in mind that this estimate does not include options that are not yet available such as dual motors and air suspension, both of which will add significantly to the price. Is $890 a month too much for a so-called “affordable” midsize electric car? If it’s the car you want and the money fits your budget, no problem. But for many, almost $900 a month for a car — any car — is a lot of cashola. Is the Model 3 affordable? Only you can answer that question.

Model 3 option pricing via CleanTechnica.

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • Oollyoumn

    That is more than what I am willing to pay for transportation. I realized that to many a car is more than transportation, but not to me. I can afford that monthly payment, and can afford to pay cash for any car Tesla makes, but transportation is not worth that much to me.

    • Steve Hanley

      I rather agree with you, which may seem odd for a fellow who writes about cars for a living. But there are a lot of things that make for a rich and full life and few of them involve paying for cars.

      • Oollyoumn

        If this was the only EV option one could make an argument for paying this amount. But, when other EVs can be leased in the $200/mo range, and even sometimes under $100/mo, there are much better environmental options. With the money not spent on a Tesla I installed 42 solar panels and went 100% fossil fuel free on a net basis, running 2 much less expensive plug-in vehicles, 99% plus charged at home.

  • Assume $600/mo. for a $30K car, plus another $100 for insurance and another $100 for gas (easily) and you’re at $800/mo. If you drive a little further, have a heavier foot, or buy a car with crappy mileage, you’re already at $890/mo. That Tesla seems rather on the money, to me- and you know I’m no fanboy, so …