Skip to content

Electric Lightning

Posted in Posts, and Syllabus Schedule

The seemingly impossible has just occurred Tesla’s Model S has in the first three months of 2013 has managed to get more registrations then BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. In the first quarter, the BMW Seven Series registered 2,338, the S-Class saw 3,077, and the Audi A8 pulled up the rear with 1,462 registered. At the same time, the Tesla Model S pulled in a whopping 4,750 new registrations, beating all three German giants. Sure the Model S is a completely different type of car that is prone to registration spikes and has none of the internal conflict the big 3 Germans face. Additionally, Tesla buyers get a huge $7,500 tax cut which greatly adds incentive to choose the car over competitors. However, Tesla faces huge barriers to getting cars to consumers due to weird distribution laws and the company’s refusal to set up independent dealers. At the same time, it is an electric car with a limited range and a lack of infrastructure to support long distance travel even between major metropolitan areas. One journalist, who reviewed the car, could not make it to Boston from D.C. Despite the obvious variable factors these Q1 numbers prove one thing Tesla can officially hang with the big boys.

Tesla Model S



  1. oliver

    The Model S has a base price of $62,400 and that will get you a range of about 230 miles at a constant 55mph. Mr. Paul Traub at the Detroit branch of the Chicago Fed said that the economics of alternative energy don’t make good sense. A Mercedes-Benz E350 costs $51,900 and has the same 302 hp that you would get with the base Model S. So you have a surplus of about $10,000. Supposing gas is $3.70 per gallon and the Mercedes averages 25 mpg, you could get 67,500 miles. I’ve heard somewhere that the average driver drives 13,000 miles in a year, so it could be as much as 5 years worth of transport costs if you just bought a Mercedes.

    May 14, 2013
  2. Of course the Mercedes doesn’t have the low-end torque of an electric, nor the cachet. A better comparison is probably a “loaded” vehicle – I suspect neither company sells many “base” models. A quick check of “local” inventory shows you’re paying closer to $63,000 for an E-class, but when I put a few nice options on a Tesla (12-way leather seats, panoramic roof, etc) it jumps to about $80,000. The performance model adds much more to that – decked out, it comes to $116,000. (Thanks to

    Let’s take the base price. Net of the $7500 tax incentive, the difference is a smaller $4,000. Now assuming almost free mileage for a Model S (you work at a company that has a charging station, gratis) and the 13,000 miles you use, and your 25/gal figure, you buy 520 gallons of gas per year. (Does an E-class take premium gas? – let me assume yes and use $4/gal.) So you spend $2,000 per year on gas. Eventually it pays off, but you really need gas at $8/gallon for fuel efficiency to start driving vehicle choice.

    May 15, 2013
  3. gradyb13

    The other worry that I have regards reliability. No, the Tesla Model S isn’t the disaster that Fisker’s Karma was (it couldn’t be), but with all of its new technology, one has to wonder how reliable the cars will be and also how expensive they will be to repair. How many car mechanics are there in the United States who know how to work on these sorts of cars?

    May 15, 2013
  4. tyler

    While I agree that these cars may not be economically viable now, I see them as an investment for the future. One day the oil will run dry. When that happens the infastructure created around these cars, and the cars themselves will be at a distinct advantage. Companies like Tesla, with experience in the field will use their experience to rake in huge profits and provide vehicles we will need.

    May 17, 2013

Comments are closed.