Purchasing your first electric car can be a bit of a daunting task. There are many factors to consider before you even start looking at an EV. Among EV manufacturers, there is one that has been in the public consciousness since the electric car started gaining prominence. Tesla has been one of the top manufacturers of electric vehicles for quite some time, but some of its offerings are well outside the price range of your average consumer. Is there an affordable Tesla? Let’s look at the current offerings from the EV manufacturer, how they do on the used market, and which is ultimately the cheapest tesla available for purchasing. The manufacturer has a good assortment of models, but some clock in at far lower retail prices than expected.
Currently Available Tesla Models
|Feature||Model S||Model 3||Model X||Model Y|
|Drivetrain||All-wheel Drive||All-wheel Drive||All-wheel Drive||All-wheel Drive|
|Range||405 miles||272 miles||351 miles||283 miles|
|Seating||5||5||5 to 7||5|
|Charger Accepted||Type 2||Type 2||Type 2||Type 2|
|Cargo Capacity||25 cubic feet||23 cubic feet||15 to 37 cubic feet||30 cubic feet|
Which is the Cheapest Tesla?
Elon Musk’s automotive company has become synonymous with electric vehicles, and there is a wide gamut of models. Going off just the base retail price, the Model 3 comes out as the cheapest EV on sale from Tesla.
The Model S sits as an analog to the luxury cars on the market, with a fit and finish more befitting of a high-end Mercedes or Jaguar. Therefore, the price is expectedly a rather steep $94,990. This places it well out of the price range of many households looking to switch to a more eco-friendly daily driver. Likewise, its SUV counterpart, the Model X, also goes for a rather steep $109,990.
That leaves the Model 3 and Model Y, which both serve as more budget-conscious entry-level EVs for the discerning consumer. The Model Y fits a similar niche as the Model X but is a good bit smaller. This crossover SUV runs for $54,990, placing it well within the realm of purchase for many households. Tesla’s Model 3 is the cheapest overall, with a retail price of $42,990.
Is Cheaper Better?
Tesla, like many other automotive manufacturers, has a wide range of models to choose from. As such, it can be rather disheartening to think of what you might miss out on when selecting a vehicle. Rest assured, the advances in technology have made the actual core components of an EV, the drivetrains and batteries, roughly equal to vehicles across all price ranges.
The Model 3 and Model Y may not be the fanciest of the Teslas, but they are dependable vehicles with a proven track record. The only consideration one might need to pay attention to when purchasing even the lower-end Teslas is manufacturer recalls. Tesla has had its share in recent years, but that can be part and parcel of just owning a new car with cutting-edge technology.
Used Tesla Values
Tesla EVs hold their value remarkably well, with the Model 3 having a Kelley Blue Book value of $35,515 for an excellent condition 2019 version of the vehicle. This holds across the board for all Tesla models with a reduction of around 18% on MSRP. As such, the same observations held for newly manufactured vehicles can also be applied to those on the used market.
Market values are going to, of course, vary depending on your locality, but you should expect to see around a 10-18% price reduction nationwide when searching for a pre-owned Tesla.
Older Teslas, like the 2013 Model S, fetch a much lower premium for a used vehicle, with a starting price of $26,399. When purchasing an EV more than a decade old, there are other considerations that come to mind like the overall condition of the vehicle, the life of the battery’s cells, and other maintenance needed for vital systems to continue optimal function.
Things to Keep in Mind When Purchasing a Used EV
There is nothing wrong with purchasing a pre-owned vehicle. However, much like their internal combustion engine counterparts, there are some criteria you should keep in mind when purchasing a used EV.
After selecting a vehicle, finding a qualified vehicle inspector who can go over the finer details of the vehicle is paramount. It also is of significant benefit to you to get the battery checked by an authorized EV mechanic or a brand dealership with an equivalent service department. Most systems on an EV require overall less maintenance than an internal combustion vehicle, but there are some key things to keep in mind.
First, the battery is the component with the most limited lifespan. Older vehicles certainly don’t benefit from the greater advances in technology which have given range and longevity to EVs. For example, you might find a great deal on an EV, like an older Model S, but the price of a replacement battery pack can very well run the cost of the vehicle up to nearly retail for a newly manufactured car. Brakes and tires are both easily sorted, but the actual lifespan of the drivetrain is also something to consider.
Used EVs can be a great alternative to newly purchased vehicles, but it is important that you know what to look for when considering this option.
Which Tesla is Best for You?
Picking a new vehicle is rarely a simple task. You’ll often have to consider what the needs of your household are versus the capabilities of the vehicles in your actual price range. Budget-minded households will probably be best off with the Model 3 or the Model Y.
Both vehicles have a lower overall price ceiling for newly manufactured vehicles and present a good value in terms of range and capability. This also comes with the knowledge that a Tesla owner can take full advantage of the wide charging network that Tesla provides around the country.
For those with higher budgets, the Model S and Model X may very well be worth a look. Though, all said it is tough to recommend the higher priced Tesla EVs when the capabilities of the vehicles in terms of range and storage capacity are roughly the same. It all comes down to what you consider an acceptable level of fit and finish for the interior of the vehicle.
All things considered, the Model 3 and Model Y present great value for what they have and are currently the cheapest Tesla models available, both new and secondhand. You get a stellar range, high performance, and a lot of cargo space. Add to that the ability to use Tesla’s wide network of chargers and support, and you’ve got quite an enticing package.
Breaking EV News
June 8, 2023 — Look out, Tesla owners. Soon, there will be new competition for spots at your favorite Tesla charging station.
Starting in 2024, Ford and General Motors (GM) EV owners will be able to use adaptors to charge at 12,000 Tesla Superchargers. And both industry giants will feature Tesla’s North American Charging Standard connector on their EVs starting in 2025.
According to Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, “Not only will [this collaboration] help make the transition to electric vehicles more seamless for our customers, but it could help move the industry toward a single North American charging standard.”
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Valeriya Zankovych/Shutterstock.com.