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Buy Model S, lease the battery pack?


I just wonder if Tesla could do a bit like "lease Roadster, buy Model S" kind of deal with future better battery packs. I really would like to have Model S, but it doesn't have the range I need. However I believe in very close future you can have same (physical) size battery pack as 300 mile version that has 500 mile or bigger range. So I would not like to buy a expensive battery pack when I know I would need to replace it with better one soon and then pay same amount of money again, but I would like to have my EV ASAP.

So as solution for longer range trips I would need to use other methods of traveling, but I would have Model S for shorter trips at home and I could swap to better battery when it comes available by ending a lease of the battery pack and just installing a new one. If it has good enough range buy it instead of lease.

Car itself would be a bit cheaper, lease would be for battery pack (which needs to be replaced eventually anyway). Maybe even creating more market that way by lowering the initial cost of the car.

Does that make any sense?

1. Elon has said that the battery should last about twice as long as the warranty.

2. In the Roadster thread there is an owner who has put 200,000 hard kilomteres (including lots of racing) on his car and the capacity has only dropped 30%. That's really a worst-case scenario. The Model S has an improved battery cooling system and so should last much longer than the Roadster battery.

3. It's speculated that if battery cost continues to drop at 8% per year, in eight years a replacement battery should be much less expensive (or conversely have much greater range).

The one thing I've learned from my 12 years of Prius ownership is that the battery is a non-issue.

I don't think lease companies care about the battery. They care about demand and resale value. The battery could explode in 6 years as far as they are concerned. As long as the car makes it though the 3 year lease and someone buys the car after that for a price they like.

Now those other details mentioned are important for the resale value... I just don't think the lease company will try to calculate it. They will wait and use real data.


No doubt. Probably the best kind of lease is the kind where you purchase the car for $1 at the end of the term. Then you check whether that is cheaper than just buying it outright. If you can write the Model S off for business, then there's no question that the lease is better because it eliminates all the arguments from the tax man.

Renault, as you know, is doing exactly that. The small detail is that the ZOE ev costs 20,000 euro (before 5000 tax subsidy in france). So a car WITHOUT the batteries, just with the infinitely more simple electric motor and none of the engine, transmission, exhaust or emission equipment, costs as much as well-equipped Golf, a much larger car that even comes with an engine and all the rest. So what they are doing is transferring the cost of the 22 kWh battery to the vehicle itself, and then leasing the battery for 80 euros/month for 3 years, limited to 12 500 km per year. Somebody has to pay for the battery, and it won't be renault, sacrificing their profits.

In a distant future I can imagine tesla and other companies offering just the vehicle, without the battery, and the customer having a choice to buy OR lease a battery from a third party that specializes in just batteries. That way there can be many different kinds of batteries, using different chemistries, different packaging, offering different levels of compromise between range and power/charge times. Second-hand market for batteries would be huge, offering flexibility and lower prices.

Good imagining! +1

For Australia, where car prices generally are double those in the USA, largely due to value added taxes, the lower the value the lower the tax. In our special case, i have written to George asking for exactly this (leasing) scenario. In the alternative, given that there are a choice of three batteries, if the battery is sold as an aftermarket or separate item on a separate invoice, this too would make the car considerably cheaper here. The cars could be shipped batteryless, and the batteries fitted in Australia, for customs purposes.
There is precedent with the Better Place model, already in our country. I am sure a plan can be worked out which will be a win-win for us, the mug client, and Tesla.


I'm keen on a leasing arrangement as well but for a different reason. Unfortunately when I've investigated the value added tax - including luxury car tax - it doesn't even come close to the doubling or tripling of prices that we see here. We commonly forget that the US price excludes local taxes - so GST has to be ignored. On the >$200k that the roadster costs here, about $30k is tax. (inc LCT)

This makes pricing from BMW and Porsche that are more than 2x the US price a bit rich.

I'd like to see the battery leased so that the whole vehicle can drop below the LCT threshold - taking a huge chunk out of the price and simultaneously allowing me to claim the full cost of the car when I use it for work.

Currently you can only depreciate and claim up to around $75k of the model s for business use, despite the fact that in an ICE environment you can also claim fuel and service costs.

During the last earnings call Elon mentioned that he was in general in favor of offering car leasing options. I believe he referenced the business model used by Solar City that relies on leasing arrangements. However, he pointed out that currently he had over 10,000 people willing to buy the car without the inducement provided by leasing so there was no immediate need to pursue leasing agreements. This was in the context of leasing the entire car, but obviously the same rationale would apply to leasing just the batteries. So from this I gather that any leasing would occur down the road when Tesla emerges from the red.


Mark E- please write to George B direct. The more letters he gets the more there is likely to be consideration of the matter. I would not rely on him reading these posts, or on having Jay pass messages back to the factory. These is enough time for us right hand drivers to get our point across before signing time.

maybe buy the 40kwh model s, and tesla allows individuals to "rent" a higher capacity battey for extended road trips? This way you are not destroying your "daily" battery by supercharging it

@SMOP, TM abandoned the quick swap option for batteries. It can be swapped they said, rather quickly, but they are not putting the infrastructure to do so anymore. They focus is on the Super Charging network instead.

@BYT, TM abandoned the quick swap option for batteries

Is that final? I thought they had an idea of making this as option in Tesla stores. No swap-stations, but just what SMOP said, rent a bigger battery from a store (where swapping is done) for long range road trips, then put your own back into car after road trip is finished.

Even with Super Charging infrastructure I think that could be useful.

@Timo, I don't want to speculate that it was final, but at the Test Drive event in Fremont the end of June, I asked about this specifically and I was given the "impression" very strongly, that they were moving away from this idea completely. They said the system can still be swapped relatively quickly, but would be reserved for replacing packs that died or didn't have the capacity needed anymore vs. a swap for the reason of a temporary bump of range for a while.

"Car lease option not available until Spring/Summer 2013"

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