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Total Cost of Ownership

Does anyone have any good estimate of what they might think the resale value might be after 5 years? 10 years? I'm trying to figure out total operating costs and that would help. Has anyone contacted any insurance company that has been able to provide an insurance quote for the Model S? Also, based on experiences with the Roadster, what have maintenance and repair costs been yearly thus far? Thanks.

I asked my agent (Farmers) about this 6 months ago, and his answer was the industry needs a few years post release in order to determine what the cost of repair and potential for damage is in the real world. Apparently this is part of their normal underwriting process. He said for the first few years, insurance premiums would be comperable to other vehicles in that price range.

"for the first few years, insurance premiums would be comperable to other vehicles in that price range."

Model S owners will probably benefit from this--while I expect that our maintenance repairs will be rarer and therefore less costly than an ICE vehicle's, our accident repairs will be more costly because of the aluminum frame and panels. Insurers cover accident repairs, so they come out on the short end of that assumption.

perhaps offset by reduced fatalities (safety features and lack of flammable fuel)? Re which, note the thread posting just up:
Camero 2012 just got all 5s.


I can give you some thoughts on other operating costs. Assume 12 to 15K per year in mileage. Assume electricity 1/6th cost of fuel at $4.00/mile.

For example I have a 13 year old car, paid 45K back in 98, gets 17.4 MPG. Assuming average price of $4.00/gal for the NEXT 13 years, I would spend 45K in fuel plus oil, filters etc.

Point is that an ICE has the potential these days by the end of it's usefull life of costing as much in gas as it does to purchase the car.

Now, assume gas continues to go up. 10 years from now?. 4 bucks?. Hmmm... Guessing no. Now assume solar, wind, etc. Electricity will rise, but not as fast as gasolene. Curretly 1/6th, and as gas rises, could fall to 1/8th, 1/10th etc.

I'm betting on rising gas prices along the historical curve, and economies of scale on the renewable energy front. Getting an electric car because I can't afford not to.

A further point: the physical depreciation rate on a Model S should be much lower than in a comparable ICE vehicle. There are simply fewer parts that are subject to wear-and-tear: pumps, valves, pistons, bearings, etc. The one obvious exception is the battery; a reasonable estimate would be to depreciate the battery fully over 10 years. OTOH, the replacement cost of the battery 10 years from now is likely to be much lower, and the battery much more capable.

In parts of western WA, EV is already 10% of gas.

Heh. You typo'd "$4.00/mile" (instead of gallon). That would be an Abrams M1 model, I assume? ;)

Here, gas is >$5/gal, and power is ~7¢/kwh, the cost ratio works out to 0.03¢/mi for electricity, 0.287¢/mi for gas, for a ratio of about 10.4%.

The HUGE item that hasn't been mentioned is the cost of battery replacement. Hopefully, 8 or 10 years from now, batteries will be both 1) available and 2) cheap. If one had to pay at current prices,
you might want to sit the car aside until prices come down - right now it looks as though the retail replacement cost of the 300 mile battery pack is roughly $35,000 to $40,000. Ouch!

I'm buying the 160 and maybe replace it with a higher volume battery in the future when I am forced to.

I think you can prepay the replacement for $12K up front. Or maybe that was a Roadster program?

@Brian H: that was/is a Roadster program, although there might be something similar for the Model S. We'll have to wait and see. Tricky to evaluate, though; suppose 8 years ago you had bought "PC insurance" that would replace your then-current PC with a new one that had identical capabilities. Heh.

to stretch that comparison, imagine you paid $300 extra for a $2000 laptop 7 years ago, and now you can pull that warranty to have your battery cells replaced with new ones.

Hmm, VolkerP, I'm not sure that's as good a comparison; do you really think that the chassis/PEM/components of the Model S are going to be laughably obsolete in 7 years? I sure hope not!

Yep, you'll be driving a quaint antique by then!


The comparison laptop-car limps in an important aspect: Your basic requirements of what your car should be able to do in 7 years won't change very much. Perhaps different commuting distance (job/move) or more kids to haul. Basically, the car won't lose its ability to do what a car is supposed to do in 7 years, so it keeps its value!

Your requirements for your laptop in 7 years could be to run the software available in 7 years and that might pose a big problem, making the hardware obsolete. Buying new batteries is wasted money.

If, however, you chose to stick to the same OS and same programs, a replacement battery for your laptop is a good idea and makes it a useful device for another period of time.

Software companies update software to make money, if the hardware was reliable and the software did all that you wanted then nobody would upgrade. If you have a solid state drive with very high reliability and no other moving parts then the OS you have in your Model S should be fine for years to come. The processor in your iPhone is faster then what the first mission to the moon lander had in it, but that computer still got the lander to the moon. Your just trying to drive to work or your corner store so you should be good... :)

No, that computer did not get the lander to the moon. It was too slow to handle the interrupt rate (all the sensors were banging on it), and Armstrong had to land manually.

Yeah, space is a nasty environment for modern electronics. The old joke about glitches from cosmic rays is no joke beyond the magnetosphere! Not to mention inside the Van Allen belt. Hardened and shielded and quadruply redundant is necessary, still.

That may be true. But it has nothing to do with why the lander had to be landed manually. The processor was old even then, and selected because all the faults were well known. It was just too slow for the job. Given how little this has to do with Tesla Motors, I'll leave it at that. The only reason I commented in the first place is that processor speed was a point of discussion.

Some thoughts on the original topic:

"Will Electric Cars Lose Value Quickly? Some Say Yes, We Disagree"

Interesting that greencarreports makes no mention whatever of Tesla. The latest article there I could find is from March:

A decent write-up, but somewhat dated, now!

As for the Karma, CARB was not impressed:

The level of emissions Fisker received is not high enough to qualify the Karma to receive permission to drive in High Occupancy Vehicle, or HOV, lanes when only the driver is present, Swanton said, a privilege allotted to some lower emissions vehicles under a forthcoming program.

“The engine is a [General Motors] unit,” said Roger Ormisher, spokesman for Fisker. “It’s an older engine. It’s not the cleanest on the market. We knew that when we went into this.

“We expect most of our customers will rarely use the gasoline engine. It’s an insurance policy,” he said, adding, “The most important thing is that this is an electric car with extended range.”


In Washington state after our car gets to a certain age, we have to have them emission checked every few years. These days with newer cars they just read engine management data from the on board computer and your out with no time on the dyno.

My ICE with 200K passed with flying colors, but I was thinking, wow. I might never have to come here again.

I would NEVER buy an extended range electric/ICE hybrid. Consider the electronics requried for electric drive. Then all the same old crap you need for ICE. You end up with a very complicated car with more points of failure, more weight, less electric range, etc... It's the worst of both worlds. It still smells, and you have to plug it in. And you still end up at the emissions test lane every so often.

I take no joy in bad karma news. But I just don't get the Fisker. Just don't understand it.

Interesting that greencarreports makes no mention whatever of Tesla. The latest article there I could find is from March (Brian H)

Not sure how you searched the site (there is a search box and you could type in "Tesla" there). There have been a total of 14 (fourteen) stories in October and November 2011 that had Tesla (most of them the Model S) as their primary subject:

@jbunn: I've been having the same thought -- MA has mandatory annual inspection for all cars, and I can only imagine the consternation of the inspector when he tries to figure out where the tailpipe is!


I laughed so hard at that image. I was planning on playing the same game with the motor for people that want to see it. Not in the front? Oh, probably in the back. Go look in the back. Not there eiether? I have no idea!

Also looking forward to the first person that says "but it's just batteries, right? How much performance could it have?"

Geeze, fall is a long time away....

Yep, ages away. :( That's ok, at my age, anything that slows down time is a good thing. :)

" I was planning on playing the same game with the motor for people that want to see it. Not in the front? Oh, probably in the back. Go look in the back. Not there eiether? I have no idea!"

I'm going to tell them that it runs on magic! Either that, or one of those garage door springs wound extremely tightly.

Yes, lots of more or less dedicated articles! I was just following content and links for the "general" EV articles, LA Auto Show link, etc. The focus was exclusively on the "majors", even down to Mitsubishi level. It's almost as though they're treating TM as a separate category.


Brian H, you didn't find Tesla in the LA Auto Show section simply because they do not exhibit there.

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