Tesla's US website has always shown each car's price "After potential savings," and then the actual starting price of the vehicle is listed as secondary. While the automaker shifted things around in the past so both numbers were readily visible, the default price with potential savings can be seen as potentially misleading. Now, the site defaults to the actual purchase price up front.
If you've never hopped onto Tesla's US website to configure a car, you may not be aware, but the prices initially shown had the company's "potential savings" factored in. It was supposed to give buyers an idea of what they may really be paying after saving money on fuel costs and incentives.
For example, the Tesla Model 3 officially starts at $43,490, at least for now. Tesla has been changing its prices frequently. With the potential savings factored in, that same Model 3 is listed at $31,790, which is a very far cry from over $43,000. If someone visited Tesla's site for the first time before the recent update, it wouldn't be a surprise for them to think, at least initially, that the car started at less than $32,000.
As you can see, the updated configurator shown below has the actual price listed first, and it's larger and bolded. The price with the potential savings is listed next, though it's smaller and sort of grayed out. It's much more clear now that the Model 3 starts at $43,490.
If you click on the area that reads "After potential savings," a dialog box pops up with a breakdown of the estimated savings. The lower amount includes Tesla's estimated six-year gas savings, as well as the full $7,500 US federal EV tax credit.
Keep in mind that not all folks can or will get the tax credit, and even if they do, they have to wait for it. It doesn't reduce the price they pay or finance at the time of purchase. Moreover, the gas savings estimate is listed over six years. Gas and electricity prices fluctuate, and each person's gas savings will be different. And again, this is not something that comes off the purchase price, but rather, savings that owners have to wait for and realize over time.
Now that Tesla has made the change, not only should its prices be much more clear to buyers, but it can also help to educate them. They will know what they are expected to pay for the new EV up front, and if they're interested, they can take a look at the savings available.
Tesla says the Model 3 costs about $400 per year to charge, while a similar gas car will require $1,100 in fuel annually. However, according to the EPA's estimates, it will cost an average of $550 to charge the Model 3 for a year, which the organization says is $1,300 less per year than gassing up the average car.