Tesla Bucks The Trend: Increases Cost Of Model S To Help Margins

NOV 21 2012 BY JAY COLE 8

2013 Model S To Receive Price Hike

While seemingly all mass producers of electric vehicles these days are cutting prices and offering big discounts to get consumers into their plug-in cars (most notably Nissan with the LEAF of late), Tesla is upping the cost of their Model S.

In announcing a price increase is coming shortly, Tesla does indicate that current reservation holders do not have to worry about this bump in price affecting their orders; that is unless they don’t lock their reservations in by converting to a firm sale when Tesla calls on them to configure their cars.

Tesla says that reservation holders when requested to make their Model S purchase will have a “fair, predefined timeframe” in order to complete the transaction without facing the new pricing.

The company expects the new cost structure to be out in the next 2-3 weeks.

Statement from Tesla:

Yes, we will be announcing a Model S price increase in the near future. However, there are a few very important points to understand about the upcoming price increase:

  1. The price increase will not apply to anyone with an existing reservation prior to the effective date of the price increase and who also configures their car and finalizes their order within a fair, predefined timeframe.
  2. There will be a few “options package” changes as part of the price increase (meaning some things that are currently considered standard equipment may become part of an optional package going forward). These changes will not apply to anyone with an existing Model S reservation prior to the effective date of the price increase who also configures their car and finalizes their order within a fair, predefined timeframe.
  3. All reservation holders who have “deferred” will receive an email regarding the price increase and will have the opportunity to keep current pricing and options packages by finalizing their configuration and order within a fair, predefined time frame, similar to those who did not defer.

This price increase is planned to be announced with full details, effective dates, pricing and options packages in the next two to three weeks. We are starting to hear rumors about “a price increase coming soon” and want to assure current reservation holders that the price increase will not affect them as long as they configure and finalize their order within a fair, predefined time frame after being invited to configure their Model S. If a test drive is all that is holding you back from configuring your car, please make an appointment at a Tesla storenear you.

Tesla previously increased prices on their Tesla Roadster multiple times as the company realized the car was more expensive to produce than originally anticipated.  The Roadster originally started around $92,000 before ultimately costing around $109,000 for the 2.0 model.

Tesla Roadster Also Felt The Pain Of Multiple Price Hikes

Unlike the Roadster however, we feel the reason for this upcoming price hike has nothing to do with the cost of production, but Tesla’s need to achieve a 25% profit margin (as stated by CEO Elon Musk) to be successful in the future.

The crisis at Tesla when it comes to profit margins is something the company has indirectly done to itself while in the hunt for as much cash as possible during this costly start-up period.

This 25% profit margin is a goal for ongoing production at the company, however in filling early orders, Tesla has pre-selected for sale only the “best of the best” of the 13,000 reservation the company has procured.   Meaning the company has stolen from the future for benefit of today.

To Date All Production Of Model S EVs Have Been The Premium 85 kWh Versions

The bulk of the cars produced to date have been of the $100,000+ variety, and all upcoming short-term production will be the 85 kWh version of the Model S, which currently starts at $77,400 (standard)-$92,400 (performance).  In December, Tesla will start producing the 60 kWh variation which starts at $67,400.

Its not hard to see that if you have 13,000 reservations, and you cherry-pick the top 3,000 high price/high margin cars for 2012 production, your 2013 margins are really going to be a struggle to meet.

Worse still, when the 2nd quarter of 2013 comes around, and Tesla is forced to build an estimated 5,000 base Model S cars at $57,400+ a piece, they will be achieving no where near the 25% margin the company needs to be successful.   If future orders are not both strong, and of high quality (like the premium 85 kWh cars) the company has a real problem on its hands.

In our opinion, the only answer for Tesla to alleviate this coming crisis was to up the price in an attempt to alleviate this self-inflicted gunshot wound, while hoping that future demand (and orders) will be strong enough to maintain the company’s forecast of 20,000 Model S electric sedans sold in coming years.

Tesla statement on price increase via their forums/blog

Categories: Tesla

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

8 Comments on "Tesla Bucks The Trend: Increases Cost Of Model S To Help Margins"

newest oldest most voted

Weird – does that mean if I reserve now, there won’t be an increase in price – but if I reserve after a couple of weeks there would be ?!

Yupe, exactly right.

You’ve got about 2 weeks to get your $5,000 deposit in, (=

What is this? Tesla Wednesdays? 🙂

While on the topic the Model S was supposed to be the mid-volume, mid-priced car made by Tesla. It is looking more like a low-volume, high-priced one, similar to the Roadster. Tesla may want to consider potential customers beyond the affluent and over-educated 😉

I think InsideEVs should do a year-end retrospective article to remind the readers where we were at the beginning of 2012, the Volt battery fiasco, sales practically extinguished, and where we are now with all of the new plug-in models making it to the market and all new announcements. Day to day for me it seems that there is so little progress and yet 2012 was a huge year.

Big thanks to all of the true believers and especially the true doers who made it possible!


I would never count out a guy that sent a rocket into space….


I’m not surprised. The $1,000 delivery fee and the high service costs were both pointing in this direction. I guess I need to make up my mind fast between a Tesla and a Volt.

All things being equal, sales of the lower end models are significantly less profitable but all things aren’t equal. They certainly will have less margin but don’t forget they will be produced during significantly higher production volumes which will greatly narrow the gap, as long as Tesla is able to continue to ramp up as planned. Also, a lot f margin will be with the options and even smaller battery versions will likely be optioned up significantly.

They are trending toward active reservations plus early 2013 deliveries reaching 20k early in the year or even by the end of 2012. Perhaps they are also raising prices because they can because of that old supply and demand thingy.

Sorry to nitpick, but it would have been better to say they plan to increase the “price”, not the “cost”. In the manufacturing/engineering world, “cost” is how much it costs the manufacturer to make a product — not how much they sell it for. So increasing the cost would reduce margins, not increase them.