Tesla Model S Considered For UK Government Fleet, Good Idea or Bad?


While we support the electrification of government fleets, and any new sales for the Tesla Model S, U.K. public officials are perhaps considering taking things a bit to the extreme.

Tesla Model S Interior - Right Hand Drive

Tesla Model S Interior – Right Hand Drive

Now that Tesla Motors has entered the United Kingdom with the first of their RHD (Right Hand Drive) all-electric Model S sedans (check out launch ceremony from last month here), Automotive News reports that the government is considering the car as part of their green fleet.

The U.K. has allotted 5 million pounds ($8.6 million USD) to U.K. ministers to buy just over 150 ultra-low emission vehicles under the “Government Car Services” allowance.

New VP of Communications and Marketing for Tesla, Simon Sproule, acknowledged that the Model S was being considered.

“The Model S we understand will be under evaluation for inclusion…it would be great to see California-built Teslas transporting Her Majesty’s ministers on official business across London.”

Here is the thing.  Having public officials jaunt about the country in a highly visible premium sports sedan (electric or not) has never been a terribly good idea, as it tends to not sit well with the masses…especially in times of economic distress.

There is also the matter of the total budget of the program.   If we consider perhaps 80% of the 5 million budget actually goes to purchasing the cars themselves, that would mean only 55 to 75  cars in total could be purchased (the Tesla Model S ranges from 53,330 to 69,080 locally).

Better Idea To Purchase Something Like The Vauxhall Ampera For UK Officials?

Better Idea To Purchase Something Like The Vauxhall Ampera For UK Officials?

Given the average price of a reasonable EV in the UK, even if only a handful were purchased by the highest level of executives, it would mean that more than a few people are going to end up in Renault Twizys on the low end of the stick…unless they are willing to fall well short of the 150 unit goal; which would mean more petrol vehicles on the road.

Put another way, given the resources they have to work with, the U.K. could buy about 190 Nissan LEAFS (£21,490) or 140 Vauxhall Amperas (£28,750) for the same amount of money, and they would also be telling the public that affordable plug-in vehicles were a viable solution in the U.K.

But we may be off base.  So, how are you with public servants using government funds to get around in Tesla Model S sedans?

Automotive News

Category: Tesla

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36 responses to "Tesla Model S Considered For UK Government Fleet, Good Idea or Bad?"
  1. Mint says:

    I think it’s an awful idea for the reasons you mentioned.

    The only way it would make sense is if Tesla publically announced that they were leased at a major discount (or even free).

  2. DonC says:

    Isn’t the point that you need to look like you’re a very important person? Someone who has money to waste. If so, what would better suit the purpose than a grossly overpriced car, be it electric or not?

    These guys/gals wouldn’t be driving a Fit, they’d be driving a MB S Class. Why not the only EV that would fit the bill as having enough room and being overpriced? Makes perfect sense to me.

    1. Joshua Burstyn says:

      Tesla has been extremely transparent and fair in pricing the ‘S. For example in Canada they announced the pricing and gave a relatively detailed breakdown to me when I complained about the price vs customers in the US. In China the ‘S is priced below comparable sedans from other foreign vendors.

      The car is a rolling technological powerhouse on wheels and includes a massive and expensive battery. Additionally it’s made from Aluminum which generally costs 3x more than steel.

    2. See Through says:

      These officials are spending tax payer dollars, not their own money.
      Ampera makes perfect sense. Ampera’s back seat is nicer than most other cars. They can travel any distance if needed, like visiting emergency areas, without any range concern or wait time to recharge. I would think, these cars have an irregular commute pattern.

      1. Mikael says:

        *sigh*… never get tired of trolling?

  3. David Peilow says:

    They swan around now in very expensive Jaguars and Range Rovers, so what’s the difference? When ministers have previously used Priuses, they get laughed at.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Really the issue is the perception of what they drive over the specific costing.

      We are used to important political figures driving around (or being driven) in dark colored land-whales, regardless if they are BMWs, MBs, or Jags…that is the acceptable norm. When those cars and there drivers go ‘outside the norm’ – to the perceived self-indulgent high end for the official – there is generally trouble.

      Just as an example. The Chevrolet Camaro is build in Oshawa, Ontario (Canada). When it debuted, a politician (the mayor) and another high ranking employee that it would be a swell idea to drive the locally made car over the normal Cadillac or Buicks that had been the norm.

      Even though the Camaro was a reasonable purchase, one could say even a ‘value buy’ as opposed to adding another Cadillac (when it comes to cost), the perceived self-indulgent/sports car profile of the car made it a bad choice.

      In the end, the Camaro only got bad press/was then known as a car that no respectable public servant could drive (back to land whales), and the employees/recipients themselves that drove the car went through PR hell as well.

      The Tesla Model S may be no more money that whatever the UK Ministers currently drive, and clearly there will be fuel savings as well…but you are still going to have public servants zipping around in a very high profile, fun-to-drive, 400+ hp, 0-60 mph in 4 second machine.

      The point is the whole thing could easily turn around and bite them (and Tesla) in the face if they decided to spent the program money on the Model S.

      1. TomArt says:

        Only if the press makes a big deal out of it…as far as I know, the UK press isn’t completely overtaken by so-called “conservatives” who amount to nothing more than blowhards and fools (like we have here in the US) that are not truly conservative in any sense of the word.

        And, it’s up to the politicians to not be pushovers and make their case. Nobody has a spine anymore.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Well really, that’s the gamble you play in this situation … and the wider question if it is a good move or not

          1. Just_chris says:

            There is a storm brewing in the uk due to poor air quality, people are looking to blame Diesel and the gov are looking to be seen to be doing more.

            There will be a song and dance in the press about the government buying sports cars but those who get upset would not vote for the current government. IMO I think the bigger issue for the cons would be buying an American car rather than a sports car.

    2. GSP says:

      I think it is a good move. Why not buy something with a similar price and image as the Jags and Land Rovers, but helps the environment and lowers operating costs? That benefits the taxpayers.

      And why not also buy Amperas for the officials that currently drive a diesel equivalent?


    3. abhishekifmr says:

      Exactly.Here in London Jag’s & Merc is prefered so why not Tesla. Let people know that Model S is better than any other Sedan

  4. MikeM says:

    I’m in general agreement. But wait . . . .

    If there are replacing Rolls-Royce/Bentley/Merc style vehicles, wouldn’t they be a tad LESS ostentatious?

    Also, I’m not sure John Q Public would see a Tesla as a “premium sports sedan” anyway. It’s just another big car for the overlords to roll around in.

    In balance – not such a bad idea!

  5. John F says:

    It appears they are talking about getting these for people like the Prime Minister and other high level ministers conducting UK business. Its a safe quiet vehicle with the power and speed needed for safety and security. It has clean air advantages over an idling ICE car waiting to transport some dignitaries.

    My understanding is vehicles with no emissions will effectively be required in London. If ministers don’t use EVs, it would set a bad example. You can’t have the people making the laws drive around London in powerful gas guzzling ICE vehicles while they demand others travel in electric cabs.

    In this case, policy and politics should win over economics. The Tesla does make sense, and it would be a good idea.

    1. See Through says:

      You make me laugh when you say “power and speed needed for safety and security”. Are you talking about these dignitaries escaping from danger in high speed in London roads? Have you seen the London roads and aware of its speed limits? Or just getting involved in road races?
      If these cars are for the highest ranking officials, they will need to be armored. The large Mercedes sedans usually get $300K of bullet proof armory when used for the topmost officials. So, I think these are definitely not for your Majesty’s family or the top officials. The extra weight of armored model S will also lower the range substantially. And the budget will be much much higher.

    2. TomArt says:

      Agreed, John F.

  6. Ocean Railroader says:

    What this shows is the need for the Tesla third generation. In that as a government official I would like to get a car with a good name and good gas savings like Tesla. But I think spending $70,000 on a Tesla model S will simply backfire and create more rage angst Tesla.

    I remember China has asked their officials to buy electric cars. The officials like buying gas powered American gas luxury cars so Tesla would be a good niche for this need. At least the Tesla will save $70 in gas every time they fill up.

  7. ffbj says:

    Split the difference and use a % of the money to buy say 10 Tesla’s. Use them for visiting dignitaries and other special functions. If there are any longer distance travels of officials they could use the super-charger network, and counter claims of extravagance by pointing out the no fuel cost.
    The majority could be Leafs for the zipping around town ‘twixtn No. 10 and the House of Lords for example and other needs of the day to day functionary bubble and squeak.

    1. TomArt says:

      Makes sense to me.

  8. It’s more important to look at the TCO, total cost of ownership. Given the high resale value of Teslas, and the low operating costs, the Tesla is way better than say, a Range Rover.

    Policymakers are much more likely to get onboard the EV revolution if they have a good experience personally.

    Let them drive Teslas

  9. Nelson says:

    Here’s What they should get.
    25 – $100K Model S = $2.5 MIL.
    70 – $47K M.Benz B-Class ED = $3.3 MIL.
    55 – $50K i3REX = $2.7 MIL.

    NPNS! SBF!

  10. Lad says:

    The more cars Tesla sells, the longer they will be around and the better chance we have of reducing fossil fuel usage. Tesla is the only company “all in” and driving the EV business. Nissan is kinda half in and half out. The rest are on the sidelines hedging their bets.

  11. Mark C says:

    I think it gives them the high end vehicle they will “need” for the image they need to present to the public while also travelling emissions free. Since they are promoting EV’s, this is the perfect choice.

    1. TomArt says:


  12. Patrick says:

    I think its all about range. I work at a municipal shop and the problem with vehicle like the leaf is they often have to short of a range for all day use. Think of a bylaw officer driving around for most of a 8 hour shift, a leaf/Zoe will be dead after a couple hours. A PHEV will do the job but after the first hour your back to running on gas. The Telsa S on the other hand will easly last for the whole shift and can be charged up for the next day. Really for it price and range its not that expensive. You also have to consider how much fuel is saved, if it going to be in a high milage position(some fleet vehicles put on 100,000km year) it could pay off quickly.

  13. Alex says:

    I see no problem with top ministers having Tesla, while majority havings Leaf-s or something else.

  14. Mike says:

    It’s a great idea there, for the same reasons here:
    – Clean air.
    – Fueled by local utility, wind power, solar power.
    – Creating Local JOBS, and therefore
    – Growing the Local Economy.

  15. Mikael says:

    I think it’s great. Put them in cars that they will like and enjoy while being 100% local emission free.

    As we know one of the keys to getting more EV’s on the road is to let people drive them and understand how great they are.

    What do you think will happen with the countries policies on EV’s and fossil free electricity if you get the people in charge fall in love with EV’s?

    I say get them as many Teslas as they can afford while filling up the rest of the quota with i3’s or so.

  16. MDEV says:

    It is ironic that a foreign government “UK” is thinking about buying Tesla Model S for their fleet while in US, the American car “Tesla” made is ban for sale in several states.

    1. See Through says:

      Tesla is not banned. It is just not playing by the rules. Rules need to be bent for Tesla everywhere. Because it is Tesla.

      1. TomArt says:

        I know, I know…don’t feed the trolls…but this is just too much:

        Tesla is not breaking any rules. The laws in most States simply banned OEMs from competing against their own franchise dealerships. There was absolutely nothing wrong with an OEM that does not, nor ever had, franchise dealerships to sell direct.

        Once Tesla came on the scene, several states changed those rules for the purposes of destructive protectionism and inefficient, pointless constriction of interstate commerce.

  17. Priusmaniac says:

    Frankly after witnessing ministers in Belgium driving around in standard black diesel Mercedes for years, I really wouldn’t mind to have a change towards Black Model S. At least it would send the money in the right direction instead of to the ever German diesel limo. So go ahead Britain buy those cars and come to Brussels with them so you can show our ministers what the 21 Th century is all about.

    1. Priusmaniac says:

      By the way you can show Obama, what it is all about too. He drives an even worse car.

      1. TomArt says:

        The deal with the US is the level of security. The armor and other such modifications put into Limo One are substantial and extraordinary. It is possible that the increased weight and size might compromise the range of the vehicle considerably.

  18. Ryan says:

    How about a stripped non luxury version at half price or better?