Model S Options and Pricing Observations




Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011 by Max Mindel

Late this afternoon, Tesla Motors released their list of options and pricing for the Model S.  It was exciting and at the same time it was a reality check for many of us.  The total cost that you thought you might spend on a Model S probably went up for many of us, especially since those who were considering a 160 mile 40kwh battery, may be reconsidering and now opting for a 230 mile 60kwh battery.   If you haven’t read about the options yet at Tesla Motor’s Options and Pricing page, you may be disappointed to find out that supercharging, that is, the ability to pull over and charge your car quickly (160 miles in 30 minutes) at a Tesla Motors supercharger will only work on either a 230 mile or 300 mile battery; and if you have a 230 mile battery, that supercharging feature comes at an additional undisclosed ‘TBD’ (to-be-determined) cost.  So, if you were planning on purchasing a 160 mile version with the dream of being able to pull over at a supercharger and quickly refuel while enjoying a meal, that dream became just that--only a dream, not a reality.  One day, however, while needing to travel beyond your 160 mile limit, you may end up being grateful for having made that choice.

Below is a table that summarizes of options for the Model S and Signature version.  This table does not include the Performance versions of either vehicle.  Model S Performance versions will be discussed in a subsequent article.


If you were planning on opting for the pearl white color, you were surely expecting to pay a premium for that, and now we know, that it cost an additional $1500 for that option unless of course you reserved the Signature version which includes any color as well as the unique “Signature Red.”  What you may have not known is that the blue, green, grey and brown are all metallic colors.  That certainly will make those color options significantly more attractive.  What you have not expected
though, is that those metallic color choices including silver, come at a premium cost of an additional $750.


If you were counting on a All-Glass Panoramic roof included with your Signature model, you might be disappointed...or you might be pleased.  Now we’ve learned that there’s no all-glass roof included in any Model S configuration.  So whether you’re buying a production Model S, a Signature, or a sport version of either, either way, we all have to fork over $1500 to enjoy something that is truly unique among cars.  This appears to me to have been a wise choice on the part of Tesla Motors because not everyone lives in a climate that will make an all-glass roof comfortable for everybody.  Having an all glass roof may very well be intolerable in an Arizona summer.  It’s also a matter of privacy.  Some might feel like they have no privacy with an all-glass roof.  Cars that have moon-roofs typically have sliding covers so you can cut down on the heat and enable privacy when you want it.  A sliding cover for your glass roof is not an option on a Model S.  Also, if you were a Signature buyer and didn’t want a panoramic roof but felt like you paid for it,  you wouldn’t be too happy about not getting a credit or a refund went with a metal roof instead.  Maybe this way, everyone is happy.  So we’ll all get to choose between a roof that matches the body color of our car, or a black one to simulate that all-glass panoramic roof feel, or the actual all-glass panoramic roof itself.  By the way, if you’re planning on getting satellite radio, it appears that you have to have a panoramic roof for that.  Perhaps the antenna is built into the glass roof.


The production model of the Model S comes with Micro Fiber seats.  I recall seeing a video with Elon Musk implied that all Model S’ came with leather seating, so I’m surprised by this.  I just assumed that with a premium car like this that it would just be part of it.  However, to get a leather interior comes at a price tag of $1500.  (It’s actually unusual that so many of the options on the Model S cost exactly $1500).   For this price not only do you get a leather
interior in your choice of black, tan or grey, you also get to choose between a dash that is decorated with banana wood (which I like) or black lacewood.  If you don’t buy into the leather option, your car comes with Piano black decor.  If you are buying a Signature Model S, you get the same leather options except no choice for gray leather, but rather, white leather instead at no additional charge. The leather, however, in the Signature model is perforated.  I’m guessing that this is a cosmetic differentiation since there is no mention of heated or air-cooled seats. Often seat perforations in leather seats are used to provide air-cooling from the seat itself  (My wife has this feature in here Infiniti M35).


If you seriously care about the quality of the sound in your car, then you’ll be happy to know that while the Model S already comes with a 200-watt 7-speaker stereo system that include AM/FM and even HD radio, as well as dual USB ports and storage for up to 500 songs, you can upgrade beyond that.  For an additional $950, you can add on the “Sound Studio Package.”  This package improves the quality of the sound with a 580-watt 12-speaker Dolby ProLogic 7.1 system.  It even offers 16GB of storage for up to 3000 songs.  If you are buying a Signature Model S, this is included as standard feature.  Is the price worth it?  We’ll have to hear for ourselves and determine that later, but I’m guessing that it will sound great.


I’ve always had a hard time justifying the high price for automobile navigation systems.  When it was something new, I could understand the charge for thousands of dollars.  As portable navigation systems (GPS) began to come out that were $500 and less, I began to question it.  Even now, I have two great GPS apps on my iPhone that I count on regularly.  I stopped using my Magellan GPS at least 2 years ago.  Tesla Motors is offering navigation in a package that includes a whole lot more for a total price of $3,750.  This is of course included in the Signature model.  With such a technologically advanced vehicle, it would feel odd not to have a navigation system, particularly with that revolutionary 17” screen.  But at $3,750 considering GPS’s are now already priced under $100 and you’re already paying for the 17” screen in the Model S.  My reaction...Ouch!  Perhaps the blow is less severe when you consider that the price is part of an entire “Tech Package” which also includes, an HD back-up camera, a power rear liftgate, xenon headlamps, LED foglights, Electrochromatic (automatically dimming) side mirrors, a 16gb hard drive, two rear USB ports, homelink (to open your garage door), and automatic keyless entry.  Clearly with these add-ons, the price of the navigation component is thousands less.  I suppose the geek in me will have to seriously consider this option.


You have to admit, the 21” wheels look great.  They do.  But some people don’t like them.  I’ve heard comments like, “I don’t want to have a fan as a wheel.”  Nevertheless, I like the design and many others do to.  It’s not that I don’t like the 19” wheels.  I like those too.  But I like how the 21” wheels fill the wheel well better.  Unfortunately, these are performance wheels only since the tires that are available in the marketplace for them are performance tires rather than all-season tires.  So why is that a problem?  It’s that performance tires are designed to grip the road really well but as a result, tires wear much faster and these tires also are more expensive than the tires that can be placed on the 19” wheel alternative for the Model S.  Tesla Motors charges $3500 for these wheels with their performance tires.  That’s a pretty steep price if you just like the look and are not particularly interested in the performance, and the tire wear that accompanies it.  Fortunately there is another option for another wheel look for less than half that price.  That is the 19” Aerodynamic Wheel with all-season tires.  The benefit here too, is that it squeeze a few more miles out of your charged battery.  The 21” performance wheels and tires come included in the Signature model, but you may choose the regular 19” or aerodynamic 19” instead.  Despite the fact that these wheel/tire options are cheaper than the 21” performance wheel/tire option, there is not indication at this time, that downgrading would give a Signature buyer a credit on that purchase.  The 19” Aerodynamic wheels cost an additional $1500 for a non-signature vehicle.


While supercharging won’t be an option for those with a 160 mile battery, charging more quickly at your home or office is still a possibility.  Telsa Motors is offering a twin charger that doubles the rate at which you recharge your battery.  The standard single charger that is included in the non-signature model will charge up to 31 miles per charge.  However, the twin charger will charge up to 62 miles per charge.  This feature costs an additional $1500, but is included with the Signature version.  All models come equipped with a 100 volt standard outlet adapter, a 240 volt dryer outlet adapter, and a J1772 public charging station adapter too.


In any SUV or hatchback car, you need some kind of cover so that prying eyes don’t see and get tempted by your cargo.  When you have a regular trunk, you don’t have to worry about this, but certainly anyone would need this.  So I’m not sure why Tesla didn’t just make this a standard item.   My Lexus RX SUV has one, and it was included at no additional charge.  If you ordered a Signature model, this cargo cover which they call a “Parcel Shelf” will cost an additional $250.


If you were born in the 60’s or have seen any old movies, maybe your remember seeing the SUV of that decade.  It was called a “Station Wagon”.  Some of them had an extra row of seats that faced backwards.  As you probably already know, the Tesla Model S has these available, but from what I’ve read, the height in that area limits this seating space for kids, so the seats too have been designed for kids in mind with a 5 point harness instead of a traditional seat belt to offer extra safety.  The nice thing about
these seats if you have kids during part of your day, is that they fold and nicely hide out of the way to give you back your precious cargo space.  This set of kiddie seats are not a standard option with any Tesla Model S configuration.  They cost an additional $1500 for the set.


It is a relief to now have a full list of pricing and options.  Some things such as the Air Suspension appear to be reasonably priced while other options will have some of us suffering from sticker shock.  Nevertheless, for those who are on budgets it finally gives us an opportunity to figure out what we can’t live without, and what we would love to have and gives us hopefully the time to make sure we have adequate funds to end up with the Tesla Model S of our dreams.  It’s comforting to see that prices were not raised as some people feared and that Tesla Motors is on target for a Summer 2012 release and has disclosed the time table for the release of each version of the Model S.  All this has made it all more real and thus more exciting. 


Model S Options and Pricing Observations

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