In the middle of last month I got an unsolicited email from Tesla headquarters asking me if I wanted to upgrade my Model S. I have not seen much chatter about this on the web and the email was addressed directly to me. I have a VIN less than 5,000, so hand soliciting owners with less than 5,000 miles is not surprising. A Bloomberg reports states that Tesla is strongly pushing to show positive cash flow in the third quarter.
The bulk of the email stated the following:
This is X with Tesla Motors Headquarters. Today, I am writing to you to explore upgrading your Model S!
Our newest release of Autopilot hardware and software will revolutionize your commute and we’d like to offer you an easy path to upgrade your Model S to a vehicle with these new features. Model S also features new options such as improved seating, Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive, Ludicrous speed, range of over 280 miles, new colors, new fascia and much more. Above all, we have made the upgrading process simple and convenient.
We are also excited to share that we have reintroduced the Tesla Referral Program! From now until October 15th you will receive a $1,000 credit towards the purchase price of either a Model S/X.
I had not really looked into upgrading, as I tend to hold onto cars for at least ten years unless there is a compelling reason to upgrade. But I thought I’d look into how much it would cost to upgrade my Model S. I had no interest in the Model X.
There are currently four battery sizes available: 60, 75, 90 or 100 kWh. The 100kWh only comes configured as a P100D with dual drive. The 90 is also only available with the dual drive but the 60 and 75 can be configured with rear wheel drive. My main interest is battery range as I like to take long trips and have the most flexibility on when and where to charge. The following table shows the four battery options, the EPA mileage estimates, the amount of upfront cash required before sales tax, and the cost per mile. The 60 and 75 rear wheel drive version and the 90D are in the same ballpark; if you have any interest in a longer range vehicle, you are paying the same proportion in cost for more battery cells up to the 90D.
The P100D is a $42,500 jump from the 90D. The 90D goes from 0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds, the P100D goes from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds. If I were to upgrade, I would definitely go with the 90D. The P100D’s range is not that much more for the extra cost. I live in an area with increasing congestion where it is increasingly difficult to enjoy fast 0 to 60 acceleration.
I’d pay the $3,000 for Autopilot 2.0 hardware. The primary feature I would be interested in is intelligent cruise control. I’ve always found traditional cruise control generally more frustrating than anything else because there are always too many cars on the highway to maintain a constant speed. The rest of the autopilot features don’t interest me all that much.
Smart Air Suspension
I bought the smart air suspension on my Model S in order to improve the efficiency while driving on the freeway. Unfortunately I have found very little efficiency improvements using the smart air suspension. For $2,500 and more maintenance issues, I would definitely pass on this option.
I’d definitely configure the car with the Panoramic Roof for $1,500. I don’t think I have ever bought a car without some sort of sunroof.
After so much hassle with my 21” tires, I definitely would choose 19” wheels. Low profile tires are just too much of a hassle on a wide vehicle. I am tired of tight parking spaces, curb rash, and the increased vulnerability and wear of low profile tires.
Ultra High Fidelity Sound
For $2,500, I am a sucker for better sounding music in the car even though I don’t listen to it all that much. I know there are after market options, but that to me is just a hassle.
Premium Upgrade Package
This $3,000 package includes a lot of miscellaneous things. I would like to have the filtration system to some agricultural smells, and I like having a power liftgate.
I don’t have any needs for the Sub Zero Weather Package, Rear Facing Seats or the High Amperage Charger.
Deciding the exact color seat combination would probably be a last minute decision. I’d probably wait for the grey second generation seats in Mid 2017 that are a $2,500 upgrade. I’m happy with my black interior, but I’ve always liked grey interiors the best.
I would be unlikely to get my federal tax credit of $7,500. I did not get the credit on the Roadster, and I did not get all the credit on my Model S. I am very fortunate to have retired very early in life, and my investments are tuned to only generate enough interest and dividend income to offset property tax and mortgage interest. Adjusting this even in one tax year is not that simplistic, and definitely hard to do in the last quarter of a year.
The California state tax credit is a bit more complex and caught up in politics. Right now if you try to apply you will be put on a waitlist.
For both my Roadster and Model S, the rebate arrived very quickly and the process was painless. Recently though the California government stopped this incentive for high income earners and increased the incentives for those with low income. California uses gross annual incomes to determine whether or not you are eligible for the income.
I would not count on the $2,500 California rebate if I bought a new Tesla both for political reasons and my personal widely fluctuating income.
I have to admit the number one thing I was curious about in this process was the value of my current Model S with 59,000 miles on it. The process to get a quote took a while but in the end, I would receive $41,000 plus a $1,000 loyalty credit contingent upon an inspection. I don’t have any scratches on the car but they would likely deduct some curb rash repair fees.
The most likely configuration I came up with was a 90D with about half the options for $102,000. I would need to add in 9% sales tax and then subtract out my $42,000 trade in. I do still have $800 left in credit for an earlier referral but that might be used up to clean up the curb rash on my wheels. In the end to upgrade my car would cost me around $70,000!
I have no interest in changing my under warranty 59,000 mile Model S for the a very similar car with a small increase in range for $70,000. In the unlikely occurrence that my Model S was totaled, I might be interested in leasing and switching the cars around till I found the perfect body size for me – even driving an X for a few years then switching to a Model 3. Upgrading a car to essentially the same car is just not all that interesting.