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To finance Tesla or not


Active Member
Oct 20, 2014
Given the rising inflation and the poor leasing deals (they wanted $6k down, high payments and high residual value) financing make a lot of sense, just stay away from the fatbellies at your local bank. Got 1.9% 5 year from dcu.org two months ago.
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For leasing a P90D X with options resulting in a total price of about $137,000 (excluding all of the Tesla smoke & mirrors with tax credits, gas savings, etc.), our down payment was quoted at about $9,200 (which includes the first month's payment), then about $2,100 per month (which includes CA sales tax) for 36 months @ 15,000 miles per year. Our $5k deposit will be applied to the down payment, so it's an additional $4k out of pocket at delivery.

The big question for me is how much higher insurance is going to be for this car... :scared:
My lease was confirmed for the following terms:

Total price including $1,200 delivery fee: $132,950
Due at pickup: $7,433 incl $1,788 first month's payment - no sales tax in NJ less $5,000 deposit
$1,753 - 10,000 miles
1,788 - 12,000 miles (my choice)
1,822 - 15,000 miles


(S85-3/2/13 traded in) X LR: F2611##-3/27/20
Supporting Member
Mar 8, 2012
My lease was confirmed for the following terms:

Total price including $1,200 delivery fee: $132,950
Due at pickup: $7,433 incl $1,788 first month's payment - no sales tax in NJ less $5,000 deposit
$1,753 - 10,000 miles
1,788 - 12,000 miles (my choice)
1,822 - 15,000 miles

Which is why I didn't lease (not that there was a lease available when I purchased). I've racked up 22K miles per year on average. That's 7K more per year than on my previous car.

It's really a matter of what one wants when it comes to leasing vs. financing vs. buying outright.

In Los Angeles, for a Model X P90D with $1,000 paint; $2,500 seats; Figured Ash Wood Décor ($750); Seven Seats ($4,000); AutoPilot ($2,500); Premium Upgrades ($4,500); Ultra High Fidelity Sound ($2,500); and Destination & Doc Fee ($1,200), that would total $134,450.

To lease (36 months, 15k miles), add the $695 Acquisition fee, $962 DMV fees, $1,846 first payment, 9% tax ($679) to arrive at $9,182 due at delivery (minus your $5,000 Production deposit). Since the $7,500 Federal tax credit is factored into the lease, your payment including sales tax would be $2,013/mo. So your total three-year outlay would be $70,455 + $9,182 = $79,637.

To purchase, add $962 in DMV fees plus 9% sales tax ($12,100.50) for a cash total of $147,513. Presumably you will get the $7,500 Federal tax credit on next year's tax return, so net cost would be $147,003. The car is yours to keep for however long you want, but if you only kept the car for three years and then sold it for 50% of its value ($73,502), then your effective monthly cost for those three years would be $2,041/mo. Over 60 months, the effective cost would be $1,225/mo (still assuming you're able to sell at 50% of its original value, as imprecise as that might be!)

To finance, take the above purchase price (incl. sales tax) of $147,513 and deduct your $5,000 production deposit plus an additional $4,182 to make the deposit the same as it would be on the lease ($9,182); then assume a 5-year loan at 2.4% on the remaining $142,513. Factoring in the $7,500 Federal tax credit (which isn't how it actually works, of course), your monthly payment for 60 months would be $2,316.14/mo (which obviously isn't apples-to-apples when comparing to the previous three-year examples, but the payment would only be higher at 36 months).


1) If you intend to buy your Model X outright with cash and keep it for 10 years, that's the least expensive way to go.

2) If you intend to buy your Model X outright with cash and keep it for 3 years, it's almost the same overall expense as leasing if you can get at least 50% back when you sell it, but your upfront outlay would be significantly higher and you'd lose out on being able to invest that difference in the interim.

3) If you intend to replace your Model X in three years, then leasing is the least expensive way to go. But if at the end of 3 years you chose to keep it, the expense would be much higher than if you had just bought it or financed it originally.

4) If you have no idea how long you want to keep the car, then financing is the best way to go, but it won't be the least expensive option (unless you keep the car for longer than you would have if the car was bought outright).

My local sales rep advised if you finance with Tesla you can sell it back at 3 year mark and get guaranteed 50% value or something like that.

If Tesla actually guarantees a 50% buyback, then this might make #2 more attractive.

Which is why I didn't lease ... I've racked up 22K miles per year on average. That's 7K more per year than on my previous car.

Yes, if someone drives more than 15,000 miles per year, leasing is probably not the best choice.
I don't like monthly payments, where unnecessary, and plan to keep the X for quite some time. so it's cash for us. Also, kids will start college in 5 and 7 years, so reducing our liquid assets by $100K+ may qualify them for more financial aid.

I guess the only thing I worry a little about is whether the X will have some radical improvement in 3-4 years that I can't live without and will want to upgrade (in which case, a lease or finance would probably be better), but even then I expect the resale value of the X will be high enough to mitigate an upgrade. Also, to put things in perspective, the X will be our first car with Bluetooth; our first car with USB ports of any kind; our first car that can play MP3s or WAV files without a cassette adapter. So I'm thinking we will probably be fairly happy with it, at least for the first few years. :)
I decided to lease for the following reasons:
1. I expect significant improvements over the next 3 years - larger battery, upgraded autopilot, & who knows what else, so will probably get a new one at that time.
2. Leasing makes it easier to get out of the car after 3 years since these improvements might depreciate the car more than expected making the trade-in worth less if you buy now.
3.Leasing produces lower payments, than a loan, for the 3 year period
4. Obviously, if you're going to drive substantially more than 15K per year, or keep the car for more than 3 years, then leasing is not for you.
5. If you can write the car off as a business expense, leasing accelerates the write-off
6. At the end of the 3 years, I will probably buy my next MX as I will probably keep that one more than 3 years

With reference to the statement above about paying cash vs financing, I respectfully disagree. You can get auto loans at 1.9% and my Home Equity Line is 2.24% (deductible) and I can earn much more on the money by not tying it up in a depreciating asset.

The bottom line is that either financing or leasing can be the better alternative depending upon your particular situation.
Not sure about MX, but the MS leases that I've seen charge for excess mileage at $0.25/mile. So over the term of the lease if you exceed the mileage specified in the lease by 20,000 miles, the excess mileage charge is $5000.

$0.25/mile is a lot for a $20,000 Camry, but within reason for a $100k luxury car. The depreciation hit from 20k extra miles is probably not a far cry from $5000. For example, instead of a $75,000 3 year old Model X (original price $150k) with 45,000 miles, maybe the same car with 65,000 miles will only be worth $70,000.

I leased my MS, with an amortized cost of about $1/mile for the included miles. As opposed to trying to stay within the included mileage, I'm trying to drive the car as much as possible - to get my $/mile average down =) I'm half joking here.

Having said all that, the actuaries that set the lease pricing seem to value additional miles at ~$0.10-$0.15/mile. This is inferred from looking at the price differential between 10k miles/year, 12k miles/year, and 15k miles/year leases. They may be factoring in that the additional mileage paid for is often unused.

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