Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register
  • The final cut of the 9th episode of the Tesla Motors Club Podcast, featuring Balazs Biro, of the prominent Hungarian EV channel Villanyautósok, is now available. You can watch it now on YouTube or listen to it on all major podcast networks.

Why is the Model S so expensive compared to Model 3...

I come in peace.

I'm a Canadian 2019 Model 3 SR+ owner. When looking at the prices for the Model S on tesla.com. I have to think why is the Model S so expensive? What is better on the S than the 3 that requires such a difference in price. Is it just performance and range and larger vehicle? I can buy 2 x Model 3 Performance for the price of one Model S Plaid.. I will admit I have never driven in an S

Just curious...

CDN Prices as of April 1, 2021

Model 3 SR+ - $52,990 ($5,000 Federal tax credit)
Model 3 Long Range - $64,990
Model 3 Performance - $74,990

Model S Long Range - $114,990
Model S Plaid - $159,990
Model S Plaid + - $199,990
 
  • Funny
Reactions: FlatSix911
I come in peace.

I'm a Canadian 2019 Model 3 SR+ owner. When looking at the prices for the Model S on tesla.com. I have to think why is the Model S so expensive? What is better on the S than the 3 that requires such a difference in price. Is it just performance and range and larger vehicle? I can buy 2 x Model 3 Performance for the price of one Model S Plaid.. I will admit I have never driven in an S

Just curious...

CDN Prices as of April 1, 2021

Model 3 SR+ - $52,990 ($5,000 Federal tax credit)
Model 3 Long Range - $64,990
Model 3 Performance - $74,990

Model S Long Range - $114,990
Model S Plaid - $159,990
Model S Plaid + - $199,990
For the same reason a 5-series is more expensive than a 3-series.

The Model S has adjustable air suspension for a smoother ride, HEPA filter, longer range, better sound insulation and better performance for starters.

The refreshed S also have better and newer tech like ventilated seats, bigger screens, 3 zone climate control, wireless chargers in the back, gaming computer, active noise cancellation and so on.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jimmer

Uncle Paul

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2013
6,299
7,636
Canyon Lake,CA
Model 3 is a nimble 4 door sports sedan.

Model S Plaid is much larger, and a grand touring 4 door hatch back.
The S is much faster, smoother, quieter, holds almost twice as much, carries 7 people, tows more, has larger tires/brakes, offers fantastic variable height and adaptable air suspension, has lots more range, charges faster, has noise cancellation for quiet and superior sound system. It has automatic doors, better high speed handling, etc. Many feel it is the most beautiful vehicle Tesla currently offers.

These cars are in two different marketplaces and offer totally different driving experiences.
 
Far superior car. After owning several Model S cars, I finally decided to give the MUCH CHEAPER Model 3 a try. Pretty much hated it from day one! Not to put anyone off of the Model 3. If you haven't owned a Model S, then you won't know the difference and the Model 3 will likely be great for most coming from other types of cars. However, for me, I was spoiled with the Model S. I gave it an honest try with the Model 3 for about 8 months. Finally ordered a new S. My first "Raven" version and WOW. 5 miles in, I was instantly at peace, relaxed and said "I'm home". It was worth every penny to upgrade back to the S, for me at least.

The Model S is just a far superior built car. Aside from it's obvious size difference, the quality level is clearly apparent.

Interior MUCH quieter on the S.
Seats far more comfortable.
Air Suspension produces a gazillion times better ride than the stiffer Model 3. (many will prefer the sportier ride of the Model 3). Personal preference. With Air Suspension though, I have a choice for a nice cushy ride if I want it, especially appreciated on long trips. Or, I can stiffen it up for a sportier ride too. I love having the option.

My Model 3 didn't have key fobs, was a huge deal for me as I hated having my phone as a key. This has since been corrected, but was one of the big reasons the 3 annoyed me so much.
Model 3 also now has an automatic truck, which mine didn't. Although, I prefer the hatchback and added space afforded, not just from the size, but from being a hatchback.

For me, I hated everything being controlled in the center screen. Did not like the Horizonal layout. Much prefer the vertical layout where everything is easily readable. Things on the far right of the Model 3 screen are difficult to see at quick glance while driving. I love having my navigation instructions directly in front of me, especially on the tight winding roads I am commonly on.

Little things, like having a simple glove box button was a big deal for me. Much prefer the additional stalks.

Personal preference, I like the wider stance of the Model S. Hated the headlights on the Model 3. Rest of the car looked OK, but was too narrow for my taste.

I also hated the door handles. My hands are commonly full and I love being able to open the Model S with my pinky (all that I have available without setting things down first). Model 3, had to free up an entire hand to open the door.

And again, just overall build quality. While all Tesla's do not remotely compete in terms of actual "Luxury" with the high-end brands, the superior build quaity of the Model S drives more competitively with the higher-end brands. Just a more solid feel in general. The Model S feels like an $80,000 car. The Model 3 feels like a $40,000 car.

Again, most are simply just my personal preferences in a car and what's important to ME. The Model 3 certainly has a technological marvel and really isn't missing much in comparison to the 3, which is what appeals to most seeking to enter the Tesla world. So in that respect, you won't be disappointed with a Model 3. But, if you're coming from a Model S, and any of the above is important to you, or if you love the quality of a larger Mercedes, BMW, Audi, etc, then the Model 3 could disappoint. Just sharing my firsthand comparisons for those that might have similar preferences and tastes to my own.
 
Others have covered differences between the current 3 and S. I think the aluminum vs steel construction is a big factor. Plus, the S is based on an older manufacturing design that isn't as cost effective. On the other hand, there are also tangible benefits to the larger S.

To OP, I came to your realization too when we purchased our Raven S in 2019...I could have bought two base Model 3 for same cost, one for each spouse. But the S has more interior space and cargo capacity, and can fit bigger items with the rear seats down. Is the S twice as better as a 3? No. However, I have no regrets getting the S and love the new air suspension ride, added space, six cup holders, dual screens, dedicated AP stalk, better style, more performance, and lifetime free Supercharging.

I test drove a Model Y a few months back and immediately felt like it was a lesser car. Don't get me wrong, I think the 3 and Y are phenomenal for their price segments but once you've been in an S or X, the other Teslas are a step down. I don't intend that to be mean, rude, nor snobbish as it was my coworkers' Model 3 that first drew me to Tesla. After colleagues let me drive their Model 3 I was smitten, but the S is a better fit for me and family. With the Raven S it was on par with all the latest Model 3 tech. The only shortcoming of our S, compared to a 3, is slower Supercharging (but at least ours is free).

It isn't much different it you buy an ICE vehicle. I just went to the Toyota website and a base Corolla is $20K. I was able to option a Camry XSE V6 with Navigation Upgrade Package for $37K and there were still other options I could have thrown on it, easily eclipsing the cost of two Corollas. Toyota sells a lot of Camrys even though they can cost twice of the Corolla. People obviously see some value of the Camry over the Corolla. Similar case between S and 3.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: DustinT

Mr X

Future Martian
Jan 18, 2013
2,387
2,844
LA
Far superior car. After owning several Model S cars, I finally decided to give the MUCH CHEAPER Model 3 a try. Pretty much hated it from day one! Not to put anyone off of the Model 3. If you haven't owned a Model S, then you won't know the difference and the Model 3 will likely be great for most coming from other types of cars. However, for me, I was spoiled with the Model S. I gave it an honest try with the Model 3 for about 8 months. Finally ordered a new S. My first "Raven" version and WOW. 5 miles in, I was instantly at peace, relaxed and said "I'm home". It was worth every penny to upgrade back to the S, for me at least.

The Model S is just a far superior built car. Aside from it's obvious size difference, the quality level is clearly apparent.

Interior MUCH quieter on the S.
Seats far more comfortable.
Air Suspension produces a gazillion times better ride than the stiffer Model 3. (many will prefer the sportier ride of the Model 3). Personal preference. With Air Suspension though, I have a choice for a nice cushy ride if I want it, especially appreciated on long trips. Or, I can stiffen it up for a sportier ride too. I love having the option.

My Model 3 didn't have key fobs, was a huge deal for me as I hated having my phone as a key. This has since been corrected, but was one of the big reasons the 3 annoyed me so much.
Model 3 also now has an automatic truck, which mine didn't. Although, I prefer the hatchback and added space afforded, not just from the size, but from being a hatchback.

For me, I hated everything being controlled in the center screen. Did not like the Horizonal layout. Much prefer the vertical layout where everything is easily readable. Things on the far right of the Model 3 screen are difficult to see at quick glance while driving. I love having my navigation instructions directly in front of me, especially on the tight winding roads I am commonly on.

Little things, like having a simple glove box button was a big deal for me. Much prefer the additional stalks.

Personal preference, I like the wider stance of the Model S. Hated the headlights on the Model 3. Rest of the car looked OK, but was too narrow for my taste.

I also hated the door handles. My hands are commonly full and I love being able to open the Model S with my pinky (all that I have available without setting things down first). Model 3, had to free up an entire hand to open the door.

And again, just overall build quality. While all Tesla's do not remotely compete in terms of actual "Luxury" with the high-end brands, the superior build quaity of the Model S drives more competitively with the higher-end brands. Just a more solid feel in general. The Model S feels like an $80,000 car. The Model 3 feels like a $40,000 car.

Again, most are simply just my personal preferences in a car and what's important to ME. The Model 3 certainly has a technological marvel and really isn't missing much in comparison to the 3, which is what appeals to most seeking to enter the Tesla world. So in that respect, you won't be disappointed with a Model 3. But, if you're coming from a Model S, and any of the above is important to you, or if you love the quality of a larger Mercedes, BMW, Audi, etc, then the Model 3 could disappoint. Just sharing my firsthand comparisons for those that might have similar preferences and tastes to my own.
Model 3 headlights are amazing and everything else about it is as well. Everything you "hate" I love. The 3 is in many ways better than the S due to its simplicity and size/cost. Smaller cars are also more fun to drive. Model S feels like a boat. 3 is much more sporty. Will have to see how the new Plaid compares to say a Model 3 Dual Motor.

New S's are good but can have several issues due to their *premium* features. Old S's are pretty terrible in terms of quality and reliability. My Dad has taken his past two S's to service at least 20+ times. Broken air suspension, pano roof not sealing, door handles not popping out, MCU issues, etc. I took my 3 to service once after I got it for a squeaky steering wheel. Zero issues in 1.5 years.

The coming refresh S looks to definitely be the best S yet but I doubt it will be prone to issues after it comes out (the delay is due to issues they're having)

3 is less complex and cheaper. That is one big reason why it's better than the S.
 
  • Funny
Reactions: FlatSix911
Did the Model 3 hurt you or something? Strong resent towards it lol


Model 3 headlights are amazing and everything else about it is as well. Everything you "hate" I love. The 3 is in many ways better than the S due to its simplicity and size/cost. Smaller cars are also more fun to drive. Model S feels like a boat. 3 is much more sporty. Will have to see how the new Plaid compares to say a Model 3 Dual Motor.


New S's are good but can have several issues due to their *premium* features. Old S's are pretty terrible in terms of quality and reliability. My Dad has taken his past two S's to service at least 20+ times. Broken air suspension, pano roof not sealing, door handles not popping out, MCU issues, etc. I took my 3 to service once after I got it for a squeaky steering wheel. Zero issues in 1.5 years.


The coming refresh S looks to definitely be the best S yet but I doubt it will be prone to issues after it comes out (the delay is due to issues they're having)


3 is less complex and cheaper. That is one big reason why it's better than the S.


Pay more for the S for more issues I suppose haha
I mean I really dislike my 3 as well, very loud at speed, harsh ride, can smell exhausts from trucks in traffic, plasticky inside and just cheap feeling interior in general. As for quality my 2018 S was flawless and the 3 has a small rattle.

Sure the 3 is more sporty and nimble but I’m not taking it to the tracks or back roads anyway. As transport on normal roads with other cars the difference isn’t huge.

I’m glad they refreshed the S so I can switch back, I’m not as happy with them taking so long that I will have had to live with the 3 for 18 months before I get the S. Although during COVID the car has mostly been standing so we only drove the 3 around 2500 miles.
 
  • Like
Reactions: alrnr2232

Tiger

Active Member
Oct 31, 2016
1,924
2,154
UN
As long as they cannot make more of the Model S (and X) (more or less sold out) than what they sell, they can ask any price for it (price parity). Some people will take it, and some will take something else. In order for the prices to drop, they would need to make so much more of them that the eventual (lower unit) profit at lower price point (Elon's words: every 5k drop of the price quadruples the amount of buyers, or something along those lines) would be bigger for the whole number of cars sold.

In short: it's just math and logic.
 
I bought my first S in 2015. Placed a deposit for a 3 on the first day I could. When it came time to order in 2018, I took a test drive in a 3. A 30 minute test drive convinced me that the S is a far superior car. Smoother, faster, longer range, and much better cargo capacity. I cancelled the reservation and traded in my 2015 S 85D on a new 2018 100D. I have been very happy with that decision. The Model 3 is a great little car, but the S meets my needs much better.
 
Because of the 8 ft lumber/trim hauling capability...
 

Attachments

  • 97F2B9F0-972C-49CF-B179-AC8D61D69736.jpeg
    97F2B9F0-972C-49CF-B179-AC8D61D69736.jpeg
    445.5 KB · Views: 63
  • Like
Reactions: FlatSix911
Far superior car. After owning several Model S cars, I finally decided to give the MUCH CHEAPER Model 3 a try. Pretty much hated it from day one! Not to put anyone off of the Model 3. If you haven't owned a Model S, then you won't know the difference and the Model 3 will likely be great for most coming from other types of cars. However, for me, I was spoiled with the Model S. I gave it an honest try with the Model 3 for about 8 months. Finally ordered a new S. My first "Raven" version and WOW. 5 miles in, I was instantly at peace, relaxed and said "I'm home". It was worth every penny to upgrade back to the S, for me at least.

The Model S is just a far superior built car. Aside from it's obvious size difference, the quality level is clearly apparent.

Interior MUCH quieter on the S.
Seats far more comfortable.
Air Suspension produces a gazillion times better ride than the stiffer Model 3. (many will prefer the sportier ride of the Model 3). Personal preference. With Air Suspension though, I have a choice for a nice cushy ride if I want it, especially appreciated on long trips. Or, I can stiffen it up for a sportier ride too. I love having the option.

My Model 3 didn't have key fobs, was a huge deal for me as I hated having my phone as a key. This has since been corrected, but was one of the big reasons the 3 annoyed me so much.
Model 3 also now has an automatic truck, which mine didn't. Although, I prefer the hatchback and added space afforded, not just from the size, but from being a hatchback.

For me, I hated everything being controlled in the center screen. Did not like the Horizonal layout. Much prefer the vertical layout where everything is easily readable. Things on the far right of the Model 3 screen are difficult to see at quick glance while driving. I love having my navigation instructions directly in front of me, especially on the tight winding roads I am commonly on.

Little things, like having a simple glove box button was a big deal for me. Much prefer the additional stalks.

Personal preference, I like the wider stance of the Model S. Hated the headlights on the Model 3. Rest of the car looked OK, but was too narrow for my taste.

I also hated the door handles. My hands are commonly full and I love being able to open the Model S with my pinky (all that I have available without setting things down first). Model 3, had to free up an entire hand to open the door.

And again, just overall build quality. While all Tesla's do not remotely compete in terms of actual "Luxury" with the high-end brands, the superior build quaity of the Model S drives more competitively with the higher-end brands. Just a more solid feel in general. The Model S feels like an $80,000 car. The Model 3 feels like a $40,000 car.

Again, most are simply just my personal preferences in a car and what's important to ME. The Model 3 certainly has a technological marvel and really isn't missing much in comparison to the 3, which is what appeals to most seeking to enter the Tesla world. So in that respect, you won't be disappointed with a Model 3. But, if you're coming from a Model S, and any of the above is important to you, or if you love the quality of a larger Mercedes, BMW, Audi, etc, then the Model 3 could disappoint. Just sharing my firsthand comparisons for those that might have similar preferences and tastes to my own.

Model 3 headlights are amazing and everything else about it is as well. Everything you "hate" I love. The 3 is in many ways better than the S due to its simplicity and size/cost. Smaller cars are also more fun to drive. Model S feels like a boat. 3 is much more sporty. Will have to see how the new Plaid compares to say a Model 3 Dual Motor.

New S's are good but can have several issues due to their *premium* features. Old S's are pretty terrible in terms of quality and reliability. My Dad has taken his past two S's to service at least 20+ times. Broken air suspension, pano roof not sealing, door handles not popping out, MCU issues, etc. I took my 3 to service once after I got it for a squeaky steering wheel. Zero issues in 1.5 years.

The coming refresh S looks to definitely be the best S yet but I doubt it will be prone to issues after it comes out (the delay is due to issues they're having)

3 is less complex and cheaper. That is one big reason why it's better than the S.

Just goes to show that different people have different tastes and that's why there are a million different styled cars that apparently, some people love.

My biggest issue with the headlights is the daytime running lamp portion of it. The rest of it is pretty nice. But, for me, that white blob on top was just so out of place. I purposely tinted them because I just couldn't stand looking at them. Again, just my personal taste. On a white car, they don't bother me, but on a black car......., nope! Personally, I actually like the rest of the headlight design. If the DRL was removed and part of the fender / hood (which I photoshopped to see), would have been happy with them.

I had considered buying another seat of headlights to disassemble and paint the inner glass portion over the DRL to match the paint, but sold it instead and bought the S.
 

jeremymc7

Active Member
Feb 3, 2013
2,072
1,142
U.S.
I come in peace.

I'm a Canadian 2019 Model 3 SR+ owner. When looking at the prices for the Model S on tesla.com. I have to think why is the Model S so expensive? What is better on the S than the 3 that requires such a difference in price. Is it just performance and range and larger vehicle? I can buy 2 x Model 3 Performance for the price of one Model S Plaid.. I will admit I have never driven in an S

Just curious...

CDN Prices as of April 1, 2021

Model 3 SR+ - $52,990 ($5,000 Federal tax credit)
Model 3 Long Range - $64,990
Model 3 Performance - $74,990

Model S Long Range - $114,990
Model S Plaid - $159,990
Model S Plaid + - $199,990

Conpare the features, specs, options, and performance of both basic and full spec versions. There is quite a noticeable difference to justify the price.

Audi has $30k sedans and $200k sedans.

Just because they’re both sedans with four doors, four wheels, and are EV doesn’t mean they should be in the same price range.

Eveb something as body panels and frame are built to different levels between them.
 
The price difference is a very fair question and in 2019, there were lots of similar discussions.

The refresh has increased the difference in specs - and also increased the difference in price. But remember back in 2019, an S was the price of the refresh with less features. And the 3 was about the same. So the difference used to be more striking.

It has been mentioned but not fully clarified. Volume reduces cost rather dramatically. The 3 is a higher volume car so gives better value for the same profit margin. And then, usually the higher end car has a higher profit margin.

I think the difference between Tesla and Audi is the drivetrain differences are not that great between a 3 and an S. And then the S is not that much more upmarket in the interior finishes. So, yes Audi has $30k and $200k (really?), but the interior differences are more obvious. More bling.

Lets talk about the similarities - the feel when you push the accelerator is the same until you are trying to scare your passengers with full throttle. The software is the same. The computer is the same (refresh unknown for sure). Most of the features are the same - really just air suspension. The app is the same. The autopilot cameras are the same - along with FSD computer/feature set. Not sure the stereo is terribly different pre-refresh. Range numbers are different and easily quantifiable and justify 5% of the price difference. Supercharging speed is the same.

Whether an S offers value in comparison to the 3 is a very personal decision. We have both and I prefer to drive the 3 when I am alone. Actually I prefer to drive the 3 even with the family but my S is getting old. The S definitely rides smoother.

Much of the "value" of the S is exclusivity and looks. But I would struggle if we were a 3' only family getting large items. People pay a lot for size.
 

Products we're discussing on TMC...

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top