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


Active Member
Feb 3, 2013
Yes Audi have $200K sedan. The upmarket versions of the A8 and I think A9 now or soon.

The interiors more different between the $30k and $200k Audis. Been then so are the creature comforts, safety features, and engines. To a much bigger difference over an S and 3.

The refresh S used a much more complicated and expensive computer. You get 3 screens instead of two. The main screen is larger and higher performance.

The bio hepa filter is much more complicated and expensive.

As is air suspension.

S uses a lot of aluminum. 3 is more steel with some aluminum.

S had option to get 2 jump seats in the back for 7 people that you couldn’t get with a 3.

S has powered hatch with 3 only offering powered trunk 3 years after launch.

Battery and range difference is a fair cost difference. Batteries are still not cheap.

Coameticlly you can look at them and say a S and 3 are so similar so why. But there’s actually quite a good cost difference.

Sure there’s a cost bump for exclusively but that’s also the same between some VW and Auti Models. They share quite a lot of parts bin prices. But the differences don’t justify that difference.

The Audi R8 and Lamborghini share a lot of common cars.

Porsche often de tuned engines within a model range or between various models. So you’re largely paying for just a different software mapping as far as the engine itself goes.

Even with consumer electronics you see the exact same model is make into two different prices modes by just turning off software features in the firmware or using a blank button on a different front case that can still be accessed and work if you switch the remote of drill a hole in the case and press through to the sensor inside.

is there a parts cost difference of $50-$75k between 3 and S, no. Not even at retail. This is similar to other cars and other products. The return on investment or band for buck is less and less as you move up and up. Marketers no some people will pay a lot more for that much have lot more.

As that said there is a notable cost difference to manufacture an S over a 3 when you go through and itemize it all. $50k worth, again not, but still notable, and still in line with what most companies do with their products.

Look at low end 911 and a high end. Or even a high end Boxater and a low end 911.
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Apr 20, 2016
Columbus, OH
People who are capable will often pay to try to impress other people. Many people who are not capable will live beyond their means to try, as well. (Not saying there aren’t any real advantages of the S, but as the OP stated, charging twice as much as the highest end Model 3 does not seem to yield proportionate benefits).
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Active Member
Feb 3, 2013
Agreed. As someone who used to do custom home theater installs for high profile clients. They are often happy to pay 2-3x more to get that extra 5-10%


Jan 15, 2018
La Quinta, Ca
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.
Wow a boat? My S must Be the fasted boat on the planet then. A boat.LOL.
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Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
SF Bay Area
Wow a boat? My S must Be the fasted boat on the planet then. A boat.LOL.

Then you missed this boat comparison! Even Elon tweeted 6/19/16: "We *def* don't recommended this, but Model S floats well enough to turn it into a boat for short periods of time. Thrust via wheel rotation. "

Videos below in these article shows that.
from 2016:
from 2019:

We have both a 2017 Model S and 2018 Model 3. BTW my Model 3 has brought home 8ft lumber pieces and I think even 10ft pvc pipe with trunk closed for projects I was doing. Home Depot one year had this boxed 9ft tall T-Rex Skeleton Dinosaur at halloween time. The box almost fit into our Model S hatchback but the sloped hatchback wouldn't close despite box fitting in. Removed bones from the box and all the huge dino pieces did fit taking up the entire back section with seat down. But fit! Could not have done the same in my Model 3 however. Love cargo space on the MS for bulker things.


I love our Model S every time I'm in it and it's a great trip car from comfort to cargo space. Absolutely love the HEPA bio defense mode air filtration and used it all the time in the several years of wildfires we drove past. The Model 3 is still pretty good in filtering but not like the Model S. No detectable smell of smoke whatsoever. For me I do find my Model 3 easier to park but probably just not as use to the Model S as it's been my husband's daily driver since getting the Model 3. Each car is great in it's own respect but I'd definitely say our Model S was worth the extra money. I think we would probably keep both model versions if one of the cars was in an accident and needed to be replaced. Best of both worlds!
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Active Member
Feb 3, 2013
Honestly I wish that Model 3 had bio defense. As someone who has 4+ allergies to dust, grass, trees, and smoke it would be good.

Before I got rid of all carpet in the house and switched to hardwood, added better then hepa IQair filters in the whole house $5k worth I kept getting sick all the time.

Even on recirculating the Model 3 still lets in to much.

I’ve added the IQair portable filter to the inside of the and it’s made all the difference.

Totally worth it for $400 Model 3 upgrade.

IQ AIR HEPA+ Car Air Purifier

IQAir Atem Car Portable HEPA Air Purifier, Filters for Pollution, Odors, Gases, Car Fumes, and Asthma, Great for Travel or Daily Commute https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07LFQ97MQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_B060JYQJDB3D6JCJ37TA


Supporting Member
Aug 1, 2015
Everything is bigger and thus more expensive. A big part is the larger battery and more powerful drive motors. More interior space to heat, so a bigger air conditioner and heater (I assume). Bigger wheels, bigger suspension parts for the greater weight, bigger tires, more glass, more aluminum, more upholstery, etc. And a smaller number of units over which to spread the fixed costs.

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