1. They can be pricey

Newport Beach, California / United States of America - April 18 2018: Midnight Silver Metallic Tesla Model 3 and Signature Red Model S Displayed At the Fashion Island Showroom.
Eakrat / Shutterstock
A red Tesla Model S sits next to a silver Tesla Model S at a showroom in Newport Beach, California.

Tesla offers four models.

The lineup begins with the Model 3, now starting at $35,000. That has been Tesla's target price for the Model 3 all along, though it was selling the basic version for as much as $49,000. Current Model 3 prices range up to $58,000 for the "performance" version.

Next is the Model S, a full-sized sedan, ranging in price from $79,000 to $114,000, before incentives.

The Model X is similar to the Model S but is housed in SUV styling. Before incentives, you'll pay anywhere from $88,000 to $119,000.

Last is the iconic Tesla Roadster. It boasts the highest range, and is touted as the fastest production car — electric or not — with a top speed of 250 mph. Its list price is $200,000.

2. The purchase process is ... well, different

BERLIN, GERMANY - April 22, 2016: Tesla Model S in Tesla store in Berlin. Tesla is an American company that designs, manufactures, and sells electric cars.
Kaspars Grinvalds / Shutterstock
Teslas are on backorder -- you can't just drive one out of a dealership.

Note that the list prices are essentially the only prices when it comes to buying a Tesla. Forget about haggling or waiting for a manager to approve a better deal.

It's very different from routine car buying but is similar to shopping for any in-demand luxury brand. Would you try to talk an Apple genius down on the price of a new iPhone? Good luck with that.

To buy a Tesla, you must order it online and choose your options, then wait for your custom-built car to be delivered from the factory in California. You don't just go to a lot and take a vehicle off a dealer's hands.

But whenever you have to special-order a car, you can expect to pay list price.

Tesla has been offering consumers the chance to have a look at its products in stores, often located within upscale malls. But the company is planning to close many of its stores in 2019.

3. Ownership has pros and cons

VESTEC, CZECH REPUBLIC - SEPTEMBER 23, 2017. Young woman joins a car to the Supercharger Tesla station.
Nadezda Murmakova / Shutterstock

If you like dickering with a car dealer, Tesla's haggle-free buying might put you off. The process and wait time beg the question: Are you sure you even want to buy a Tesla?

To answer, consider:

  • Depreciation. All cars lose value, starting with the 10% or so that you lose just driving it home. According to user forums, Teslas depreciate just like other cars, maybe even more.
  • The benefits and costs of going electric. You'll save on gasoline, though in some areas the increase in your electric bill from charging your car every night might cost just as much as fuel fill-ups.
  • Tax savings. Buyers have been eligible for a federal tax credit, which reduces the effective cost. But the credit has shrunk from $7,500 to $3,750, and it dwindles to $1,875 for people who buy Teslas during the second half of 2019. Depending on where you live, you also may be eligible for state tax benefits.

About the Author

Richard Glunt

Richard Glunt

Freelance Contributor

Richard is a personal finance enthusiast and freelance contributor to MoneyWise. He lives in Milwaukee with his wife Eugene and two children Cole and Abby.

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