• Jan 2, 2011
Tesla Model S – Click above for high-res image gallery

It's not exactly a surprise that battery costs for electric vehicles will go down over time, but the big question is by how much and how fast. Tesla Motors, which uses small lithium-ion cells similar to the kind found in laptop computers, believes that lithium-ion pack costs will be low enough to make the $57,000 Model S profitable even though it'll likely sell in smaller numbers than all-electric competitors like the Nissan Leaf.

That's what Tesla's chief technology officer J.B. Straubel told Bloomberg, adding that Nissan has "a cost challenge that will be more difficult to solve. It will require a lot higher volume before they really get to a cost point that is internally sustainable." Nissan, of course, paints a different picture because it has been developing li-ion technology for almost two decades, but there you have it.

Nissan's annual sales target for the Leaf, once full production gets going, is in the hundred-thousands, while Tesla hopes to sell around 20,000 units of the Model S a year. The big difference is in the price per kilowatt hour (kWh). Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard told Bloomberg recently that he thinks Tesla's battery packs might cost just $200 per kWH, while the large-format cells in the Leaf (and most other plug-in vehicles) could cost around $700 to $800 per kWh. Nissan has previously said the Leaf pack costs just under $750 per kWh.

[Source: Bloomberg]


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  • 32 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      For that money you can buy a nice 2011 Jetta 2.5 and have more than enough money left over for a lot of fuel and repairs if needed down the road, and not worry about your battery level. Electriccars suck.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So the Tesla batteries will be 1/4 the price of the Leafs batteries, lets see $19,000 for the Leaf and $56,000 for the Tesla $37,000 diffence.
      Yet the Tesla engineer, not the sales people say Nissan will be challenged with the cost of the batterries, again $19,000 for the Leaf and $56,000 for the Tesla $37,000 difference, then the Tesla engineer quoted the Nissan statement not some revalation that Tesla came up with? I would think the Tesla company should have thier marketing guys talk to the press not the engineers so they will not look so bad.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Tesla web site, base price for S $49,000 - $7500 tax credit=$41,500
        Nissan web site, base price for Leaf $32,780 - $7500 = $25,280
        $16,220 difference.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The base price for the Model S is $56,500, not $49,000. You can see this by the asterisk on the website that says "base price includes $7500 US Federal tax credit".

        https://www.teslamotors.com/own?model=ms
      • 4 Years Ago
      Very good looking car.
      This is the kind of Electric I would buy........if it was more affordable.

      I really hope Tesla can make it through the electric era, which is not far away
      Great job Tesla
      • 4 Years Ago
      Seriously, I'd rather get a Model S than a Volt. Looks delicious.
        • 4 Years Ago
        For anyone that cares, Insideline did a comparison of the Volt and the Prius.

        http://www.insideline.com/chevrolet/volt/2011/comparison-test-2011-chevrolet-volt-vs-2010-toyota-prius-phv.html
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't know Spin cycle. Using just the Volt's battery wouldn't be practical for my commute since I drive more than 20 miles both ways. As a technological experiment it may be useful for GM. But I believe that as a consumer, there are better choices out there. I can only speak for myself, but if I had the cash to burn it wouldn't be going to the Volt. Practically, it's too expensive to replace a hybrid. As a technological leap, I don't think it pushes the case for all electrical vehicles as much as the base Model S, which can go 160 miles with its battery compared to 35 miles with the Volt. If they can improve upon the technology or make it less expensive, GM might have something. Right now, they still have some work to do.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sierra, if you just want a hybrid that saves gas, a Prius is a good choice. It's an excellent car.

        But it can't go anywhere without using gas. A Volt can for most people on many days, use zero gas. This is a significant advantage over a Prius or a Fusion Hybrid.

        Yes, the Volt is expensive, I agree it's a problem. But if you want to commute without using gas, you're going to have to pay to play.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I was comparing it in terms of prices. I'd rather buy a Model S than a Volt. Without the tax credit a Volt is in the $40,000 range. I know everyone already knows the Volt is butt ugly compared to the Model S.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well who wouldn't?

        That is like saying you would rather get Aston DB9 than a Chevy Cobalt.
        • 4 Years Ago
        A Volt can go only 35 miles with its batteries. The Model S should go farther than that even with its base model. A Volt needs the gas engine to be a viable transportation vehicle. But if I wanted a hybrid I'd rather get a Prius or a Ford.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wasn't really trying not to compare the two with my initial comment. I was just making a statement on my own preference. I was just saying for that price range, I'd rather go for the Tesla. At least I know I'm paying for luxury and not an overpriced Fusion / Prius.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Really? That's your argument - that this car can go further than the Volt, using battery-only power? Put it this way...for $56K+, I'd friggin' HOPE it goes a LOT further than 40 miles...but comparing it to the Volt? Well, using the gas engine, the Volt keeps on going. This doesn't. Plan your trip well!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Volt was touted to be the "electric vehicle" that would save GM. I don't see what the Volt ($40000 without tax breaks) is superior at. I find it pales in comparison to a "true" electric vehicle in the Model S ($57,000 without tax breaks) if you intend to buy for the battery range (Never mind the luxury, performance, design, technology etc..). It also fails against the Prius and the Fusion in terms of value if you want to add the gas engine (Around $20,000).

        If I had the cash to buy a Volt, I'd wait a bit longer and save up for a Model S. If I was just looking to save on gas, I'd buy a Prius or Fusion hybrid. The Volt is really disappointing when compared to its peers.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wish we could get a 5-door sedan that looked that good with a normal drivetrain, for a normal price. I'd love that car with a 3.6 boxer engine, and symmetrical 6-speed manual or DSG AWD. The Subaru Legacy is nowhere NEAR that good looking.

      If it has to be something other, it should be turbine-generated on-board, for electric selectable 2WD/AWD drivetrain. Maybe not as extravagantly presented as the Jag CX-75, but similar in technical theory.

      Even an LPG-burning steady-state rotary generator.... something interesting that has some range, and an absolute minimum of lithium batteries on-board. Maybe an electrical buffer of supercapacitors, instead of highly-flamable batteries.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Model S isn't competition for the Leaf or Volt.

      It's mainly aimed at the BMW 5-series crowd.

      Tesla has plans for a cheaper electric car after the Model S is in production.

      That cheaper electric car ($20,000-$30,000) will directly compete against the Leaf, Volt and whatever electric vehicles are available in 2012-2013.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_BlueStar

      And they don't just earn money from selling their small Roadster sports car. They do consulting and electric power conversion work for other larger car manufacturers.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Thats a good looking ev
        • 4 Years Ago
        Overall, yes, but I think I'm seeing a little too much Chrysler Concorde in that profile of the front end. I'm hoping it's just the angle, but... those headlights are a near dead ringer
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed, very attractive and looks like it will handle well. It will be profitable because they are hitting the niche right. Many early adopters will be affluent and would rather spend $20k more for a car like this than tool around in something that looks like the Leaf or even the Volt. This will be a second car for many people and this looks much better next to the Land Cruisers and Range Rovers that will guilt many into buying them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nice, almost like a Aston Martin Vantage evolution since Frisker did it. They probably had the Mazda guy streamline it and got rid of the ugly grill fetish that Frisker seems to love so much.

      But the rims seem like a horrible Chinese knock off of the Mclaren SLR.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They look like Lorinser aftermarket MB wheels. Considering that MB has a stake in Tesla, it might use MB hubs and bolt-pattern... which would make MB and aftermarket MB-pattern wheels fit.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So the Tesla Model S at $57K will make money when they cannot make money when their existing car costs $100K. I'll believe it when I see it. I wonder if he is talking about making gross profit or net profit. Big difference. You can't really trust the accounting skills of the Silicon Valley types.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I have to join usa1 in being a skeptic. Tesla has not lived up to their claims in the past, and I have a hard time seeing how they will make money on the Model S. I hope they do, but I'll believe it when I see it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Tesla amortizes their R&D costs over future vehicles. If they only made the Roadster and had to cost-account every expense of developing it (indeed every expense the entire company incurs) to just that vehicle, I don't think you'd see it being a profitable venture.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Tesla is making 30% gross margin on the Roadsters. They are posting quarterly losses because of the heavy investment into future products (Model S). If Tesla just made the roadster, it would be one of the most profitable car companies ever in terms of profit per car.
      • 4 Years Ago
      kinda bad front end design. they need a spot for a license plate and small ducts so that they can get ac, but the big grille is not good, bad for ddddrag
      • 4 Years Ago
      My guess is their warranty cost will go up. GM and Nissan have more than just batteries that work, they've test them for long term typical "don't know jack about car care" owners.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That thing looks good.

      They should borrow a sporty powertrain from some manufacturer and sell that version alongside by side with the EV...(before you berate be, i know it may not be possible to the company's founding ideals)... cos i love the way that looks but i hate EVs.. and i am sure i am not the only one

        • 4 Years Ago
        Vinny, have you ever driven an EV? Or a Tesla? How do you know you hate them?

        Also an IC engine will never work in a Model S. The floor is flat so you can't package a driveshaft or transmission.

        I also highly doubt any Model S will sell for 57k. That's like saying you can buy a 5 series with no options...
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