FOCUS ON: Tesla
Tesla has spent the past few years proving to mainstream car makers that electric vehicles can be desirable. The Model S was launched in 2012, a good five years ahead of its time.
The trouble is, the likes of Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz now have premium EVs of their own. Does Tesla still offer something the automotive establishment doesn’t?
This is usually the part of ‘Focus on…’ in which we assess the variety of high-tech engines, electrified powertrains and pure EVs that a company produces. However, Tesla is all about EVs and always has been.
✪ STAR CAR ✪
WHAT IS IT?
Tesla’s affordable compact exec.
WHAT IS IT POWERED BY?
A single electric motor if you go for the rear-wheel-drive model, twin motors if you choose a four-wheel drive.
HOW FAR WILL IT GO ON A CHARGE?
254-348 miles (WLTP), depending on the spec.
HOW FAR WILL IT GO?
144 miles per charge (WLTP).
IS IT TAX-EFFICIENT?
Oh yes. It sits in the 0% tax bracket for 2020/21.
Today’s line-up consists of three cars; the Model S, Model X and Model 3. All are zero-tailpipe-emission vehicles, and will qualify for the 0% BIK banding for the 2020/21 tax year. That will rise to 1% in 2021/22, and 2% in 2022/23.
The executive-sized Model S saloon is available in Long Range or Performance versions. Go for the Long Range model and the car achieves 375 miles (WLTP) on a full charge. There’s a powerful motor for each axle, making the Model S four-wheel drive, and contributing to a claimed 0-60mph time of just 3.7 seconds.
If that’s too slow for you, and you can persuade the CFO that the jump in price from £77,200 to £91,800 is good value for money, the Performance model drops the 0-60mph sprint to just 2.4 seconds. The range drops only slightly, to 365 miles, but the Long Range model has to be the more sensible choice.
The Model X is Tesla’s large SUV. Again, there are Long Range (315 miles, 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds) and Performance versions (300 miles, 2.7 seconds), priced at £82,200 and £96,400 respectively.
The latest Tesla is the Model 3, the long-awaited ‘affordable’ Tesla, priced from £36,490 for the rear-wheel-drive version. After testing the new car, we concluded: “The Model 3 has the range, pricing, tech, handling and performance to bring another raft of converts into the EV fold.”
TESLA VERSUS THE REST
A couple of years ago, Tesla had the premium EV market all to itself. Now, however, there are more and more pure EVs for directors with a healthy leasing budget to choose between.
The Jaguar I-Pace is priced from £64,495, hugely undercutting the Model X, and so costing less in BIK most years (not so in 2020/21, because 0% of any P11D value is still £0). It’s not as quick as the Model X (0-60mph takes 4.5 seconds) and the range is shorter (292 miles). However, the Jaguar fights back with a far more comprehensive dealer network, whereas Tesla has shifted to an online sales model.
The new electric SUVs from Audi and Mercedes, the E-tron (£71,560) and EQC (£65,720), also undercut the Model X. These price advantages are reflected in significantly lower leasing rates. The entry-level Model X costs £794 + VAT per month from SelectCarLeasing.co.uk. However, the most affordable I-Pace is £384 + VAT and the E-tron starts from £496 + VAT.
However, Tesla has the advantage of the Supercharger network, which offers ultra-rapid charging at around 50 locations across the UK. Rival ultra-rapid networks such as IONITY are still playing catch-up, so for now this is an advantage to choosing a Tesla for high-mileage business drivers.
Tesla’s three-model range is due to be expanded by the arrival of two new cars during 2020/21.
The Model Y (pictured) is a mid-sized SUV, smaller and more affordable than the X. UK pricing has not been set, but Tesla is aiming for an entry point of $39,000 in the US (£31,225 at today’s exchange rate).
Soon after the Model Y, Tesla plans to introduce its new Roadster, claimed to be the world’s fastest production car with a top speed of more than 250mph and a range of 620 miles.