By Ariel Schwartz
Don't have the $62,400 starting price for a Tesla Model S electric vehicle (that's Automobile magazine's Car of the Year)? Elon Musk's upscale EV startup just made it easier for you to get one anyway. Tesla announced on April 2 that it has created "a revolutionary automotive financing product"--a hybrid of ownership and leasing.
Here's how it works: Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank will shell out 10% down financing for customers who want to buy a Model S, covered entirely by state and federal tax credits. Once 36 months have passed, owners have the option to sell the Model S back to Tesla for "the same residual value percentage as the iconic Mercedes S Class, one of the finest premium sedans in the world," according to Tesla. That's 43% of the purchase price.
Tesla says that true cost of owning a mid-range Model S with the new plan is less than $500 per month, when savings from swapping gasoline for electricity and depreciation benefits are taken into account. That's an impressive claim, and it's not necessarily true. If you want to see how much you'd actually pay per month, check out Tesla's True Cost of Ownership calculator. Take it from someone who has been behind the wheel of a Model S: if you can get a reasonable deal, it's worth it.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.