This Guy Demonstrates How You Can Drive a Tesla Model S for Free For A Year and a Half

Tesla Model S 1 photo
Photo: Catalin Garmacea
We’re pretty sure that nobody on Earth would say no to a free ride in a Tesla Model S for like...18 months. That’s right, this guy drove his Tesla Model S for free since the day he bought it and he has arguments to back that up.
In an age where cost-reduction is on everybody’s minds, what would be better than being able to drive a car for free? And by car we mean a Tesla Model S, not just any closet on wheels. Tesla Forums user LeonardV managed to do just that with his own Model S for the last 18 months and he also has an explanation for how he made it.

First of all, you need to know that - let’s call him Leonard - purchased his Model S in September 2013 for $96,000, a price tag that includes California sales tax. He also received a $7,500 Federal tax credit and the Model S was also eligible for a $2,500 California rebate for new EVs. Draw a line, do the math and you’ll find out that the final purchase cost was down to $86,000.

By now, we bet you figured out that there’s a catch in all this story, right? Still, you must read Leonard’s full argument as things get really interesting. So, if he wanted to sell the car, the current market would allow him to receive around $77,000 which is quite a good price if you ask us, given the fact that he drove the car for 53,000 miles so far. This also means that the car would only witness $9,000 of depreciation.

He also takes into consideration the car’s loan, which includes a 2% APR interest - translated into $2,400 for the entire period of ownership. This is where expenditure stops, according to Leonard, at a total cost of $11,400, but he benefits from free EV charging in the garage where he parks and uses superchargers for long-distance trips.

According to his post, Leonard did not pay for any service to the vehicle so far, as the car only went to service centers for warranty issues and free tire rotations. In fact, Leonard says that “I happen to believe the car requires much less servicing than what Tesla recommends, and warranties are not affected either way [...].”

Now, the Model S owner estimates that if he drove an internal-combustion car, he would have spent $9,300 on fuel and $2,200 on maintenance over 18 months. That is if we considered the car’s returned fuel consumption was around 20 mpg and he would have to pay $3.50 per gallon on an average. Add these two up and the result is $11,500, not $11,400 as the user miscalculated in his post.

To make a better idea, here’s a simplified version of Leonard’s logic:

Depreciation 9,000
Interest 2,400
Total Costs 11,400

Savings from not operating ICE car
Fuel 9,300
Service 2,200
Total Savings 11,500

So, do you agree with him or do you think this is just a special, isolated case since Californian infrastructure help this Tesla Model S owner save a lot of cash? Is his argument solid?
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