How to own a Tesla even if you don’t think you can afford one on paper

This week Tesla launch their ‘more affordable’ Model 3 in the UK.

Whilst Tesla vehicles are definitely not a cheap purchase, relative to their new petrol equivalents over say a 5 year ownership period they do become fairly good value thanks to the fuel savings and low maintenance costs.

Even so, it’s still a £32,000-£55,000 car which even if you lease/finance/PCP etc, is still a decent chunk of cash each month which for most of us is still pushing the boundaries of what we can get away.

So here are my top tips on how to reduce the total cost of Tesla ownership so you can afford to buy one:

Saving #1: Get ~7,659 miles (hopefully far more) of free charging before you start

  • Tesla will give you 5,000 miles of free supercharging when you use a referral code (mine is http://ts.la/william9175)
  • Bulb Energy will give you the equivalent of ~2,329 miles of charging (aka £50) when you move to them via a referral code (here is my referral code http://bulb.co.uk/refer/william372)
  • Get ~330 miles of free energy from Chargemaster + 3 months of FREE charging on their Polar network to test it out. If you want a referral code so we both get the £10 in credit, simply send me a message.
  • See if your workplace will provide you with a place to charge for FREE, thanks to Tesla incentives &/or Government grants your workplace should be able to claim a free bank of chargers or more likely a set of heavily discounted chargers. If you guide them in this process and inform them of this free/cheap incentive (which will look great on their impact/environmental reports/employee bonus structure) then all of a sudden you’ve dramatically reduced your cost of charging. Learn more | Tesla Free Workplace Charging Scheme
  • Find a local free charging spot, whether it’s at a supermarket, favourite local restaurant or similar you might have one locally which will save you money. Use PlugShare to hopefully find one.
  • Once you’ve ordered your Tesla, you can start referring your work colleagues etc, and in return, you will get 5,000 free miles of supercharging for each friend you refer.

Saving #2: Properly work out the fuel savings

You may be shocked, to fill up a Long Range Model 3 (which gives you around 300 miles of range) it will cost you £6.44 (based on 7.81p/kWh and a 75kWh battery with 10% conversion loss, using an off-peak renewable home energy tariff from Bulb).

The same amount of miles in a similar performance car (BMW M3) would cost you £77.50 (based on a real-life MPG of 21.1 and a fuel price of 119.9p/litre), even if we go by the official 34.0mpg rating for the BMW M3 you’re still looking at £48.09 for the same amount of miles.

Saving #3: Plan for your car to go and earn it’s own income when you don’t need it (Think Uber + AirBnb’ing your car at the same time)

OK, so I admit this is pushing what can be done currently but it certainly could be a longterm goal with the car. This is pending validation, testing and legal approval, however, all Tesla vehicles built today have the capability of being RoboTaxi’s in the future, for us mere mortals that means the car can transform into a fully autonomous taxi service that requires little input from you as the owner.

Basically, you would park up at work/home and then continue on your day, open the Tesla app and add your car to the RoboTaxi network, your car would go out and earn money for you. Tesla will take 25 percent to 30 percent of the income but you keep the rest, with estimates showing ~£23,000 could be generated off the scheme each year!

Whilst we wait for FSD features, you can still use #4 to make money from your car.

“It’s financially insane to buy anything but a Tesla,” 

Elon Musk – 2019

Saving #4: Rent it out (ideally when you’re not using it) to paying customers to claw back some money each month

Turo allows you to place your Tesla Model 3 on their platform, then verified and fully insured people pay (a premium) to rent your Model 3 for a day, a week or longer. It’s ideal for wealthy travellers, those that want a sexy wedding car, those that fancy a trip away but don’t own a car or those that want to experience a Tesla for the first time.

Most Popular Cars on Turo in 2018 – Considering many didn’t even own their Model 3 until the middle of 2018 they’ve done pretty well.

You earn 65% to 85% of the total trip price, the car + driver is fully insured by Turo, there is a 24/7 support line should anything go wrong and all travellers are screened before they can request to book your car.

As the car owner you don’t have to do much, simply take some great photos, update the calendar to show when the car can and cannot be rented, meet your renters (or get someone else to), take photos before & after each trip and that’s about it. At the moment it’s unclear if Turo will allow UK Model 3s but considering it’s one of their most popular cars on the Turo app in the US it would massively surprise me if this wasn’t the case.

Other companies to try: Drivy & HiyaCar

Saving #5: Uber / Drive for money in your spare time

Now this isn’t really going to work if you already have a full-time job and certainly isn’t an easy process to get started with (considering you most likely will need local council licences and need superior insurance etc but it could work but probably would require more than a few hours a week to make it worthwhile.

What you can do easily is work as a wedding car driver, as long as you have the bride or groom in the car at any one time you don’t need any special licence etc from your council and can earn an income.

Saving #6: Claim the £3,500 grant

Currently, you will get the UK Plug-in Car Grant of £3,500 off the purchase price of any fully electric car including the Tesla Model 3. The grant is automatically claimed when you go to check out on Tesla.com.

Sadly this grant amount is normally shown on the Tesla website so it’s not surprise.

Saving #7: Claim the 5,000-mile free supercharging bonus

As discussed in #1, if you use my Tesla referral code then Tesla will give us both 5,000 free miles of supercharging. My code is http://ts.la/william9175 – simply click the link and then go to order the car and the discount will be applied at checkout.

Saving #8: Up to £2990 saving a year by claiming FREE (£10 one-off sign up payment) London Congestion Charge Exemption

Of course, this only applies if you visit London often but instead of paying £11.50 every day to drive into London you can claim exemption! The same is true of the Central London ULEZ zone charge from 2021 which over a year could save you another £3,250 a year.