Electric cars are largely comparable to conventional fossil fuel cars, so normal vehicle purchasing considerations apply:
Price - Is this Tesla model affordable for you? Does it fit in with your monthly budget?
Size - How big is it internally (for practicality and comfort) and externally? (for ease of driving and parking)
Features - What in-car features can you live without and what specs are must-haves?
Styling - Do you like the look of the vehicle? Can you get in your preferred colour?
Safety - How safe is the vehicle? What safety assists does it have to help drivers?
Reviews - What's the Tesla like on public roads? How did car reviewers sum up their experience driving one? Does it have any common flaws?
Unlike Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles - with battery electric cars you can't just quickly pull into a petrol station, brim the tank and leave within a few minutes. Electric cars take a little time to recharge. Range becomes extremely important then - this is the distance you can travel on a single charge of the battery. It's equivalent to the size of a fuel tank on ICE cars - the bigger the tank, the further you can travel.
You might be surprised by just how far Tesla electric vehicles can travel right now. The Tesla Model S Long Range can, according to the company, drive 663 kilometres on one charge (using the NEDC testing standard).
The Tesla model range
Model S Sedan
First introduced in Australia in September 2014, the Model S has many passenger comforts without compromising on speed. The Long Range Model S can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds, making it one of the fastest accelerating vehicles in production. The performance Plaid version will zip to 100km/h in a dizzying 2.1 seconds. Automatic features of the Model S Sedan include lane changing and Autopark. A sleek aerodynamic design coupled with futuristic tech makes for an impressive vehicle.
The Model S has dual motors and an AWD drivetrain. Independent motors individually control torque to the front and rear wheels for astounding traction.
0 to 100 in as little as 3.2 seconds (for the Long Range Model S), or 2.1 seconds (Tesla excludes rollout, which would increase acceleration time)
Dual motor system marries high performance and efficiency
The electric battery is positioned in its own underfloor subframe, reducing the centre of gravity and improving handling, while some critical parts of the car are made from boron steel to absorb impacts and protect occupants. In the event of an accident, the high-voltage power source is automatically disconnected and passengers in both the front and rear are protected by six airbags.
Other safety features include:
Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Blind Spot Monitoring
Lane Support Systems (LSS)
Digital speed limit display
ISOFIX child seat attachments
High definition reverse camera
A heap of included features makes the Model S a luxury sedan.
Most noticeable is the Model S's 17-inch touchscreen control panel that you can use to open the roof, adjust climate control, check the map, change the radio station, make hands-free phone calls and personalise your driving experience, all seamlessly integrated alongside essential vehicle data and control systems. The display has a 2,200 x 1,300 resolution.
Other features include:
On-demand Internet radio, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity
Real-time traffic information through Google Maps
Smart navigation and routing which adjusts to traffic conditions
Retracting interior door handles
Power-adjustable driver's seat and mirrors with memory
Front trunk, rear trunk and 60/40 folding rear seats for 793 litres of storage
Model X SUV
The Tesla Model X is one of the safest and fastest SUVs ever made. Some Model X variants accelerate from 0 to 100 in 3.9 seconds, while having seating for up to seven people. It also delivers an uncompromising blend of safety, utility and performance. With the addition of Tesla's cutting-edge Autopilot features, the Model X will leave other SUV drivers envious.
Driveway pricing for the Model X starts from $182,784.
A relative featherweight SUV, the Tesla Model X weighs only around 250kg more than the Model S sedan. Like the S, the Model X favours a low centre of gravity achieved with a floor-mounted battery and boasts a rollover risk of about half that of other vehicles in its class. It's also the most aerodynamic SUV currently in production, with a drag coefficient 20% lower than the number two, and an active spoiler that deploys from the rear tailgate for optimum stability at high speeds.
Model X Performance metrics:
0 to 100km/h in as little as 2.6 seconds (Tesla Model X Plaid)
Drag coefficient of 0.25Cd
Electric all-wheel drive for maximum grip and traction
186mm clearance (137mm to 211mm with optional air suspension)
2,268kg towing capacity
2,577-litres storage capacity
The Model X scored highly on the ANCAP crash test. The entire front trunk in the Model X is turned into an impact-absorbing crumple zone for a new level of protection in head-on collisions, while the Autopilot features and other onboard safety systems mean the Model X has capabilities that other vehicles don't currently possess.
Model X safety features:
Active side collision avoidance systems and Automatic Emergency Braking, even at highway speeds
Parking sensors and blind-spot warnings
Full LED headlights
Four LATCH child seat attachments
Medical-grade HEPA-filtered cabin air system
Extreme side impact protection with the battery support structure
The Model X is an innovative SUV, featuring the largest all-glass panoramic windscreen in production with solar tinting and visibility-focused design principles, so driver and passenger alike can enjoy a relatively unhindered view of the road, their surroundings and the sky above.
Tesla Model X highlights
Seating for up to seven people (five seats as standard)
Automatic door opening and closing
Vented front seating
Tri-zone cabin conditioning
1 year premium connectivity included for free
Independently reclining mid-row seats and flat folding third-row seats that let you optimise the Model X for comfort and space
Automatic keyless entry
Falcon-wing doors that open upwards with only a foot of clearance, just like the car from Back to the Future
Front trunk for extra storage space
22-speaker audio system
Model 3 Sedan
The Tesla Model 3 is currently the cheapest available Tesla. The Model 3 is a sedan and it's smaller than the Model S. It has a reported range of 508Km (NEDC) and a top speed of 225km/h. Acceleration (0-100km/h) ranges from 5.6 seconds (Standard Range Plus) to 3.3 seconds on the Model 3 Performance (with the first foot rollout subtracted).
Like other Teslas, the Model 3 can update software over-the-air using WiFi.
The Model 3 weighs between 1,726 and 1,847kg - making it the lighter of the currently available Tesla models.
Tesla Model 3 performance highlights
0 to 100km/h in 3.3 seconds on the Model 3 Performance
Drag coefficient of just 0.23Cd
Available as a RWD (Standard Range Plus), or Dual-motor All-Wheel Drive (Long Range and Performance)
Top speed varies from 225km/h to 261km/h
The Tesla Model 3 has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating. On Adult Occupant Protection, it scored 96%, for Child Occupant Protection 87%, for Vulnerable Road User (VRU) protection 74% and ANCAP rated the Model 3's safety assists at 94%.
Safety features include:
Lane Support Systems
Automatic Emergency Braking
Steel/aluminium body shell that has been shown to withstand the weight of as much as two Adult African elephants
Tesla claims the Model 3 has a "very low rollover risk" thanks to the battery location and weight
Though smaller than the Model S and X, the Model 3 is still practical. It has:
542 litres of storage space across the boot and the front trunk.
A glass roof, with UV protection
The ability to restore an estimated 299-kilometres of range in 15 minutes when using a Tesla Supercharger
A 15-inch touchscreen
A smartphone app that turns your device into a key
Room for charging two smartphones in the front centre console
As of June 2021, the Tesla Model 3 has a starting driveaway price of $67,798 for NSW postcode 2000, rising to $100,511 for the Performance Model 3.
Model Y crossover
Tesla's Model Y is an upcoming compact crossover, with the ability to seat seven (when an optional third-row seat pack is fitted). The Model Y is reportedly expected to launch between Q4 of 2021 and Q1 of 2022. The Model Y is based on the Model 3's underlying architecture.
It seems there will be two Model Y variants on sale:
Performance - which blasts from 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds (excluding rollout), with a range of 480km WLTP. Top speed is listed as 241 km/h. This Model Y has 21-inch rims and weighs 2,003kg.
The Model Y Long Range AWD weighs the same as the Performance model but has an extended range of up to 505km (WLTP). Acceleration is 5.1 seconds for this model. Top speed is listed as 217 km/h.
According to Tesla's Australian website, the Model Y has the following performance features:
Dual electric motors AWD
Estimated WLTP range of 505km
0-100km/h time of 3.7 seconds
The Model Y hasn't yet been crash-tested in Australia, by ANCAP. The Model Y product page indicates it takes a similar approach to construction as other Tesla models. That includes impact protection (with a crumple zone), a low centre of mass and a rigid body shell.
Other safety features include:
12 ultrasonic sensors
The Model Y has the following features:
Cargo storage volume of 1.9m³
WiFi over-the-air updates
Glass roof with UV protection and additional headroom
Optional third-row of seats
We'll confirm the pricing for the Model Y when it's announced.
The revolutionary and disruptive Cybertruck is Tesla's ute. There's been some speculation as to if it will even be made available in Australia. Musk has flip-flopped on whether Australia will get the big ute, with the last comment from him coming via a Twitter response. Musk tweeted, in reply to an Aussie Tesla owner petitioning for the Cybertruck, saying "If it passes Australian regulations, then sure".
The Cybertruck isn't confirmed for Australia then, but it is listed on the Tesla AU website, (though specs are for US models).
Specs are insane for the Cybertruck. It has up to 16-inch ground clearance, air suspension and a bonkers towing capacity. The payload goes up to 1,587kg!
There are three Cybertruck models on the Tesla AU website:
Single Motor RWD: A RWD ute with a US range of 402km and a towing capacity equivalent to 3,401.94kg.
Dual Motor AWD: The Dual Motor AWD Cybertruck has a US range of 482.80km. Towing capacity is listed as 4,535.92kg!
Tri Motor AWD: A Cybertruck with three electric motors. It can reportedly tow up to 6,350kg! The US model's range estimate converts to 804km!
The Cybertruck hasn't received an official crash test rating in Australia yet.
Safety features include:
An exoskeleton (that Tesla claims is almost impenetrable)
Super hard cold-rolled stainless steel structural outer skin
Tesla armoured glass
Tesla Autopilot driver assistance
As a ute, the Cybertruck sounds thoroughly practical:
Tray length: 6.5 ft
Air suspension as standard
We'll confirm Tesla Cybertruck pricing if and when it is confirmed for Australia.
Customising your new Tesla
You can customise your Tesla with the following options:
Choose your variant:
Model S Long Range, dual-motor AWD 664km (NEDC) range
Model X Long Range, dual-motor AWD 580km (NEDC) range
Model 3 Standard Range Plus, RWD 508km range (NEDC)
Model S Plaid tri-motor AWD 628km (NEDC) range
Model X Plaid, tri-motor AWD 547km (NEDC) range
Model 3 Long Range, dual-motor AWD (657km NEDC range)
Model 3 Performance, dual-motor AWD (628km NEDC range)
And choose your advanced features:
Available with Model S?
Available with Model X?
Available on the Model 3?
Wheel upgrade - Change the look of your Tesla
21-inch Arachnid wheels - $5,000
22-inch Turbine wheels - $6,400
19-inch Sport Wheels ($2,200)
Wheel upgrades make the Tesla model look more modern, but they aren't cheap!
Interior - Change the colour of the interior
Black and white - $2,900
Cream - $2,900
Black and White- $2,900
Cream - $2,900
Black and White interior - $1,500
Again, it's not necessary, but some Tesla buyers will appreciate the ability to customise the vehicle to their personal preference
Full Self-Driving Capability - Unlocks things like automatic lane change, summoning, self-driving computer, plus traffic light and stop sign recognition (among others)
This is the most pricey option for the Tesla and it currently requires the driver to supervise the vehicle, so it's not a true self-driving vehicle
Paint - Change the colour of your Tesla
All paints are $2,200, apart from Red Multi-Coat ($3,700)
All paints are $2,200, apart from Red Multi-Coat ($3,700)
$1,500 for all optional colours, apart form Red Multi-Coat ($2,900)
Colour makes no difference to the function of your vehicle - but buyers appreciate the ability to tweak the exterior look
Five seats - No cost
Six seats - $9,400
Seven seats - $5,100
Large families especially appreciate the extra seats on a Tesla Model X.
What Tesla drivers wish they knew before buying
Teslas are different. A lot of drivers report that it takes a bit of time to adapt to the electric vehicles, but once you do it's intuitive and it's hard to go back to a car that burns dinosaur juice.
Here's what Tesla drivers say they wish they knew before purchasing. Remember that these are just comments from Tesla drivers around the world and that your own experience may vary.
Have a qualified electrician install upgraded power points (or a dedicated wall charger) in your garage before you get the car. Typical wall outlets can charge the car, but may be frustratingly slow.
The online pricing calculator deducts petrol savings and potential incentives - so make sure you check how much the Tesla will cost you driveaway!
The Supercharger routing algorithms, by which Tesla vehicles navigate between supercharger stations, are geared to be conservative so you don't find yourself stranded. Once you get a good sense of the car's actual battery life you can rely less on the computer and more on your own intuition.
The charge indicator on a Tesla is, on the whole, considerably more accurate than a fuel gauge.
It's worth getting used to using your smartphone to control car features from a distance, like pre-cooling or pre-heating.
Car insurance costs will vary depending on your chosen performance options. Selecting the most powerful Plaid performance editions will push your Tesla a lot closer to supercar territory, driving insurance premiums right up.
Remember to charge your car overnight, so you can wake up every morning with a full battery.
It's not a cheap car. Both the Model S and Model X are truly outstanding vehicles, but they don't come cheap. The unique benefits of Teslas can make it easier to find financing options, but remember to keep a cool head.
Expect to spend more on tyres than with other cars. The rapid acceleration of the Model S and Model X wear down tyres quickly, especially if you choose the larger 21" option. Not only will they wear out faster than on standard cars, but they also need more frequent rotation, and high-performance tyres are more costly to replace. It's vital to inspect your tyres more often!
How to charge your Tesla in Australia
Tesla cars use an onboard charger to convert alternating current from wall outlets into direct current used for the battery. The emptier the battery, the faster it charges. When it gets close to being full, the car computer tapers off the current to gradually top it up without zapping the cells.
You can charge your car from wall outlets, as well as from Tesla Supercharger stations located around Australia - which are special banks of multiple chargers working in parallel to rapidly recharge your vehicle. Simply pull up, plug in and charge up.
Half an hour of charge from a standard outlet will get you about 17km. Charge overnight to fill up your car at home.
It varies depending on the Tesla Model and charger you're using, but half an hour of charging at a Tesla Supercharger station will get you about 270km. This is generally more than enough to get you to the next Supercharger.
Superchargers are not exactly sparse in Australia, but they are typically more prevalent in built-up areas. More are also being brought online all the time. You can find your nearest Supercharger station online. This information is also linked to your car's computer, meaning you can easily find your nearest Supercharger with your Tesla's inbuilt touch screen display.
How much do the Model S and the Model X cost?
The cost of a Tesla car depends largely on your chosen model, as well as any optional extras you order. Here's how much you should expect to pay for the Model S, Model X and Model 3. The prices are driveaway costs for NSW postcode 2000.
Tesla Model S
Driveaway from (NSW 2000)
Model S Long Range
Model S Plaid
Tesla Model X
Driveaway from (NSW 2000)
Model X Long Range
Model X Plaid
Tesla Model 3
Driveaway from (NSW 2000)
Model 3 Standard Range Plus
Model 3 Long Range
Model 3 Performance
Tesla Model Y
Pricing will be announced closer to launch
Has yet to be officially confirmed from an Australian launch.
How you can finance a Tesla
Even though Teslas are unusual in that they are electric vehicles, with distinct features unique to the brand, they are still cars.
Lenders and car finance groups recognise the growing popularity of these unique vehicles and may be more likely to approve Tesla loans than less-practical, but similarly priced and performing equivalents.
This means you may be able to enjoy more favourable rates and better terms when financing a Tesla than other vehicles. Because they are demonstrably (going by ANCAP scores) safer than many other cars, some insurers also recognise the advantages of those safety assists with lower car insurance premiums. A few car insurers have offered discounts since 2014 for vehicles with active safety features.
This means that while Teslas are inherently costly, premium vehicles, you can recoup some of the extra outlay thanks to electric costs versus fuel.
Take a look at luxury car loans, as this is the category that a Tesla is likely to fall into.
Elizabeth Barry is Finder's global fintech editor. She has written about finance for over six years and has been featured in a range of publications and media including Seven News, the ABC, Mamamia, Dynamic Business and Financy. Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Communications and a Master of Creative Writing from the University of Technology Sydney. In 2017, she received the Highly Commended award for Best New Journalist at the IT Journalism Awards. Elizabeth's passion is writing about innovations in financial services (which has surprised her more than anyone else).
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