Tesla buying guide

Your guide to buying a Tesla electric car in 2021.

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Our Tesla buying guide will help you pick from the world's best-known electric car maker's range.

A guide to buying a Tesla

Quick Tesla model comparison

Name Product Number of seats ANCAP rating Price (from) Finder Score Read Review | Find a deal
Tesla Model 3
5 seats
5 stars
Read Review
Find a Deal
on OnlineAuto.com.au’s website
Tesla Model S
5 seats
5 stars
Read Review
Find a Deal
on OnlineAuto.com.au’s website

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Choosing your Tesla model

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 it 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, the distance you can travel on a single charge of the battery, becomes extremely important. 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.

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 7 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.

Drive-away pricing for the Model X starts from $182,784.

Model 3 Sedan

The Tesla Model 3 is currently the cheapest available Tesla. The Model 3 is a sedan and is 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 Wi-Fi.

As of June 2021, the Tesla Model 3 has a starting drive-away 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 7 (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 2 Model Y variants on sale:

  • Performance. 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.
  • 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. The top speed is listed as 217 km/h.

We'll confirm the pricing for the Model Y when it's announced.

Cybertruck ute

The revolutionary and disruptive Cybertruck is Tesla's ute. There's been some speculation on whether 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 Australian 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 with a payload of up to 1,587kg.

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 SModel XModel 3Model YCybertruck
Model S Long Range, dual-motor AWD 664km (NEDC) rangeModel X Long Range, dual-motor AWD 580km (NEDC) rangeModel 3 Standard Range Plus, RWD 508km range (NEDC)TBATBA
Model S Plaid tri-motor AWD 628km (NEDC) rangeModel X Plaid, tri-motor AWD 547km (NEDC) rangeModel 3 Long Range, dual-motor AWD (657km NEDC range)
Model 3 Performance, dual-motor AWD (628km NEDC range)
Choose your advanced features:
FeatureAvailable with Model S?Available with Model X?Available on the Model 3?Recommended?
Wheel upgrade – change the look of your Tesla21-inch Arachnid wheels - $5,00022-inch Turbine wheels - $6,40019-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 interiorBlack and white - $2,900

Cream - $2,900

Black and White - $2,900

Cream - $2,900

Black and White interior - $1,500Again, 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)$10,100$10,100$10,100This 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 TeslaAll 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 from 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.
SeatingNo5 seats - no cost

6 seats - $9,400

7 seats - $5,100

NoLarge 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 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 drive-away.
  • 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 drive-away costs for NSW postcode 2000.

Tesla Model S
VariantDrive-away from (NSW 2000)
Model S Long Range$155,233
Model S Plaid$216,658
Tesla Model X
VariantDrive-away from (NSW 2000)
Model X Long Range$182,784
Model X Plaid$216,609
Tesla Model 3
VariantDrive-away from (NSW 2000)
Model 3 Standard Range Plus$67,798
Model 3 Long Range$84,131
Model 3 Performance$100,511
Tesla Model Y

Pricing will be announced closer to launch.

Tesla Cybertruck

This is yet to be officially confirmed from an Australian launch and reports are suggesting it's been delayed till 2022 due to the global semiconductor shortage.

How much will I save on fuel buying a Tesla?

The median average electric price per kWh is 26.5 cents according to the ACCC. The Tesla Model S Long Range has a 90kWh battery. That means, to recharge your Tesla Model S Long Range, it will cost $23.85. Obviously, this is just a rough figure, the actual price you'll pay depends on your energy tariff and how you drive.

The Tesla Model S Long Range has a WLTP range of 652km, meaning per kilometre, the Model S costs $0.036.

By comparison, a BMW M5 Competition, which has similar performance specs, has a 68-litre fuel tank. The average price in New South Wales for 98 RON petrol in October 2021 is $1.763, meaning the cost per fill-up is $119.88. That works out to about $0.186 per kilometre in petrol.

Tesla Model S Long RangeBMW M5 Competition
Cost of electricity/fuel (full-charge/tank)$23.85$119.88
Maximum distance652 kms641.5 kms
Cost after 16,000 kms$585.28$3,194

That means, each year, you'll save $2,608.72 in fuel with a Tesla Model S Long Range. You'd save less comparing it to a diesel or petrol standard BMW 5 series (a non-performance model).

How long till I recoup my outlay for a Tesla?

The BMW M5 Competition has a manufacturer's recommended drive-away price (MRDP) of $263,704. The Tesla Model S on the other hand has a drive-away price of $170,968.

So, you're already saving $92,736 compared to the M5. That brings the effective cost of the Tesla down to $78,232 (if you were going to buy an M5 that is). Then, saving $2,608.72 per year, you'd cover the cost of the Tesla in about 30 years.

Obviously, it goes without saying that if you were considering buying another vehicle rather than the BMW M5, these figures won't be accurate. Use them as a very general guide and do your own research before buying.

The servicing should be cheaper for the Tesla, as it has fewer moving parts compared to a vehicle with an internal combustion engine. Rather than scheduled servicing, you can pay for each service item as they come up, depending on the condition of the vehicle. If you drive less, then you might pay less in servicing.

The battery is guaranteed for 8 years, or 240,000km, whichever happens first. The vehicle has a 4 year/80,000 km warranty.

Tesla versus BMW: The full picture

Tesla Model S Long RangeBMW M5 Competition
Annual cost for fuel$585.28*$3,194*
Release date20202020
DrivetrainElectric - AWDPetrol - AWD
Electricity/petrol consumption167 Wh/Km*10.6L/100km*
Range652 kms~641.5#
PriceFrom: $170,968From: $263,704
WarrantyBattery and drive unit: 8 years; car: 4 years/80,000km3 years: unlimited km
Top speed250 km/h305 km/h
0 - 100 km/h3.2 seconds3.0 seconds

*Travelling 16,000kms. Green Vehicle Guide: 2021.

#66% of the time spent in urban environments and the rest on higher speed roads.

Did you know?

Regenerative braking uses the electric motor to slow down the Tesla, rather than the brakes. Doing so lets the motor act like a generator and recover some of the normally wasted energy.

Suggested Tesla Model S maintenance

The Tesla Model S owners manual suggests the following:

  • Each year (or 20,000kms): Clean and lubricate brake calipers (in cold areas).
  • Every 2 years: Test and replace the brake fluid.
  • Every 3 years: Install a new cabin air filter, HEPA filter and air conditioning desiccant bag.
  • Every 4 years: Replace the battery coolant.
  • Every 10,000 kms: Rotate tyres.

An ABS survey found that in 2010 the average household spent $51 per week on their vehicle in fuel, additives and lubricants, an increase of $12 since 2004. Fuel is only going to get more expensive in the future so electric and hybrid cars are becoming an increasingly viable option as the long-term trend of rising fuel prices continues.

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 safer (going by ANCAP scores) 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.

Loans you can use to finance a Tesla

Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Application Fee Monthly Service Fee Monthly Repayment
Wisr Secured Car Loan
From 4.74% (fixed)
3 to 7 years
$195 for refinance and dealer sale ($245 for private sale)
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 4.74% p.a. to 16.01% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $64,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.

⭐Special Offer: Wisr's standard establishment fee $605 will be reduced to $195 for applications submitted through Finder. T&Cs apply.
Credit Concierge Car Loan
From 3.69% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
You'll receive a fixed rate of 3.69% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.23% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.
IMB New Car Loan
4.88% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
$275.12 ($250 Application fee + $25.12 PPSR fee)
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.88% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one that's up to two years old.
Driva Car Loan
From 3.99% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
$295 (Varies by lender, starting from $295)
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.99% p.a.
Borrow up to $250,000 with loan terms from 1 to 7 years. Get access to a range of lenders.

⭐Exclusive Offer: Apply and settle with Driva by February 7, 2022 to earn a $250 fuel voucher.

loans.com.au - New and Dealer Used Car Loan
3.99% (fixed)
3 to 5 years
You'll receive a fixed rate of 3.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment.

⭐Special Offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
RACV New Car Loans
From 4.99% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.
Stratton Finance New Car Loan
From 3.69% (fixed)
3 to 7 years
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.69% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with
Apply for up to $250,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
NRMA New Car Loan
From 4.99% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 3 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
Great Southern Bank Fixed Rate Car Loan
6.79% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
$265 ($175 Establishment Fee + $90 Security Administration Fee)
You'll receive a fixed rate of 6.79% p.a.
A secured loan with a high maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000. Redraw facility and no monthly fees.
NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Fixed
From 6.99% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 18.99% p.a. ( 7.91% p.a. to 19.83% p.a. comparison rate) based on your risk profile
Borrow from $5,000 to $55,000, with 1 to 7 year loan terms available. This loan comes with no fees for extra repayments and no early exit fees.
Symple Loans Personal Loan
From 5.75% (variable)
1 to 7 years
from 0% to 5% of the loan amount
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 5.75% p.a. to 25.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow up to $50,000 to pay for what you need.
OurMoneyMarket Car Loan
From 5.35% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 5.35% p.a. to 14.99% p.a. based on your risk profile.
Borrow between $2,001 and $75,000 to finance a new or used car up to 7 years.
Latitude New and Used Car Loan
From 5.99% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.99% p.a.
Apply for a loan from $5,000 to finance a new or used car. Flexible repayments and options to finance a classic car.

Compare up to 4 providers

Other vehicles to consider

Still not sure if you want to buy a Tesla? Learn about other electric vehicles by reading our electric car reviews.


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More guides on Finder

Car Loan Offers

Important Information*
Logo for IMB New Car Loan
IMB New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.88% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one up to two years old.

Logo for Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.69% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.

Logo for RACV New Car Loans
RACV New Car Loans

You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.

Logo for NRMA New Car Loan
NRMA New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 2 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.

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