Tesla EVs cost too much, so drivers turn to car-sharing

Noble Horvath

This week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk berated his own electric vehicle company for offering products that are too expensive. He pledged to offer a Tesla for $25,000 in three years, after his company starts producing its own lower-cost, more efficient battery. For now, the cheapest Tesla is the standard Model […]

This week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk berated his own electric vehicle company for offering products that are too expensive. He pledged to offer a Tesla for $25,000 in three years, after his company starts producing its own lower-cost, more efficient battery. For now, the cheapest Tesla is the standard Model 3, with a 250-mile range, for $37,990.

“EV marketshare is growing, but electric vehicles still aren’t accessible to all,” Musk said earlier this week at his company event known as Battery Day. “We need to make more affordable cars.”

But even if Tesla’s higher-range and higher-performance vehicles are inaccessible to many would-be EV owners, the cars are gaining popularity in the car-sharing community. Car-sharing platform Turo has seen Tesla rise on the site, both for hosts offering up their Teslas for short-term rentals and “guests” renting out the Teslas. 

Turo provided some recent data that shows how Tesla dominates the car-sharing site. Back in 2014, there were just 67 Tesla listings on Turo. But over the last six years, there have been a total of 10,485 Teslas available. And people are seeking out Tesla: Guests on Turo search for BMW, Mercedes, and then Tesla as the top three car searches.

In a survey from the beginning of the month, 530 Tesla hosts and guests on Turo showed how interested they are in buying their first or next Tesla. Almost 65 percent of guests said they were likely to buy a Tesla in the next year, while 80 percent said they would consider switching out their primary car with a Tesla. The favorite Tesla on Turo is the Model S, the luxury sedan that sells for $75,000 to start.

For Tesla owners who put their EV on the site for someone else to borrow, it’s usually to help pay off the vehicle or bring in extra income. The average Model X brings in nearly $1,000 in earnings each month. The Model 3 and S earn owners $688 and $639, respectively, on average each month. 

Tesla owners are trying to collect them all. About 64 percent plan to or are thinking about buying another Tesla. Half said they’ve pre-ordered the Tesla Cybertruck, an cyberpunk electric pickup truck coming out by 2022.

Tesla renters appear to take advantage of the EVs available for a fraction of their usual cost. A Tesla 2016 Model X valued at about $100,000 is available in Los Angeles for $199 per day on Turo. Teslas are not usually available at traditional rental agencies. So on Turo, car-sharing a Tesla is an opportunity for a long-term test drive. Nearly 60 percent of renters said they book a car on the site to try it out before buying. More than half of Tesla owners on Turo said their renters told them they planned to buy a Tesla and wanted to test drive it for longer than official Tesla centers allow (which is about 30 minutes). 

Those test drives could prove useful in convincing more drivers to go electric. This week, California announced a new mandate to sell no new gas-powered vehicles by 2035. The goal to switch to lower-emission vehicles is supposed to reduce carbon emissions, but it might also lower driver costs. A Consumer Reports study released Thursday found that electric vehicle owners save an average of 50 percent on maintenance costs compared to those who drive gas-powered vehicles. 

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