Up until recently, when you went to Tesla’s website to price out a car, the price it would show by default included “potential savings,” which Tesla defined as potential tax incentives and what you wouldn’t spend paying for gas. You had to click to reveal the “purchase price,” which is the higher amount of money that you actually pay Tesla for the car. Some called the whole business misleading, because it was, but recently Tesla changed its website to show the purchase price first, in an apparent attempt at being a little more honest.
I speak of the following two buttons, which will be familiar to anyone who’s been to Tesla’s website, perhaps ever.
Now, if you load the page for any of Tesla’s models, you will see the purchase price first, which in the Model 3's case starts at $43,490, while the price with “potential savings” — savings you may never actually realize — is estimated at $31,790, which you now see only after clicking.
It’s not clear why Tesla made the change, first noted by Teslarati, and Tesla does not communicate with the press so perhaps we’ll never know. Many years ago, Tesla’s cars were seen as pretty pricey compared to what other automakers were offering, but that just isn’t the case anymore, in an era when new cars are averaging close to $50,000.
Gas cars have also gotten more and more fuel efficient, slightly weakening the argument for big gas savings with an EV, while people have begun figuring out that you have to pay for charging and electricity as well. More people understand how tax incentives for EVs work now, too.
So maybe Tesla felt that people were already doing their own math and coming to a different conclusion than Tesla about savings. I’d prefer instead to think that Tesla became embarrassed by its own shamelessness and decided that they are past silly marketing switcheroos. I’d hope, at least.