Leaf, Volt, Model S: Comparisons and Financial views

Leaf, Volt, Model S: Comparisons and Financial views

Great article comparing the three EV offerings although I wince when hearing the Volt called an EV. I know this is probably preaching to the choir but I really hate reading finance articles bashing Tesla saying things like the leaf and volt got to the market first and will really limit sales of the Model S. Decided to write an article of my own. Feel free to read it and leave your comments.
Does anyone know how much the extended range battery packs will cost for the Model S?
I also want to mention how comical I think the Volt's battery is. Almost 500 pounds, creates a huge hump down the spine of the vehicle causing it to only seat 4 passengers, and it can only get a whopping 50 miles on a good day.

Mark Petersen | 19 January, 2011


300 miles +10.000$ is that is calculated based on what, or is it just a wild guess based on the forum

the price of 50.000$, is a best an estimate as tesla website now show TBD (signaling that it may be higher, than the first estimate)

"100% torque instantly" is that a tesla only feature ?

"The fact that Tesla is not profitable right now doesn’t surprise me one bit. " and the explanation is ?

charging time do you really believe that tesla can get 2x more kWh out of a 110v outlet than Nisan

also you say it will come in 2012 and they will produce 20.000 each year, but not that it will be the second half, and produktion probably will start up slow as with the roadster, meaning that the first year there probably only will be made 3-5.000

to me this is a very shallow and tainted financial advice

Douglas3 | 19 January, 2011

Tesla is not making a profit right now because they are investing heavily in engineering the Model S. If they were just selling Roadsters they would be profitable. You gotta spend money to make money...

Timo | 19 January, 2011

@Mark Petersen P-110,

300m +10000$ I'd say educated guess. That can't be far off the target, unless battery prices drop faster than expected.

100% torque instantly is what it says. Nowhere in there does it mention other EV:s, that is comparison against ICE cars.

Tesla is not profitable right now because they invest a lot in developing and manufacturing Model S.

There is no mention about 2x kWh from 110V outlet, it says "takes 20 hours to recharge completely via the standard 110V connection" for Nissan, nothing is mentioned in Tesla about 110V. Problem is the continuing part of the Nissan which is wrong "half that time with a 220/240V connection" those have usually more amps too, not just volts, so it should be less than half.

Mark Petersen | 20 January, 2011

yes, I generally know the answers, but they are painfully missing from your article
witch I believe will cause more hame than good, as it will be read by people with no or little knowledge about Tesla
and the copy past feel I get especially about charging, where you compare apples to oranges
in general charging time is limited by the power outlet 110@15 = 1.6 kWh (more or less) and probably a max kWh

"Our goal here at Financeaholic is to provide you, our readers, with insightful analysis to help you meet your financial goals. We know you can read minute to minute updates on the major news websites so we will stick to original articles, feature lesser known equities, and focus on quality"

sorry about being so hard on you, but the article is written as "Financial News" witch the quality dont match, had it been written here on the forum I would have read it much more positive

Timo | 20 January, 2011

110V@15A * 20h would be 32kWh IIRC Nissan Leaf has capacity of 24kWh, so that is off unless you use 110V@10A as reference for "standard 110V connection". It would then be a bit over 20 hours. Using same arithmetics Volt uses 10 hours to charge its battery.

This really is comparing apples to oranges as Mark says.

Volt really shouldn't belong in this comparison at all unless you plan to compare other hybrids as well, like PHEV Prius. To me it looks like you get much better value of money buying Prius than Volt.

BYT | 20 January, 2011

The Volt is a piece of junk for the price and a sad attempt for Chevy to get into the market. They should call it what it really is, a Hybrid and not an electric car like the Tesla or Leaf. It bugs me to no end that Volt is marketing their car as electric because it can be plugged in. If it requires gas for extended driving, then it's a Hybrid, PERIOD!

Financeaholic | 20 January, 2011


Timo does a nice job of responding to your questions. Yes, the charging times may be off a bit as that is not my area of expertise. I found varying information on different websites. As for the rest of your points they are answered in the article if you would read it entirely. It doesn't surprise me that tesla isn't making a profit: read the entire paragraph directly before that and you have your answer. The battery cost is a complete guess but probably isn't far off. In regards to 20000 per year I mentioned that this was Tesla's "goal", key word you missed there.

theBike45 | 20 January, 2011

If you believe the figure being bandied about of $300/kWhr,
then do the math - 300 miles battery pack requires 140 extra miles of range, which will require about 31 kWhrs worth of extra cells, which leads to an extra cost (just for the cells alone, not the
"packaging") of $9300 more. So the $10K guess doesn't look far off.
As for charging on "normal" household current - that is 120V, not 110, and most circuits these days are 20 amps. Electrical code requires that capacity not exceed (I think) 80% of capacity for
power sources connected for a lengthy period.
As for the Volt, GM really goofed when they assumed back when
that batteries would remain very expensive, very heavy and very slow to recharge. Their architecture was actually obsolete the day the Volt was launched. It is hideously complicated and looks to
have been designed in order to produce a long revenue stream for GM dealerships and spare parts factories. No outside shop will touch that car when it comes to repairs, so, in this case, GM dealers will still be making money after the warranty runs out.
Considering how slow, plain looking (which GM claims was necessary in order to make the car aerodynamic (!!!!)) and slow to recharge (believe it or not, but the Volt cannot be rapidly recharged!!!),
and cramped and heavy (4,000 lbs - slightly heavier than the Model S). The base Model S costs about 25% more than the Volt. Now you explain to me why anyone would buy a Volt and not the Model S. It just doesn't make any sense. Anyone want to guess the future value multiple, meaning how many times greater value will the Model S
have than the Volt after 5 and 10 years? I would say 3 to 4 times more. GM made a wrong assumption about batteries and are going to be paying a big price. Maybe they need to rape their shareholders and stockholders again with another bankruptcy.

brookbot | 22 March, 2011


I'm currently on the fence and see the Volt as a good option for me. This is because the Volt matches my driving needs. My typical commute is well within its pure battery range, so I wouldn't use any gas. The leaf on the other hand provides a very nice range for daily commute, but can not be taken on long trips w/o recharging. I take weekly trips that exceed the leaf's range and can't rely on EVSE infrastructure to recharge on the way - nor would I want to spend 20-30minutes recharging during my trips.

I don't need a commuter car, I need to replace my economy car.

The Model S on the other hand offers a much better range, but has the same problem of potentially running out of steam. Given its range that's not such a big issue for me as it could do my weekend trips w/ease, but rather that its pricing puts it at luxury car status. I'm just about at the point where I'd be willing to trade up to a luxury car, but $70-$80G'is a little more than I'm ready for.

If I could get a Volt I would, but they're sold out... So I can get a leaf now, or wait for the Model S. Volts will probably also be available again by that time though...

dashrb | 23 March, 2011

with all ICE's, the engine has to be run for a while, every so often, to avoid oil pooling, rubber gaskets drying out, and other such ill effects. I assume the Volt's computer manages this "maintenance" automatically so that even if you always commute < 40 miles, you can't avoid using "any gas".

I don't mean to imply that you would use a significant amount of gas, but my line of thinking extended into the general, recurring, maintenance costs of an ICE. IMHO, that would be a good reason to choose the Leaf over the Volt, as your short-distance commuter car. The recurring maintenance *should* be much less with the Leaf (or any EV).

If your Model S is really in the 70's-80's, then a pure cost comparison to the Volt might be unfavorable. You'd have to really appreciate the extra features and "luxury" offered by the Model S.

But this is my speculation.

Ramon123 | 24 March, 2011

That was a very good article in its treatment of the advantages of the Model S. However, the claims about spending "tons of money" developing the Model S, plus the high costs of acquiring manufacturing facilities, etc. are totally off base. The Model S
development budget is roughly half of what GM spent on the Volt, and Tesla was able to get the NUMMI factory for peanuts from Toyota. And the Volt really doesn't have a profit margin, despite costing almost 40% more than GM originally promised. The Tesla is NOT a car to replace a daily driver (but neither is the Volt).
If it weren't for the fact that it uses electricity, NOBODY would ever think of buying a Volt. If you think Volt sales are awful right now, consider what will happen when a couple of competitors show up. Due to the high cost of batteries, an electric can only really compete successfully at the upper end of the price spectrum, where its simpler and cheaper powertrain can replace some very expensive systems from the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Cadillac, Audi, etc. I contend that the Model S is the first electric to sucessfully best its ICE counterparts at its price level, due to its 300 mile range and quick charge capability, and superior performance and vastly improved space efficiencies. Also it looks one hell of a lot better than any BMW or Mercedes ever did. Tesla's marketing strategy is very good - compete at those price levels that current battery costs allow. As battery costs go down, move to lower price points. This is essentially what Musk said a few weeks ago.

Douglas3 | 24 March, 2011

Ramon123 "The Tesla is NOT a car to replace a daily driver"

On the contrary, that is exactly where the Model S will shine. Heck, I'm currently using my Roadster as a daily driver. The S will be an even better daily driver due to its far larger carrying capacity (human and cargo).

ICE cars only have an advantage on long road trips... at least until fast charge infrastructure is in place.

In the meantime a 300 mile pack Model S can do everything I need on a daily basis, including most long distance trips that I currently make.

michiganmodels | 24 March, 2011

Ramon123 - to speak to your point regarding the Volt and battery costs.

VolkerP | 24 March, 2011

michiganmodels, that's an interesting rumor. TESLA sells +70miles at $10k. GM sells -20miles at -$10k. Now who has superior batteries?

michiganmodels | 24 March, 2011

VolkerP -Exactly. And instead of innovating to reduce price, GM will take a step back. I firmly believe GM will reduce the battery/size/range (to reduce "cost" and lower the price point), which completely misses the point. I am clearly not a fan of GM.

This is from May 2009, but I thought you might enjoy it (if you have not already seen it):

Brian H | 24 March, 2011

Volt is "sold out" and Nissan has suspended production and order-taking due to the earthquake (and decimation of Japan's power supplies).

So those purchase options are off the table for some time. Model S will DOMINATE!



It's bad enough to read comparisons in the mainstream press between a Volt, Leaf and a Tesla but why here. I would bet there are not many comparisons on BMW or Porsche Bolgs debating the advantages of an economic box versus a sports sedan or say a Corolla verses a 330.

Dan5 | 25 March, 2011

Yes, it is true you CAN compare the Model S to the other electric cars, but it's comparing apples to oranges.

Here's the advantages of the Model S and Tesla compared to the other car.
1. Extended range (60 more , 130, or 200 more)
2. Speed/acceleration
3. Build materials (aluminum vs steel)
4. Cargo room (the other ones have the batteries put in bad places)
5. Maintenance (getting to stuff in the Model S looks very, very simple)
6. No legacy items (others built on other ICE platforms - you don't do that. That's jerry-rigging in my book)
7. First to market in terms of the Roadster (more time to perfect their products)
8. Lower overhead (how much of the cars are going to pay the top execs salaries?, Musk makes peanuts, GM CEO makes close to $10 million, not only that you have a lot of health care costs associated with GM retirees, current employees, etc, etc)
9. Lower cost of ownership (barring if the decide to use extremely exotic tire sizes, or electricity skyrockets)
10. Not the status quo (people who are sick and tired of these other car companies making inferior products)

Here's the disadvantage
1. Price
2. Unknown reliability (good and bad)
3. Unknown battery life

Honestly, price is not a bad thing, I suspect the people who would buy a 80K car are doing it for different reasons. Honestly, for me, if I would have known 9 months ago the 80K price tag I would have gotten a roadster (still considering it instead of Model S). In terms of reliability, I have faith that they will do the right thing in terms of warranties and taking care of their customers. In terms of battery life, we have to wait.

Comparing the Model S to a Leaf is like comparing a Filet Mignon personally cooked by Gordon Ramsey to a McDonald's cheeseburger (apologies if I offended any vegetarians on here)

Kallisman | 26 March, 2011

Unless Tesla plan to run away with the money after the first cars are sold, they can't afford to make a bad car now. They have to build a strong brand name, and that is very hard to do if your product breaks down all the time or customer service is bad. If they manage to get these things right, I believe they will be around and grow for a long time, making increasingly cheaper and better cars for everyone.

Tom A | 27 March, 2011

Tesla is fine at least through the 2016 model year. No automaker has unveiled, speculated or even joked about producing an EV with the combination of the cargo volume, range and performance that the Model S has. Certainly nothing with even half the range!

The Leaf (110 miles downhill with a tailwind) and Ford Focus EV (ditto) are cute commuter cars and are worth considering, particularly by multi-car households. However, the Model S has no equal. Even the RAV4 EV and Daimler's Smart EV, for which Tesla is building the powertrains, are being designed for 100 miles.

Being the first of its kind, it costs, but there's no production EV at any price point that matches or beats the Model S (except for their own Roadster).

A real key to Tesla's future is the recent partnership with Panasonic to develop EV-specific battery cells. Seeing what Tesla has been able to accomplish with laptop cells, imagine what they could do with purpose-built cells! 500-mile pack under 1,000 lbs for the current price of the 160-mile Model S? Who knows!

Now a thousand comments will attempt various calculations and tell me just how silly that last sentence was. Just a little hyperbole for the sake of making a point. Hey, a man can dream, can't he?

I keep coming back to this site, not only for any updated news, but I think it's a subconcious need to convince myself to find a way to finance a Model S and convince my apartment complex to put in something as simple as a dryer outlet. Hearing about Secretary Salazar awarding new deep-water drilling permits in the Gulf and the continued fight over drilling in the Arctic waters off of Alaska......yeesh. Even living within walking distance of my office and the grocery store and next to a subway station, I still end up having to drive to some places. At 36mpg in my Mariner hybrid, I'm doing well, but I'm still burning fuel and using engine oil, thus contributing to the problem in my own, small way.

dhullett | 27 March, 2011

Regarding price:

Deliveries should begin in mid-2012, Musk said, with the previously stated target base price of $57,400 ($49,900 with tax credits) for a Model S with a 160-mile range. A battery pack with a range of 230 miles will cost about $67,000, and a 300-mile option will top out at $77,000.

Brian H | 27 March, 2011

Tom A;
Get the 'S' for its own sake. Your "contributions to the problem" are imaginary. The IPCC has overstated CO2's influence by dozens, or even hundreds of times. At atmospheric temperatures and partial pressures, its contribution to warming is too small to estimate, much less measure.
Grey-body emissivity.

Tom A | 28 March, 2011

Brian H:

Thanks for the encouragement.

CO2 is only part of the story (and not a trivial one, at that). Burning hydrocarbons is a messy business - carbon monoxide, sulfur compounds, particulates - nothing good for the respiratory tract or the brain, for example. Refining is messy and gobbles up electricity; extraction and transportation isn't without serious issues, either. All oil rigs leak like sieves, tar sands and oil shale extraction is incredibly nasty (and in the case of oil shale, cost-prohibitive).

Heck, just consider all that oil and crap that drips off of gassers and washes into the water system from gas stations and parking lots - nothing but a little tire dust and very little break dust from the EV itself. If it wasn't for road crud buildup on the tires, you could park an EV in your living room.

Timo | 28 March, 2011

This again brings to my mind: has anyone measured oxygen levels on street levels with and without ICE cars? Combustion engines use a lot of oxygen.

Sudre | 28 March, 2011

I've noticed the tread in the US and other countries to reduce the smokers ability to enjoy their addiction by making it illegal to smoke in public buildings because of the health risks associated with said smoking. I find it hilarious that most of the public believes the emissions from the tail pipe do no harm.

I've quit smoking for over 2 years now but I'll make you a wager you just can't refuse. I'll go lock myself in my garage and smoke cigarets one after the other if you will lock yourself in your garage with your gas car running... the winner is the last man standing.

Don't tell me that tail pipe emissions do not hurt a thing. They may not have the end of the world effect on the climate but they are still not a good thing.

Honestly tho I am not concerned about any of the above. I am purchasing a Tesla because I want an electric car. I am tired of the ICE cars that are nothing but repairs waiting to happen and a continuous string of maintenance costs.

Brian H | 28 March, 2011

All the reports of health effects of 2nd-hand smoke are bogus. People just don't like the odor, which is fair enough.

As for the car in the garage, the problem there is CO from incomplete combustion, which is toxic. You have to get up to about 30-50,000 ppm CO2 before you are harmed by it, and that's mostly because of dilution of the oxygen.

Who cares? The Roadster and Model S are just superior vehicles.

Timo | 28 March, 2011

They are not bogus, but they neglect to tell that your lungs recover from that a lot faster than from actual smoking, fast enough that if you are not continuously in the smoke every day is same as first day. Smokers lungs recover too very fast, I think lungtissue is one of the fastest recovering parts of the human body, much like liver.

msiano17 | 29 March, 2011

Back to the point of this thread.

Comparing the Leaf, Volt, and S is really not a realistic comparison. It is not like comparing Ford, Dodge, and Chevy which are 3 very similar cars. The S is comparable to the German luxury brands, the fact that it is an EV put it a few steps ahead of the competition. Otherwise compare everything else about the car and you have a car that will go toe to toe with the best of the Germans.

Brian H | 30 March, 2011

That's what CO does, all right. CO2, not so much.

Yes, I think the value per $ for the S is much higher. Would someone trade 1 "S" for 2 Leafs? I doubt it.

jeffhre | 27 May, 2011

To displace oil, a lot of alternative vehicles will be needed. Do we really need to join the ICE apologists and oil company shills in bashing the few alternatives available? Illuminate the capabilities of the choices instead of perpetuating the FUD.

There are a lot of ICE alternatives to compete against. Let's help spread the word that there are electric options available too. Help to show which fit the needs of individual drivers and not throw FUD at all but the one we like best. Or cut down the others because one was criticized out of hand. Many electrics equals many solutions.