2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests
  • Comparison
  • Long-Term (7)

2013 Tesla Model S: Popular with the Rich

November 27, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

A lot of cars turn heads on the road but I've noticed that our 2013 Tesla Model S tends to attract attention from people who look like they could genuinely afford to buy one. That guy in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class who's crawling down the 10 freeway in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the lane next to me? Yeah, he's swiveling his head to get a look. Eyes on the road, buddy. People with means can be a pretty jaded bunch so it speaks well of the Model S that it's able to stand out and catch the eye of this hard-to-impress demographic.

In her recent "Drive By Numbers" column, senior analyst Jessica Caldwell presents some research that supports the idea that the Tesla Model S is seen as a desirable new toy by the wealthiest car shoppers. According to her analysis, the Model S is the most registered vehicle in 8 of the 25 wealthiest ZIP codes in the US. For example, it's the most popular vehicle in Atherton, CA, where the median home price is a hefty $6,665,231.

Buying patterns among the very wealthy can often forecast mass-market trends, and if that holds true in this situation, the future of the Model S looks quite rosy indeed. Get the full story in Jessica's column.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor


  • zhangrenhou zhangrenhou Posts:

    At least, it's more practical than most toys!

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Hold the phone, you mean to tell me a $100,000 car is more popular with richer buyers than poorer buyers? I'm shocked. Yesterday I saw a Model S with an old guy driving alone in the carpool lane. That a lane designed to ease congestion by encouraging carpooling is now just a special perk to reward rich people even further for having $100,000 just lying around is a pretty nice summary of what is wrong with this state.

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    I live in Silicon Valley and see Teslas on the road pretty much every day. They are not merely toys. Upper middle class people buy them as daily drivers because they are status symbols, cool tech, and really nice rides. If I were well enough off to buy/lease a $90k car the Tesla S would be at the top of my list, too.

  • dunning15 dunning15 Posts:

    Pipe down, silly stovt001. A 20K Prius will get you into that same lane solo as well so you don't need a spare 100K just lying around - you can join this elite club with just a spare 20K lying around. And you can look at the carpool lanes as being developed to reduce emissions by removing cars from the road. Two people sharing a vehicle on a ride to work theoretically produces half the emissions of them each driving separately. If that's the final goal then electric cars deserve to be in the lane since they reduce emissions completely. I agree with the ridiculous topic of this article. It's like saying Rolls Royce Phantoms are also popular among the rich. What a revelatory observation.

  • mayhemm mayhemm Posts:

    @ dunnings15 Well stated. I would also add HOV lane access as a way for the government to encourage low-emission vehicles without additional investment. The lanes are already there. It's not like they're building new ones. Perks for the environmental

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    @dunning15: not at all true. A Prius nor any other hybrid will get you into the HOV/carpool lane anymore. We just bought a Cmax hybrid, and no carpool lane sticker for us.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    I meant to say neither a Prius nor any other hybrid... the carpool lane access is limited to purely electric cars, which are all rather expensive and other than the Tesla are not very useful. I have nothing against the Tesla. It is one fantastic car and if I could afford it, I would buy one even without carpool lane access. But it is silly for the government to target incentives at the wealthy. What next, cash bonuses for powering the utilities on one's yacht with solar power?

  • handbrake handbrake Posts:

    My wife has a pretty nasty commute in the SF Bay Area (going from the east bay into either Silicon Valley or SF, depending on the day) and she just bought a Tesla to replace her Audi A7. The primary consideration? The dang HOV lane access. I drove the Tesla when we went to the factory a few weeks back to check them out and I was mightily impressed by the car. It's definitely where cars are going to be going. We looked at other electric cars that would give access to the HOV lanes but when it comes down to it the pricing on the Tesla actually works out fairly logically. A Leaf just wouldn't have the range and something like a Fusion Energi would run in the $40k range and wouldn't have nearly the performance and luxury of the Tesla. So for anyone who drives a nice car like a MB or Audi or BMW and also wants an electric for commuting ease, you end up having to buy two cars if you don't get a Tesla. And that is not cost effective... I'm very concerned about a lot of aspects of buying a Tesla (resale, reliability) but for my wife's sanity, we took the plunge.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    What is the most popular (new) car in the 25 least wealthy zip codes in the country, since you are playing with statistics?

  • I had dinner a few nights ago at Nobu in Malibu. We rolled up in a Tesla s (not mine), and the prime valet spots out front had three Teslas and one Bentley. The point of this blog entry is that the rich are driving Teslas. Even though they can be driving Bentleys, Benz AMGs etc which cost 2-3-4 times as much. You would not see this acceptance with any other $90K car into the 'super elite' ranks.

Leave a Comment

Research Models


Edmunds Insurance Estimator

TCO® insurance data for this vehicle coming soon...

For an accurate quote, contact our trusted partner below.

* Explanation
Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411