Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What is the truth about true cost?

More than two decades ago, I first heard the adage:

Marketing is the art of telling the truth in the most positive possible light.

I was thinking about that concept as I was reading through the newly-published True Cost of Ownership document from Tesla Motors.

Have you read this document? If not, I encourage you to stop right now, and go visit their site, and have a read.

To their credit, the document is short and plainly-written.

But what does it say about America, about our morals and values and behaviors?

As I understand it, from reading their document, it is actually surprisingly affordable to buy a $75,000 Tesla S, assuming that:

  1. You make a $7,500 down payment
  2. You qualify for a $67,500 car loan, at an interest rate (2.9%) that's a full 1% lower than what you can get a mortgage for
  3. You live in a state where you don't have to pay sales tax, nor registration fees
  4. You live in a state where, furthermore, you qualify for a $10,000 tax incentive for buying an electric vehicle
  5. You own your own business, and use this car for your business, and deduct the interest, depreciation, and operational costs you're paying on this car and its 70K loan from your taxes.
  6. You currently drive a 19 MPG clunker, for which you pay $5/gallon in gas, and you go through 15 gallons of gas a week, and you have a way to charge your Tesla without having to pay for the electricity (say, you have your charging station at your office), or at least can arrange to deduct your electric bill from your taxes.
And even then, the numbers don't work, unless you figure in some additional fudge factors such as:
  1. Assuming that not having to go to the gas station 4 times a month is worth $100/month to you
  2. Assuming that you'll now get to drive in the carpool lane, and that that's worth another $150/month to you

Now, tell me, and be honest: is there anyone you know for whom all these things are true? (Bonus points if that person is honestly using this car for their business, is replacing a 19 MPG vehicle with this car, and drives at least 20 miles in a carpool lane everyday for their business.)

I guess what's so depressing about this is how brazen Tesla is about just up-front admitting that everyone who buys one of these vehicles is just flat-out cheating on their taxes.

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