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We Try Hacking A Tesla Lease: Save $3,200 (Or More!) On A Tesla Model S

Tesla leases are difficult, if not impossible, to hack. Everybody pays full price to ensure fairness, as the saying goes. Ordinarily the most you'll ever score is a $1,000 referral credit. But today, we've found an exception.

On April 17, 2017, Tesla lowered the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on Model S 75 by $5,000 and added standard equipment. Tesla then lowered the selling price of their existing new inventory cars to account for the change. For example, this inventory Model S has an original MSRP of $85,250. The same car configured today has an MSRP of $78,750. To account for the reduction, the selling price on the inventory car is now $78,650.

So a $100 discount on a new inventory car compared to a custom ordered one—no big deal, right? That's true if you were buying. But on a lease, it's quite different!

It's All About The Residual Value!

On a lease, the residual value is based on a percentage of the car's MSRP, not the selling price. In this case, the residual value of the inventory car is based on the original, higher MSRP rather than the new, lower price. (The residual value is one of the variables that determines the cost of a lease; a higher residual value results in a lower depreciation expense and therefore lower payments. Read more here.

The current residual value for a 36-month, 10,000 mile-per-year lease on Model S through Tesla Financial Services (US Bank) is 60%. Here's how the math pans out:

New Inventory Model S Example
MSRP: $85,250
Selling Price: $78,650
Residual: $51,150 (60% of MSRP)
Depreciation: $27,500 (Selling Price minus Residual)

New Model S With Current Pricing (Post-4/17)
MSRP: $78,750
Selling Price: $78,750
Residual: $47,750 (60% of MSRP)
Depreciation: $31,500 (Selling Price minus Residual)

The inventory Model S with the old, higher MSRP has a depreciation expense that's $4,000 less than an identical Model S with the new, lower MSRP. The difference translates to $89 per month saved, or a savings of $3,204 over the course of a 36-month lease:

New Inventory Model S Example
Monthly: $870 + tax
Due at signing: $6,565 + tax, registration, acquisition fee

New Model S With Current Pricing (Post-4/17)
Monthly: $959 + tax
Due at signing: $6,654 + tax, registration, acquisition fee

So the answer is clear. If you're shopping for a Model S from Tesla's new inventory and want to pay less for the same car, find one with the old, higher MSRP, and you've effectively got yourself a $3,200+ discount on a new Tesla. A Tesla ownership advisor can help you with the search.

Mind you, you're still only looking at a Leasehackr Score of 6 years, in part because of the sky-high .00210 money factor (equivalent to 5.04% APR). Wallet-conscious folks in the market for an $80K+ sedan may be better off looking elsewhere.

Above: New Inventory Model S ($85,250 configured MSRP; $78,650 selling price): $870/month and $6,565 upfront Below: Current Pricing Model S ($78,760 configured MSRP): $959/month and $6,654 upfront Taxes, registration, and acquisition fee extra.

Above: New Inventory Model S ($85,250 configured MSRP; $78,650 selling price): $870/month and $6,565 upfront
Below: Current Pricing Model S ($78,760 configured MSRP): $959/month and $6,654 upfront
Taxes, registration, and acquisition fee extra.

Recently leased a Model S? Share your experiences below!