Posted on April 19, 2016 by Matt Pressman
Guest Blog Post: Christian Prenzler* is a student and a researcher. He has been an investor in Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] for over four years and has conducted in-depth research on Tesla and other industry leading companies. Christian conducted his first research study in 2013 on Tesla Motors Club (and Tesla Motors) forums and asked us to help get the word out on his new, second Tesla owner survey this year. The results are now in...
About the Survey
Over the period of one month, this survey amassed 296 responses to 22 questions. Results began to settle over the course of the survey and produce stable numbers representing a clear solid survey sample. Based on the number of Tesla owners and the number represented in the survey, the margin of error is 6%. The survey consisted of 22 questions, 20 of which were viable for analysis.
Who is the average Tesla owner?
The average Tesla owner makes $271,000 (down from $290,000 in 2013) and is between the ages of 35-50. 88% of owners are male (smaller sample size). For 91% of owners, this is the most expensive car they have ever purchased. That metric is up from 65% in 2013**. After purchasing their Tesla, only 24% of owners would consider purchasing a gas powered car again. 92% of owners would purchase another Tesla in the future.
Income proved to be a differentiating factor in the survey, leading to differences in price and satisfaction. As expected, higher income trended toward a higher ASP (average sale price) with a price gap of almost $4,500 (between purchase price of the lower half and higher half of the income sample). In general, higher income owners were slightly less satisfied with the service received and that caused them to be 6% less likely to purchase a Tesla in the future. Interestingly, recent owners and early adopters showed the highest incomes compared to the running average (by quite a variance).
Above: Number of reported owners with the corresponding income
Vehicles equipped with larger battery packs show higher rates of non-routine service: 59% vs. 45% on pack sizes below 85kWh. 93% of vehicles surveyed were Model S’s and 7% were Model X’s. The ASP gap is lower than the actual pack cost differences, meaning that some customers may choose to equip their vehicles with the smaller battery pack in order to add other options.
AWD vehicles show less than average non-routine service, 42% vs. 55% average. AWD vehicles are newer compared to RWD vehicles, leading to less maintenance and higher quality production (Tesla has also spoken to improved processes and less maintenance with newer builds).
When assessing the satisfaction of owners, we broke down different areas of opinion to find any discrepancies. Satisfaction over the years has climbed since our previous 2013 survey. 92% of owners said they were likely to purchase another Tesla in the future, up from 81% in 2013.
Value of a Battery Upgrade
When asked the question: "What would you pay for a 30% battery upgrade?" 80% of owners said they would upgrade. Those 80% of owners said they would pay on average $200/kWh*** in upgrades. Owners who have owned their car for 2.5+ years would pay more than newer owners for an upgrade ($230/kWh vs. $195/kWh). By allowing owners to think of the upgrade in a general sense, we were able to gauge the current market value of a battery pack upgrade. The $200/kWh is remarkably close to the estimated production cost for Tesla (note: it's probably lower as Tesla is seeking to reach $160/kWh with Gigafactory 1).
Owners Over the Years
While satisfaction was consistent over the age of the buyer (age referring to length of ownership), three key differences were found. Buyers that have owned a Tesla for over 2 years were less likely to purchase a gas vehicle again (5% difference), and more likely to purchase the Tesla Model 3 (5% difference). 65% of the oldest owners (roughly 2.5+ years) were planning on purchasing the Model 3, 10% more likely than the average of all owners.
An additional point of interest is the increase in leasing with newer owners. Of new owners within the past three months, leasing is now at 18% compared to 3% three years ago. The increase in leasing is mostly due to Tesla increasing the focus on the program in marketing materials and Tesla continuing to make leasing more affordable.
The survey of 296 owners has proven again that vehicle satisfaction of Tesla owners is incredibly high [see below]. While average income has slightly fallen, the most recent average Tesla owner’s income is significantly above the running average. Satisfaction across Tesla’s departments was consistent, which shows Tesla has concentrated on winning owners over in the past few years.
*Published results and images (above) are used with permission from Prenzler Digital Media. Research (above) is owned by Christian Prenzler and Prenzler Digital Media and must have expressed written consent in order to copy or use any of the research. Note: The original results of the 2016 research study outlined in this blog post can be found here. The original results of the 2013 owners survey referenced throughout this analysis can be found here. Prenzler Digital Media is not affiliated, endorsed, or connected to Tesla Motors in anyway. All descriptions referencing Tesla Motors are used solely for identification purposes. Tesla Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Roadster are trademarks of Tesla Motors.
**Based on the starting price of the Tesla Model S and data from previous car values
***The upgrade was a 25.5 kWh upgrade (30% upgrade for a 85kWh pack). Owners not interested in an upgrade were not included in the average.
Editor's Note: Although we participated in this survey as (personal) Tesla owners, we're not involved in this (or the prior) study Christian conducted. He had asked us to help alert other Tesla owners who might be interested in taking the survey and had volunteered to write a guest blog post to announce his top-line findings.