Cost of the new Tesla Referral Program

Tesla referrals program is back again. Tesla ended this program back in February due to high cost. So what does the new referral state?

Now, each time a friend purchases a new Tesla using your referral code, you’ll both get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging. Each referral also gives you a chance to win a Founder’s Series Model Y monthly and a Founder’s series Roadster supercar quarterly, both signed by Elon Musk and Franz von Holzhausen. Tesla owners who already have unlimited Supercharging get two chances to win with each referral.

From Tesla’s blog on March 21, 2019

If the referral program was expensive before, how can they give out a Model Y & Roadster ever quarter? Also how much is 1000 miles of Supercharging really worth?

Let’s tackle the first one. Ryan McCaffrey actually tackled this on the “Ride The Lightning” Podcast. Both the Model Y & Roadster aren’t available as of today, so it cost Tesla nothing to give these out. And when they do come out with these, there’s no timeline to deliver these. Tesla can wait till they recoup cost if needed.

There’s also tax implications on these. Since they are considered winnings, you’ll have to pay taxes on them. In fact, winnings are consider ordinary income. Just like a lottery or gambling winnings, you’ll need to pay taxes upfront, and most likely higher marginal tax rate along with state taxes.

And since Tesla is based in California, you might have to pay California Sales Tax regardless of where you live. To find out how much this might affect you, I would suggest talking to your accountant. Either way, that’s quite of bit of money to drop down all at once!

If this looks familiar to you, it should. This is the same thing we see with game shows like “The Price is Right”. Though individuals win all the time, many either don’t take the prizes or end up selling it so they can pay the taxes on it.

The second part of the referral prizes has to do with free Supercharging. But how much is 1k miles worth? It really depends on your efficiency. The 1k miles isn’t 1k of driving, but 1k of rated miles added to your car.

Let’s look at the Model 3. According to the Stats App for iOS, the average efficiency is around 85%. So really we are looking at around 850 miles. At San Diego Friars Road Supercharger, the cost is $0.31 per kWh. Model 3 has a 75 kWh battery that either has a range of 325 or 310 miles. 

Rated RangeEffiencyCost
31060%$45
31085%$63.75
310100%$75
32560%$42.92
32585%$60.81
325100%$71.54

California rates are pretty expensive, but it’s a good indicator on how much it may cost. Even at these rates, it could cost Tesla anywhere around $42-$75!

How does this differ from before? Well before they were giving out real prizes. The wall chargers itself was worth $400-$500. The wheels aren’t cheap either. They could cost an upwards of $6,000 or more.

When comparing the previous rewards program versus the new one, they are saving themselves thousands of dollars. While at the same time they get free advertising from people like me. Tesla advertisement is still grassroots and spread via word of mouth. And the cost for Tesla is still cheaper than traditional & digital marketing. It’s a win-win for Tesla!


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If you are in the market for a new Tesla and think I’ve been helpful, please consider using my referral code:
https://ts.la/sunil91588 when you make your order online!