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Tesla Lease Prices Don't Add Up After Price Cuts, Tax Credit

Although Tesla made headlines with huge price cuts last week, the company's lease prices don't appear to have kept pace with recent deals. In fact, we're seeing up to $10,500 in savings that could be translating to only $1,100 in savings for consumers, begging the question: what's really going on with Tesla lease prices?

Tesla's website currently lists a 2023 Model 3 price estimate of $469 for 36 months with $5,664 due at signing on a 10,000-mile-per-year lease. Our records indicate that the same car was listed at $499 with $5,694 at signing earlier this month. While the latest Model 3 lease price is lower, it isn't as low as one might expect.

In fact, Tesla's $499-per-month lease estimate was identical to the online pricing listed in December. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act and pending guidelines from the US Treasury, both the Model 3 and Model Y EVs are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit that goes to the owner, which, on a lease, happens to be Tesla.

Tesla Model Y

Last week, the Model 3 got a $3,000 price cut from an MSRP of $46,990 to $43,990, making it the cheapest Tesla you can buy. However, when you compare the effective costs of both of the above lease estimates, the price has only gone down $31 per month compared to Tesla's estimated lease pricing from December.

So where did the money go exactly? We reached out to multiple Tesla showrooms repeatedly to get an answer but haven't heard back. Still, with a $7,500 tax credit and a $3,000 price cut, these are potentially as much as $10,500 in discounts that appear to only be translating to roughly $1,100 in savings for lessees.

One could speculate that Tesla may be financing its high-profile price cuts by keeping the tax credit on leases. Having said that, there was never a guarantee that Tesla would pass the money along to consumers. After all, Ford has been keeping the tax credit on the Mustang Mach-E for itself on leases since its launch.

We think there's more to this story and will update this article if we learn more. For now, it appears that Tesla's EVs may not be as good of a deal as they seem, at least if you're planning to lease. If you're looking to buy and qualify for the full tax credit, there's a good chance that now may be a really good time to buy.

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As CarsDirect’s resident pricing expert, Alex offers must-know analyses of pricing & incentives to those looking to buy or lease a car. His consumer-oriented coverage of the latest trends and breaking news has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, Motor Trend, Automobile Magazine, and more.

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