LOS ANGELES -- Tesla Motors Inc. increased the guaranteed residual value of its electric Model S sedan to 50 percent after its lease-to-own period of three years.
The car's guaranteed residual value had been tied to that of the Mercedes-Benz S class, which, at 43 percent after 36 months, is relatively low compared with the overall luxury segment.
"We're going to up the ante. Going from 43 to 50 [percent] is a pretty huge jump," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during a conference call today.
For a base Model S costing $71,070, including shipping and fees, that knocks about $250 off the monthly payment, down to about $800 a month.
The Tesla program is technically not a lease; rather, it is a purchase program with a guaranteed "put option" after three years, Musk said.
In a statement, Tesla said that the revised residuals mean "a guarantee that the resale value will be higher than that of BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Lexus or Jaguar."
The revised residuals will be applied retroactively to anyone who has financed a Tesla through US Bank or Wells Fargo since April 2, the company said.
Tesla hopes to build about 20,000 Model S sedans this year. The waiting list for a car is slightly more than six months if an order were placed today.
The guaranteed value is backed not only by Tesla, but personally by Musk, whose net worth is estimated at $2.7 billion by Forbes magazine.
US Bank and Wells Fargo also have extended longer-term loans to reduce the monthly payment of the Model S, from 63 months up to 72 months.
About 20 or 25 percent now use Tesla's financing through Wells Fargo or US Bank, Musk said. With more financing partners coming, Musk believes about 65 percent will use Tesla's financing plan.
Tesla said today it also changed some of the defaults on its Web site's payment calculator to more accurately reflect gasoline prices and depreciation for business use.