The Average Tesla Driver Isn't Who You'd Expect

A previous version of this story said the starting price of the 70D version of the Model S started at $57,500. It is $57,500 after tax deductions and gas savings. TheStreet regrets this error.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Not everyone behind the wheel of a Tesla Motors (TSLA) car is a millionaire. And that's a good thing, according to a Jefferies research report by Dan Dolev.

After surveying 145 Tesla owners, Dolev and his team found that against popular wisdom Tesla owners are not just for luxury car drivers, indicating the company's attempts at making its cars accessible to everyone are working. 

Because of its higher brand value and drivers willingness to switch to Tesla, Dolev increased 2020 production estimates to 515,000 cars, up from a prior outlook of 500,000. He also slightly raised 2016 and 2017 revenue estimates, forecasting $9.27 billion and $12.84 billion, up from $9.269 billion and $12.827 billion, respectively.

In 2014, deliveries of the Model S vehicles increased to 31,655 from 22,477 in 2013, according to company filings. Total revenues for company also increased to $3.2 billion, up from $2 billion. In its first-quarter earnings report, Tesla reported generating $940 million in total revenues, up from $621 million in the same quarter the previous year.

Shares of Tesla were higher in pre-market trading, gaining 0.5% to trade at $266.50.

Tesla owners surveyed reported to previously driving cars ranging in price from $15,000 to $250,000, including everything from a Toyota ( TM) Highlander to a Acura MDX and Porsche 911/918. After averaging national pricing data, the report said owners paid an approximately 80% premium on their Tesla cars compared to the average selling price of their previous cars.

Of the respondents, 25% said they were not considering any other brands besides Tesla, and 85% of owners said that their next car would most likely also be a Tesla. Yet another strong indicator of customer loyalty was that 89% of surveyed owners said they would still buy a Tesla even if the current $7,500 federal tax credit were taken away.

The results also showed that if drivers had not purchased a Tesla some would have rejected going the luxury car route and instead bought a car with an average selling price as low as $30,000, once again indicating the high premium drivers give Tesla. Of those surveyed only 13% of respondents said they would have purchased a vehicle with an average selling price higher than the Tesla Model S, which begins at $75,000 for the 70D version.

Cars viewed as a suitable substitute for Tesla have an average selling price of $78,000, which means there is a 29% premium for Tesla cars.

The release of the Tesla Model 3 in 2017 will also help Tesla reach a wider audience base since it is estimated to have a lower average selling price of $55,000, according to Dolev.

 

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