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Bank of America to finance Tesla Roadster purchases

July 14, 2009 | 12:59 pm

Tesla store With a Tesla -- like a Ferrari -- if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it.

Starting at $109,000 and with just enough trunk space for a pitching wedge and a decent bottle of single malt, the all-electric Tesla Roadster would hardly appear to be the car for the guy who counts his every dime. But now, thanks to Bank of America, cheapskates (read: the lumpen masses) may finally have an entree into the electric sports car market.

The Charlotte, N.C.- based banking behemoth, long a leader in auto loans, will begin offering financing for the purchase of a Tesla. Qualified borrowers will be eligible for a loan of up to 75% of the value of the car and can have up to five years to pay it off.

According to Tesla Motors, based in San Carlos, Calif., that means for just $20,000 down, you too can get behind the wheel of the coveted Roadster.

Of course, that number isn't exactly accurate. It includes a $7,500 tax credit that you don't get until you file your taxes next year. It also doesn't account for $10,628 in sales tax and $1,322 in registration fees you'd pay if you were a resident of Los Angeles. (Sadly, the new car sales tax deduction included in this year's stimulus bill doesn't apply to cars that cost as much as a Tesla. Ditto for the Cash for Clunkers program.)

So, in reality, for just $30,237.50 down -- or about the sticker price for a Ford Mustang Premium GT, you too can get behind the wheel of the coveted Roadster.

Then you get to make monthly payments, which Tesla suggests could run at around a 5% annual rate, of a mere $1,700 a month. At the end of the day, you'll have paid just shy of $12,000 in interest on the electron-fired hot rod as well.

According to Tesla's Chief Executive Elon Musk, the loan program "will help advance EV adoption by allowing more Americans to experience the joy and convenience of owning a Tesla.”

Leaving aside the fact that there's a pretty darn long waiting list just to get a Tesla, one might wonder just how many Americans can afford $30 large down and a monthly nut as much as a nice one-bedroom apartment on the Westside just for the right to drive an electric car.

Another question also comes to mind: Which lasts longer, the monthly payment or the 6,831 lithium ion cells in the Tesla battery?

-- Ken Bensinger

Photo: Tesla's store in Menlo Park, Calif. Credit: Tesla Motors

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