Elite Dangerous Trading Ship Upgrading Guide

Elite Dangerous Trading Ship Upgrading Guide by LiquidCatnip

People routinely ask me about at what point they should upgrade their trading ship to the next ship…

Here is a rough guide of the metric I would use to calculate the total assets (TA) required…

  1. Go to http://www.edshipyard.com/ and create proposed next ship that is max cargo and D class everything and B class FSD. If it’s a T6, no shields… Asp or higher put on at least the smallest D class shield you can find. This is to prevent incidental damage like scraping the mailslot or docking bay… it won’t protect you in a head on collision.
  2. Note the ships cost. (s)
  3. Note its insurance. (i)
  4. Note its cargo capacity (t) and take the galactic average price for the more expensive commodity (C) on your trade route.

So if you’re riding with “One life” in hand the formula would be:

TA => s + i + 2(t*c)

This gives you enough money to get into the ship, kit it, fill it with cargo both sides of the trip and have money to cover the insurance if you die and refill the cargo hold without having to downgrade as there is no cargo insurance.

Riding with 2 lives we merely add 1 to the multiplier of I and 1 to the multiplier of (t*c) so:

TA => s + 2i + 3(t*c)

Similarly… when we are looking at what point we can upgrade to the A FSD from the B… we want our total assets to reflect lives in hand… so:

LA (liquid assets) => i + 2(t*c) + m (Where m is the cost of the A FSD minus cost of B FSD)

So let’s look at some real examples of this…

Assuming you have a Cobra and are looking to get into a T6…

  1. http://www.edshipyard.com/#/L=30W,,2-5K6u6a3m5K3m6k,08c08c07207205U03w03w
  2. s = 1,831,876
  3. i = 91,594
  4. t = 112 and let’s say c is 6200 for our Performance Enhancer runs (allowing for depression of supply).

TA => 1831876 + 91594 + 2(112*6200) = 3312270 (One life)


TA => 1831876 + 183188 + 2083200 = 4098264 (Two lives)

NOTE: How much of a percentage the (t*c) metric makes… basically 50% in both examples when running performance enhancers. This is the single biggest fuckup I see people make… they account for insurance and modules but not the cargo. If you know the route you’re going to run and you’re running a low price commodity like silver you can upgrade a lot earlier… if you’re running imperial slaves or palladium you’re going to need a lot more money. Account for this!

When do we upgrade to the A class FSD?

m = 1073387


LA => [91594 + 2(112*6200)] + 1073387 = 2553781 (for one life)

OK one more example:

T6 > T7 (assuming we’re skipping the Asp so don’t already have a size 5 FSD in play)

  1. http://www.edshipyard.com/#/L=30X,,2-6u8S886u5K5K8I,0AA08c08c08c0727Re03w03w
  2. s =19,786,203
  3. i = 989,310
  4. t = 184, again let’s go with C = 6200

Let’s go straight for two lives here and play it safe…

TA=> 19,786,203 + (2989,310) + 3(1846200) = 25,187,223

and to upgrade to the A FSD from there… M = 3402635

LA=> 2(989,310) + 3(184*6200) + 3402635 = 8,803,655


This does not account for the 10% you lose selling your hull… I need to test the in-game reporting of this but I suspect it shows total assets as 100% value of hull and modules… so when selling back you’ll actually get a fraction of that back. Always sell or downgrade everything on your ship as far as possible to get the maximum cash back before selling the hull at 90% and account for the extra 12% you’ll need in your math.

This does not account for advanced outfitting tricks like downsizing powerplants and powerdistributors in order to shave additional weight and crank out every precious fraction of a lightyear laden jump range you can get. Experiment with different loadouts to meet your needs.

I have personally run T7s and Clippers that were unable to boost in order to reach certain jump ranges and turn a 2 jump route into a 1 jump route.


Please post any corrections or suggestions for improvements I may have missed or overlooked.

See you in space! o7

CMDR LiquidCatnip

East India Trading Company

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