Tesla “Fuel” Cost: Update

After a month or two of being a Tesla owner, I tried to figure out how much money I was saving in gas money. I’ve been driving it for almost two years, here are the updated numbers.

Total Distance Driven: 19,858 miles.

Total Energy Used: 4,918 kWh (energy per Mile: 0.248 kWh/mi)

Cost of Electricity: $0.11 per kWh. I’m changing the methodology from last time. Last time, it included the cost of all the connection fees, sales taxes and other garbage like that. The bill has gotten more complicated now, it’s hard to figure out which numbers are most meaningful. If you include all the rest, it’s around $.014ish.

Cost of Tesla electricity $541

How much would I have spend in gas? $4,180.

Gas math: My last car got 18 mpg. 19,858 miles at 18 mpg is 1,100 gallons of gas. The price of gas has fluctuated a lot. The average looks around $4.00, I’ll be generous and use $3.80. 1,100 gallons at $3.80 per gallon is a total of $4,180.

$4,180/$541 = 7.7. My gas car would have been around eight times more expensive to operate. This is essentially identical to the initial findings.

Some random googling brings back answers between six and ten times, so my personal experience seems in line.


In fact though, it’s even better than 7.7 times as good. Why?

1) As Sidness pointed out last year, the maintenance costs are basically zero. There are so many fewer things that get mechanically worn down. I have yet to spend one dollar on maintenance.

2a) We added solar panels to the house this year. On a normal sunny day, charging the car is free. (Well, it’s more complicated than that, we had to pay a lot of money up front to get the panels and that cost should be distributed out in some way… but the marginal cost of charging is essentially zero.)

2b) For that matter, there is free charging at my office as well. Although — one of the few genuinely bad things about a Tesla — the charger adapter just doesn’t work well. You kind of pull up on it while putting it in and it connects, then you slowly let go and hope that it stays connected, which currently does not happen much. It can’t possibly be that hard to build a working adapter/connection. Honestly Elon, get on the stick.

2 thoughts on “Tesla “Fuel” Cost: Update”

  1. Not even close. I’ve had the car two years, and saved ~$3,500 in gas. Unfortunately, I bought the car at the very height of the market, it will take quite a few more years to make up the difference. If I were buying it today at a lower price, it would be close to breaking even already.

    But — what is the baseline? This car is so much better in so many way than my last car (Acura TL), it’s hard to even compare them. To call both of them “a car” is insulting to the Tesla, which is more of a driving software platform instantiated in some particular hardware. How do we quantify all the added benefits of the awesomeness of the Tesla?

    I’m also not sure how to quantify maintenance. I bought two tires for it so far, there haven’t been any other maintenance costs. But a new gas car would also have low maintenance the first few years.

    In summary, I dunno. But I’m still happy with the choice.

  2. Have your gas & maintenance savings exceeded the premium you paid for an EV versus a regular gas car? What’s your break even point for that?

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