Toyota's RAV4 Prime and Hybrid Show Just how Silly Tesla Model Y's Promised Fuel Savings Are
The Tesla Model Y is the company's newest and hottest model. The Model Y is a two-row crossover with all-wheel drive. Yet it consumes very little energy per mile. Tesla's battery-electric vehicles have grown ever more efficient as the company continues to make strides and technical advances almost daily. The Model Y is so efficient that Tesla even includes estimated fuel savings in its online pricing. That is very helpful if it is true. To see if it is true or not, we compared two very similarly-sized two-row, all-wheel drive crossovers with the Model Y to see what the EPA says the fuel costs for all three models are. Here is what we found.
Tesla Model Y Long-Range, Dual-Motor, All-Wheel Drive
When we use the online Tesla configurator, the Model Y pricing automagically deducts $4,300 from the customer's cost. Tesla says this is the vehicle's "6-year gas savings." AAA's national average for regular unleaded fuel is $2.177 per gallon today. So, the Tesla savings equates to 1,975 gallons of fuel. That's quite a bit of gas. And our get tells us that the Model Y doesn't save anywhere near that amount of gas when compared to other similarly-sized green crossovers with all-wheel drive.
Tesla offers two versions of its Model Y today. To make this contrast and comparison as fair to Tesla as possible, we will use the most efficient of its two models.
Six- Year Energy Costs - Model Y vs. Other Green AWD Crossovers
To determine the annual energy costs for the Tesla Model Y and other green AWD crossovers its size, we turned to the EPA. Its website www.FuelEconomy.gov is the official location for energy economy data for vehicles sold in America. If you could turn your eyes to the chart above and look closely at the bottom line you will see the energy costs per year for the vehicles listed. The Model Y costs $550 per year. Just FYI, its more gluttonous version uses $600 per year in energy. Note that EPA considers 15,000 miles one year of driving. That sounds like a lot for anyone with concern for their carbon footprint, but, hey, let's press on.
As you can see, the Toyota RAV4 Prime uses $750 per year in energy costs. So to drive the RAV4 Prime will cost an owner $200 more per year than if she drove a Model Y. By our math, six years times $200 is $1,200. Is that a meaningful amount of money to you as a buyer? Perhaps it is, but it is a far cry from $4,300.
The RAV4 Hybrid costs its owner $800 per year in energy costs (all of it gasoline). So, over six years, the RAV4 Hybrid owner will spend $1,500 more on energy. We threw in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for grins and giggles. Its annual energy cost is exactly double that of the Tesla Model Y. Over six years, its owner will pay $3,300 more for energy. None of these all-wheel drive crossovers cost their owner $4,300 more over six years to drive than the Model Y.
Nor does the Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD or the Jaguar iPace AWD. As far as we can see, not a single green all-wheel drive crossover similar in size to the Model Y on sale today costs its owner $4,300 more in energy over six years.
It is hard to understand how Tesla can make such a claim about its pricing. Were we living in a world where other green crossover options didn't exist, perhaps then Tesla's energy savings claim might be valid. However, there are numerous other green crossovers on the market today. The iPace, Outlander, and RAV4 Hybrid all beat the Model Y to market. The RAV4 Hybrid has thus far outsold the Model Y.
The Model Y beats the competition in so many ways they are hard to count. Which makes Tesla's odd exaggeration regarding its cost of ownership hard for us to understand. If you can explain it, please feel free to have a go in the comments section.
John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
Toyota RAV4 Prime plug image courtesy of Toyota media services. Fuel economy chart courtesy of www.FuelEconomy.gov.