True Cost of Owning a Tesla After 32,000 Miles
Kim Java, a 2018 Tesla Model 3 long range owner with her husband, ended up driving about 32,000 miles in a year. She's gone over how much it cost her to drive her Model 3 long range over gas cars. Using ChooseEV.com, she used U.S. Department of energy data to compare costs of any EV with a gas car.
She lives in Georgia, where gas is about $4.05 per gallon. She drives a lot with 3 kids at different schools and shares her car with her husband as the only car they drive. They both drive about 32,000 miles a year which is about 3 times the national U.S. average.
Gasoline prices are continuing to rise and you are seeing many pictures of outrageous gas prices, which are pushing $7 a gallon. A couple years ago, Kim posted a video comparing a Tesla Model 3 with a Toyota Camry. She showed that a Model 3 would cost less than a Toyota Camry after 5 years.
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This shows a base price Tesla Model 3 of $38,900 in 2018, with a Toyota Camry LE base price of $24,600 in 2018. The study looked at all metrics in an average car ownership period of 5 years and compares the total cost of each vehicle. Here's what she came up with:
Tesla Model 3Toyota Camry LE
Tax, Title, and License$3,025$2,050
Cost Per Mile$0.46$0.49
The Tesla Model 3 is the clear winner in Fuel, Maintenance, and Resale Value. This is what caused it to cost less than the Toyota Camry LE. The upfront costs for a Tesla Model 3 are more, but over time, it becomes less expensive - especially if you sell it. And that last point - if you sell it, is key. Because if you don't sell it, it will take longer to be less expensive - although with gas prices going up the way they are, it's likely going to not take as long.
Today's Cost Comparison
Using ChooseEV.com, Kim put the national average of $4.05 as a baseline for gas, and an estimate MPG of gas at the national average of 24.9 MPG. She then put in the Est. mile/kWh for her EV to compare, which she put her Tesla Model 3 long range at 3.860 mile/kWh. Her home utility kWh rate is $0.12.
When look at this comparison, you can see that the $4.05 used for gas will take you 24.9 miles, whereas the same $4.05 will take you 130 miles in your EV - about a 5x efficiency in range -vs- cost. Filling an 18 gallon gas tank at this price would cost you around $72 with the national average. At the national utility average, filling up the Model 3 is about $9.75, making it around 9 times more efficient to "fill up" an EV.
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Currently, the standard range Model 3 costs $44,990. According to Kelly Blue Book, the national average for a new car in the U.S. was just over $46,000 in 2021.
The more you drive an EV, the more savings you get. At 32,000 miles driven in a year, you have $5,204 in gas -vs- $994 for an EV. Now, Kim's case is a little extreme, but the more you drive, the better the savings become. For her, it's a big no-brainer to have an EV with the sheer amount of driving she and her husband do. After 5 years, the fuel cost will be about $26,024 for a gas car, and about $4,974 for an EV for the large amount of driving she does.
Imagine owning your Tesla for 15 years and the savings get even more. I've owned my Honda Fit, 2008, for a while now - going on 14 years, and it has been a good car. It gets about 30 MPG and I have it paid off. But, it's getting old and won't last forever and my next car, the Model 3 RWD, will be a much better car to own with gas savings, efficiency, performance, lower cost to maintain. I will just take an initial hit to pay it off first.
Is this a good representation of the true cost of owning a Tesla? Is the Model 3 standard range the most efficient vehicle ever built?
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Jeremy Johnson is a Tesla investor and supporter. He first invested in Tesla in 2017 after years of following Elon Musk and admiring his work ethic and intelligence. Since then, he's become a Tesla bull, covering anything about Tesla he can find, while also dabbling in other electric vehicle companies. Jeremy covers Tesla developments at Torque News. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn to stay in touch and follow his Tesla news coverage on Torque News.