Of Course It’s Cheaper to “Fuel” a Tesla Model S Compared to a Gas Premium Sedan…But by How Much?

5 years ago by Eric Loveday 22

Yes, the Tesla Model S is Thousands Cheaper to "Fuel" Than a Conventional Premium Sedan.

Yes, the Tesla Model S is Thousands Cheaper to “Fuel” Than a Conventional Premium Sedan.

Recently, Tesla Motors released a whole slew of interactive graphics that break down all sorts of information that’s likely vital to both potential Model S buyers and current owners.

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

Though the automaker doesn’t directly admit it, these graphics are almost certainly in response to the now-infamous Tesla versus New York Times Model S test drive.

We don’t want to spill all the interactive-graphic beans right now, but here’s what we’ll call a “teaser” of what’s to come on Inside EVs.

This graphic focuses solely on “fuel” costs of a Tesla Model S versus a nondescript “premium sedan.”

According to Tesla, the cost to “fuel” a Model S over the course of 30,000 miles is only $934.  The “premium sedan” costs $5,182 to fuel over 30,000 miles.  Simple math confirms that in “fuel” costs alone, the Model S saves owners $4,248 over 30,000 miles.  Or $12,744 in 90,000 miles.

But best of all, this graphic is fully interactive.  Want to know how much a Model S saves you in fuel costs in 120,000 miles?  No problem.  Just slide the bar.  Gas cost more in your neck of the woods?  Punch in the location-specific figure.  Electricity dirt cheap for you?  Change it up.

Click here to check out (and mess around with) this interactive graphic for the Tesla Model S.

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22 responses to "Of Course It’s Cheaper to “Fuel” a Tesla Model S Compared to a Gas Premium Sedan…But by How Much?"

  1. Bonaire says:

    One thing most states (other than California) don’t take into account is that electricity prices are actually falling. That makes EVs even cheaper per-day to “fuel up”.

    1. D B says:

      Comparable sedan @ $20,127 vs Tesla S @ $19,313… or a savings of only 4%.

      If you compare the cost up to 100,000 miles… not so great $17,243 vs $3,113. And after 7 years or 100K miles your battery will likely be depleted and you’ll likely need a new one. You get a deal if you pay up front $12,000. Plus you have to pay $600 per year for Tesla warranty.

      Average repair up to 75K and maintenance up to 100K averages around $2,854 combined for top 10 best selling cars.

      Comparable sedan @ $20,127 vs Tesla S @ $19,313… or a savings of only 4% based on 22 mpg. But if the sedan gets just 24 mpg, then it actually saves 3.2% over the Model S.

  2. bloggin says:

    That’s about $1,400 a year in fuel savings alone by driving a luxury EV. And as fuel prices increase, so will the savings.

  3. Open-Mind says:

    I thought this day would never come. Dozens of times for months on EV blogs, I’ve emphasized that the 5X-cheaper fuel cost of EVs is never mentioned as a selling point. FINALLY an EV manufacturer actually just says it. Hallelujah! And it’s even cleverly presented! 🙂

    I’m not surprised it was Tesla.

  4. Dave R says:

    They are a bit optimistic claiming that the Model S will get 3.5 mi/kWh from the wall out of the box when driven 10,000 miles/year.

    From the calculator: $0.11/kWh, 10,000 miles = $311. $311/.11 = 2827 kWh. 10,000 / 2827 = 3.5 mi/kWh = 286 Wh/mi.

    Most people on the forums seem to report just under 300 Wh/mi according to the dash gauges at best, with many people reporting 400 Wh/mi or more. And those numbers don’t take into account any inefficiencies during the charge process – typically 90% efficient at best.

    The EPA rates the 60 kWh car at 2.86 mi/kWh and the 85 kWh car at 2.63 mi/kWh and most people have a hard time getting EPA rated range unless they are driving long distances at moderate (60mph) speeds.

    And none of that takes into account the 3-5 kWh/day vampire drain the Model S currently has just sitting there (good for almost 4,000 miles/year at 3.5 mi/kWh).

    I love the Model S, but being overly optimistic about it’s actual energy costs only does future Model S owners a disservice.

    1. Well said Dave, and right on point. Especially in cold weather climates, the energy used for the thermal management can reduce the efficiency enormously. Between the reduced winter range, the vampire drain and charging losses it wouldn’t be surprising if many people experience about 2mi per kWh during the winter months. The cars instrumentation won’t show that though because it’s not factoring in all the loses.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Hi Tom taking your figures of 2 miles / kwh that would mean 25 miles would take about $1.63 here. That’s still 1/3 the price of gasoline.. Of course its alot warmer by you than it is by me.

        1. Certainly Bill, I’m not saying it cost more than gas. Just pointing out that the energy consumption of an EV can really swing radically depending on the conditions. Of course your gas mileage will also, but not as much as it can with an EV. I can get 4+ mi/kWh in the summer, but also about 2mi/kWh in the winter especially if I use preconditioning. If I had a gas car that got 25 miles per gallon, I don’t think I could ever get 12 miles per gallon unless I was stuch in traffic for hours or I took it autocrossing!

    2. Bill Howland says:

      @Dave R.

      “Vampire Drain” – hehehe I love it! It only comes out after midnight! Wish I had thought of that myself…

      My Roadster isn’t too bad in the winter, but my volt is pretty horrible. The best range I’ve gotten in the spring or fall was 45 miles per charge, it has been as bad as 6 miles this winter. At 13 cents/ kwh currently, thats about double the price of gas.

      1. GeorgeS says:

        There is a difference between Vampire Drain and mi/kwh when it is cold.
        As I keep saying: the Volt has little or no battery drain when it is NOTplugged in. The S does. It will draw the batteries down even if NOT plugged in in order to preserve range. This is why Broder ran out of juice on his drive (in addition to being an idiot).

        1. Dave R says:

          Technically the Volt will also draw juice down to protect the pack when the car isn’t on, but only in hot weather, IIRC. Still, from what I’ve seen it’s nothing like what the Model S appears to lose even in mild weather.

          The LEAF will heat up the pack a bit, but the pack has to get to -14F or something like that, so it’d take some extreme cold for it to start “vampire loads”.

          The Roadster used to have some bad vampire load when it was first released, but Tesla fixed that fairly quickly with some firmware updates. Disappointing to see that they are repeating the same mistake, but hopefully they will address it in due time. After all, it’s been on the roads for 3+ months now and they just now released basic charge timer functionality for it!

      2. Mark H says:

        I see similar numbers around 45 in the summer though closer to 42. The worst ever here in NC was 27 but normally around 33 in the winter. The Volt heater is the biggest culprit in that it is terribly inefficient. I am assuming you have a 2012 like I do Bill and do not have the Hold option which of course gives you the ability of producing heat the old fashion way.

        I did an experiment driving in 35 degree weather with heated seats and other heating options opposed to running the heat and got 42 miles. That was pretty telling to me on the amount of energy drawn by the 2012 heater.

        Of course, producing my own solar electricity certainly helps the equation. I am going to help my brother with a solar installation near Cooperstown NY. Not sure what your solar insulation models look like in your area but PV Watts will tell you pretty quickly.

    3. GSP says:

      Good point. Tesla should use the EPA kWh/100mile ratings for their cost savings calculator. Using even more optimistic numbers is not a good idea in my my opinion.

      GSP

    4. yuval says:

      I drive the Fluence ZE battery swappable car. It calculates 15.7 KwH per 100 KM so 4 miles per Kwh. Of course its a lighter car. But there is no drain when it sits with a fully charged battery. It costs a third of a 60KwH Tesla, and i am not beholden to a 30K dollar battery that may fail or self-discharges 3-5KwH. The battery ownership scheme is a loser, not now but within five years when the first tesla owners try to sell a second hand car whose range is half of a new car. Batteries are not inert fuel tanks that are filled with juice. They are chemical constructs which deteriorate over time. So in reality the cost of replacing a battery over 2000 charge-discharge cycle must be figured into the calculation , and Tesla does not do that

  5. Herm says:

    What premium sedan are they comparing it to?

    1. Herm says:

      for example, a Mercedes S550 gets a combined mileage rating of 18mph, and that is using premium.

      1. Plazman says:

        I think they’re erring on the side of caution. http://www.fueleconomy.gov shows the 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 getting 20 MPG and the 2013 Audi A7 quattro getting 21 MPG, so defaulting to 22 MPG is being generous.

  6. Dave K. says:

    It’s even better for me, about 5 cents/kwhr off peak on Ga. Power’s EV TOU rate. And with careful driving my Leaf will do 5 miles/kwhr. So yes, some won’t do that well, but others will do even better! I think the EPA rating understates the savings, that’s because they are comparing the energy in gas with electric energy from the utility. since gas is always more expensive that electricity it can’t be translated to money (the thing most consumers care about). Of course we want to reduce our carbon footprint, clean up the air, not use foreign oil, ect. But Joe sixpack only cares about the money, so tell him about it.

  7. Plazman says:

    Those interactive calculators aren’t new. They were their when I first placed my reservation back in October, so they aren’t in response to the NYT article. Not sure why you got that impression. The calculators are awesome though. I highly recommend checking out the whole site. There’s a nice map that shows where each state gets its electricity (natural gas, nuclear, coal, etc.) and a lot of other interesting things, even for those not considering buying a Tesla.

  8. Todd says:

    Picked up model s yesterday. Drove 77-80 mph most of the way to work and got 85% of the rated range, laughing all the way. Buy it for the value/economy/environment, drive it for the experience!!

    By the way, Tesla had those charts last fall in their showrooms. It is not a response to the NYT. Elon and the model s itself took care of the NYT just fine.

    Todd

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  10. D B says:

    Comparable sedan @ $20,127 vs Tesla S @ $19,313… or a savings of only 4%.

    If you compare the cost up to 100,000 miles… not so great $17,243 vs $3,113. And after 7 years or 100K miles your battery will likely be depleted and you’ll likely need a new one. You get a deal if you pay up front $12,000. Plus you have to pay $600 per year for Tesla warranty.

    Average repair up to 75K and maintenance up to 100K averages around $2,854 combined for top 10 best selling cars.

    Comparable sedan @ $20,127 vs Tesla S @ $19,313… or a savings of only 4% based on 22 mpg. But if the sedan gets just 24 mpg, then it actually saves 3.2% over the Model S.