by Nate "Buster" Jaros
I have a pilot coworker friend, who can’t stand the idea of a Tesla. His name is Bob and he constantly badgers me and exclaims all the negatives of owning an Electric Vehicle (EV) even though he’s never owned one. His biggest gripes about EVs is that they take so long to “fill up” with juice, and that on a lengthy road trip his son’s 1986 Geo would beat a Tesla in time to get to the destination. He’s probably right. On that account.
But there are a few things that Bob hasn’t considered, he has missed the point and loses time and dollars every day owning an ICE (internal combustion engine).
Can owning a Tesla really save you time and money? I think it can, here’s how.
Let’s first look at time saved by owning a Tesla. This was something I never even really considered until I saw the YouTube video below from Like Tesla. They do a pretty good job breaking down some of the economy of owning a Tesla and comparing it to a Typical ICE. We’re going to take that concept one step further here.
Bob drives a Hyundai Genesis. Not the little two-door ‘sport’ thing coupe Genesis, but the full sized, four-door sport sedan that is similar in size to a BMW 5 or 7 series car. More on that later. What I found interesting (according to Like Tesla) is that the average American drives 37 miles per day, and gets 24 miles per gallon. This equates (on average) to having to fill up their car with gas every nine days. If it takes just five minutes to fill up the tank with petrol, that comes out to about 200 (202.77) minutes every year filling up your tank with gas! That is 3.33 hours of time filling up your tank every year. This doesn’t include waiting in line at the pumps either, which can more than double this figure if you live in certain areas of the country, or you are a member of certain bulk stores that sell gasoline that always seem to have long lines.
For me, in my eight year old Ford Fusion Hybrid, I drive about 100 miles a day to commute. I have to fill up once every seven days on average. Multiply that by our same five minute factor and I spend over 260 (260.71) minutes per year at the pumps. That is 4.33 hours I spend standing at a service station every year.
Bob’s big Genesis is a second generation Genesis with the big engine. According to the internet he gets 23 MPG on the highway and averages 18 MPG overall. And with a daily commute like mine, I am guessing he has to put fuel in his car every seven days or so, like me. I think it’s fair to assume that Bob also loses over four hours a year at the pumps.
So how does a Tesla save you time? We’ll 99.9% of the time you “fill up” your Tesla at home, in your garage while you sleep. Which costs you no time at all. Road trips are a different story, and I get that. Maybe we can compare those times in a later article. But for now, we can say that Bob can save about four hours a year of time if he had an EV.
Doesn’t sound like much? What would you do with four hours (or double that for pump lines) every year? And consider that over the average life of a car that’s 34+ hours (~70 hours if you have lines) standing at a smelly gas pump!
A Tesla can save you money too. For the sake of this argument, let’s just look at the money savings of fuel and energy costs for a few vehicles. I know the Tesla costs more to purchase than a comparable ICE, certainly more than the Hyundai Genesis, and it’s way more than a typical smallish commuter car. We can look at those economics later. For now, let’s assume you are set on a luxury/premium sedan. What does it cost to fuel each?
My little Hybrid typically drinks 15 gallons every seven days. I know this from eight years of ownership. And the price of gasoline fluctuates too. According to AAA, the 2016 USA average gas price was $2.24. Our current (as of this writing) price for gasoline across all the USA is $2.47. In Nevada where we live, it’s a bit higher. But let’s use the national averages for the cost of a gallon of gas to help us compare. Taking both averages into account, let’s just say that gasoline costs the average American $2.25. Fair?
So my 15 gallons every week comes to $33.75. Let’s assume that we do that for 52 weeks and we get an annual gasoline bill of $1755. Yowza!
Bob’s thirsty Genesis doesn't get the 37-39 MPG that I get in the soon-to-be sold Hybrid. Let’s assume he also drives 100 miles a day and gets the rated 23 MPG highway. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say all he drives is on the highway. No city driving. With that he’ll need 30 gallons a week costing him $67.50 a week. For the year that costs $3510….of low grade gas. I’m not positive of his engine, but the V8 car requires premium, the V6 version can run on regular.
A Tesla costs far less to charge due to the price of electricity versus gasoline. A typical 85 kilowatt hour (kWh) Tesla battery takes about 95 kWh to charge up (due to line losses, on board charger, etc) from zero to full. A more typical 50% daily charge up (from 40% to 90%) takes approximately 60kWh. In Nevada, on the special EV energy rate plan where they want you to charge at night when less energy is being pulled from the grid, EV owners pay $0.04 or $0.05 per kWh at night. Knowing that, I can predict my daily “fill up” of my new Tesla to cost me either $2.40 or $3.00. That’s a bill of $16.80/$21 a week or $873/$1092 a year to fuel my Tesla. Call it an average of $980 per year to fuel the electric beast.
With that knowledge, I’m saving myself $775 over the Ford Hybrid, and over $2500 a year in “fuel” alone over the Genesis!
And since we’re comparing to a Hyundai Genesis sedan, it’s interesting to note that a new Genesis model, tricked out with AWD and similar features as my Tesla costs $60k. My Tesla costs just $12,500 more than that. If you haven't figured this out yet, it will take exactly five years for me surpass the TOTAL COSTS of the Genesis (with regular unleaded, not premium gas, and all highway rated economy). At the five year point, Bob and I break even on the prices of our cars and fuel.
If you compare to a higher end BMW, Mercedes, et cetera, then that break even point narrows even further, shrinking to closer to two to three years. Additionally, if gasoline prices are higher in your area, or you have solar or utilize the free supercharger network every so often then expect the Tesla to breakeven with a similar luxury/premium sedan even sooner.
Bottom line: if you plan on owning a Tesla for longer than five years…it will save you money in the long run! And we didn’t even talk about oil change wait times and costs.
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Video courtesy/credit to 'Like Tesla'