Today I discuss how my Tesla fuel costs are $200 a month lower than if I had a gas powered vehicle.
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I’ve had my Tesla Model 3 since August 2018, so roughly 15 months. Over this time period, I’ve driven it almost 31,000 miles. The vast majority of this driving has been from my commute, which is 80-100 miles round trip (depending on my route). In this post, I go over how avoiding the gas pump and oil changes is saving me over $200 a month in fuel costs.
Why the heck do I have a Model 3?
I’ve previously discussed my rationale for buying an expensive car like the Model 3. Much of the purchase was prompted by my heinous commute from Los Angeles to the hospital where I work. An electric car allows me to legally drive in the carpool lane, cutting 10% off my commute. Tesla’s Autopilot technology also makes my drive much less stressful, and frees my mind to ponder things like this blog and my burgeoning real estate empire.
Another important reason behind my purchase, though, was the fact that Tesla fuel costs are much lower than gas powered cars.
Gas is expensive!
This is especially relevant this year, as recently I’ve noticed gas prices shooting up in Southern California.
The average gas price in Los Angeles during 2018 was $3.51, according to the LA Almanac. In 2019, it’s only gotten worse. Middle East turmoil and refinery repairs in SoCal have pushed gas prices to between $4-5/gallon.
This all prompted me to finally calculate how much I’m saving in fuel and oil change costs by driving an electric vehicle.
For these calculations, my comparison vehicle is the 2016 Mazda CX-5, which gets 26 miles/gallon combined driving, which is a mix of highway and city driving. This was the car that I sold for the Model 3.
Below, take a look at my calculations and summaries.
|Tesla Model 3||Mazda CX-5|
|Miles driven||30,876||30,876 (hypothetical)|
|Efficiency||250 kWh/mile||26 miles / gallon|
|Energy/Fuel consumed||7734 kWh||1,188 gallons|
|Cost per kWh/Gallon||$0.17458||$3.51|
Note: I’m using $3.51/gallon for the calculations. If I used the current average gas prices in SoCal, the savings would be higher.
|Oil change savings|
|Synthetic oil changes||every 7500 miles|
|Number of oil changes||4|
|Oil change cost avoided||$280|
|Total fuel cost savings over 15 months||$2,820|
|Oil change savings over 15 months||$280|
|Tesla fuel cost savings per month||$207|
To efficiently charge my vehicle at home, I did need to install a charging station in my driveway. While this did cost some money upfront to install, it efficiently recharges my car back to full each night in just a few hours.
The charger itself cost $500, but a local rebate program fully covered the cost of this. So my only cost was the fee from my electrician.
|Home charging costs|
|Tesla charger cost||Free with rebate|
|Months to break even||7.65|
Explanation: since I’m saving $207 a month in fuel and oil change savings, the charger installation paid for itself in 7.65 months.
|Payment Comparison (monthly)|
|Tesla Model 3||$932|
|Adjusted with fuel/oil change cost savings||$141 more|
In summary, after accounting for the savings from avoiding gas and oil changes, my monthly Tesla fuel costs are $207 less than with my previous car. Taking this into account, the Tesla is costing me only $141 a month more than my Mazda CX-5. Carpool lane access saves me about 4 hours of driving a month, and Autopilot frees my mind to ponder this blog and things like self-actualization and investment goals.
Overall, I’d consider this money well spent!
Wait… what? The title of the post is misleading, you say? I’m still paying more each month for the Tesla than my other car? OK, alright, fine, you’re technically correct.
While I’m at it, I should mention that I drive a lot more than your average commuter. This amplifies the savings that I’m experiencing.
I still have some unease at owning a Tesla while being a finance blogger. Even for a moFIRE blogger, it seems a bit weird. I’m working through it still. Thanks for listening.
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