What‘s the Total Cost of Buying and Owning a Tesla? A Comprehensive Buyer‘s Guide

So you‘re thinking about living that zero-emissions lifestyle with your very own Tesla electric vehicle. Their combination of cutting-edge technology, straight-line performance and renewable energy power is predictably compelling. But before pulling the trigger, a big question still remains on many prospective buyer‘s minds – what‘s the grand total cost I‘ll really end up paying in both the near and long term by going electric with Tesla?

In this exhaustive 3,000+ word analysis, we‘ll aim to answer that bottom line question in full detail by looking at:

  • Upfront Tesla purchase prices across all models
  • Projected charging costs compared to gas
  • Available incentives and tax credits
  • Expected long-term ownership costs
  • Key factors impacting total cost of ownership

Our goal is to provide interested buyers with a transparent, data-driven look at the complete financial picture so you can determine if driving the future makes not only ethical but economic sense too. Let‘s crunch the numbers!

Tesla Model Lineup Purchase Prices

First, let‘s establish baseline pricing if you bought a Tesla at list cost directly from their site today. Here‘s a look at current entry-level configurations for Tesla‘s full electric vehicle lineup:

Tesla Model 3 RWD: $40,690
Tesla Model Y AWD: $54,990
Tesla Model S RWD: $102,990
Tesla Model X AWD: $108.990

Those figures reflect base prices including current delivery fees but before adding fancy options, upgrades or external incentives. So where does pricing go from here? A fully-loaded Model S Plaid with all the fixings can quickly exceed $150,000. But a modestly equipped Long Range Model 3 can also clock out under $50,000 too.

Exact upfront cost varies widely based on specs, available tax credits and more. And that‘s before we consider charging expenses and long-term savings. So let‘s break things down category-by-category.

Charging Cost Comparison: Teslas vs Gas Cars

For drivers switching from decade-plus old paid-off gas cars to brand new EVs, the pivotal question isn‘t necessarily sticker price shock. Rather, how will this impact my transportation energy costs powering everyday commuting?

Industry research provides encouraging answers for prospective Tesla buyers. Data analytics firm Anderson Economic Group found that electricity costs for powering popular EVs comparable to the base Tesla Model 3 still slightly edge out similar gas-powered vehicles.

Public Charging vs Home Charging Cost Analysis

The firm‘s study broke down real-world charging costs for mid-sized internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE) like the Toyota Camry versus similar mid-priced electric vehicles (EVs). Here‘s how at-home versus public charging costs per 100 miles compared:

Mid-Priced ICE Vehicle

  • Camry MPG: 31 combined city/highway
  • Fuel cost per gallon: $3.89 national average
  • Cost per 100 Miles: $12.54

Mid-Priced EV (60 kWh)

  • Electricity Cost Per kWh: $0.16 (Level 2 Home Charger)

  • Cost per 100 Miles (Home): $10.99

  • Electricity Cost per kWh: $0.32 (Public Charger)

  • Cost per 100 Miles (Public): $19.20

As you can see, home charging with a Level 2 setup clearly provides the cheapest way power your daily commuting miles. But public DC fast charging for rapid top-offs while out and about carries a much heftier per mile cost.

Tesla Supercharger Network Fees

  • Electricity Cost Per kWh: ~$0.34
  • Cost per 100 Miles: Approximately $18.60

Tesla provides exclusive access to their nationwide Supercharger high speed charging network. Pricing sits roughly between home Level 2 costs and third-party public DC fast charging for non-Tesla EVs. Rates vary slightly by region and over time.

Charging Cost Impacts on Total Ownership

Let‘s put those per-mile charging costs into perspective looking at total five year operating costs. We‘ll assume 15,000 miles of annual driving typical for the average driver.

  • Mid-Price ICE Car: 75,000 total miles @ 31 MPG and $3.89/gallon
    • Fuel Costs: Total $8,737
  • Tesla Model 3 (60 kWh EV @ 0.16 per kWh electricity)
    • Home Charging Costs: Total $7,200
    • Supercharger Costs: Total $11,115
  • Total Savings vs ICE Over 5 Years
    • Home Charging: $1,537
    • Supercharger Charging: $-2,378 (more expensive than ICE)

This illustrates that utilizing lower-cost home charging solutions is critical to saving money long run versus gas vehicles. Relying exclusively on DC fast charging erodes those savings over time.

Federal Credits and Local Incentives

If you‘ve started pricing potential Tesla purchases, no doubt you‘ve discovered that tax incentives and credits can lower costs. Let‘s break down savings available to EV buyers at publishing time.

As shown above, federal credits up to $7,500 are still available for Tesla buyers who qualify by meeting income caps and other eligibility factors.

However, dozens of states, utilities and even certain employers also offer EV buyers cash back, special electricity rates, HOV lane access and other ownership perks. With some diligence, you may pocket $10,000+ in combined incentives slashing effective pricing.

Every incentive reduces payback period and long term costs that much further – so don‘t leave these savings untouched!

Factoring Total Tesla Ownership Cost

With so many variables impacting pricing, what‘s the real bottom line cost of owning a Tesla through the typical new car ownership cycles? Here let‘s run the numbers mapping out projected 5 year total cost of ownership.

We‘ll look at perhaps the most popular Tesla – the dual motor Long Range Model 3 – and compare it against a similarly priced luxury gas compact, the Audi A4 Quattro.

5 Year Cost of Ownership Comparison

Tesla Model 3 Long Range (Dual Motor AWD)

|Vehicle Purchase Price | $54,490 | |
|- Potential Federal Tax Credit | $7,500 | |
|- Potential Electric Vehicle Incentives | $2,500 | |
|Effective Net Purchase Price | $44,490 | |
|Electricity Costs (500 mi/mo x 0.12 per kWh x 60 mo – primarily home charging)| $4,320 | |
|Insurance Premiums ($115/mo x 60 months)| $6,900 | |
|Charger Installation | $1,200 | |
|Scheduled Maintenance| $1,800 | |
|Total 5 Year Ownership Cost| $58,710 | |

Luxury Compact ICE – Audi A4 Quattro

|MSRP Purchase Price| $43,300||
|Fuel Costs (30 MPG x 15K mi/yr x $3.25/gal x 5 years)| $16,250||
|Insurance Premiums ($142/mo x 60 mo)| $8,520||
|Scheduled Maintenance ($600/yr x 5 years)| $3,000| |
|Total 5 Year Ownership Cost |$71,070||

Let‘s analyze key takeaways:

  • Even with a higher upfront purchase price, total 5 year costs run over $12,000 less getting into a well-equipped Long Range Tesla Model 3 due primarily to fuel savings and tax incentives
  • ICE maintenance schedules and rising gas prices expected over the next decade expand that gap further
  • Tesla insurance offered in some states leverages their industry-best safety ratings for considerably lower premiums

So while sticker shock persists looking at just MSRPs alone, taking the longer ownership view reveals compelling savings jumping onboard the EV movement early.

When Does Buying a Tesla Make Financial Sense?

Given information we‘ve covered about purchase prices, operating costs and incentives, what scenario makes owning a Tesla the optimal financial decision? Here are three key factors to consider:

You Travel High Annual Mileage

The fuel and maintenance savings magnify greatly for drivers putting 25,000+ miles annually onto vehicles. High mileage use over 5-10 years offsets higher upfront pricing.

Your Electricity Rates Are Low

Regions with abundant hydroelectric, solar, wind and nuclear energy enjoy cheaper grid rates. Paying under 10 cents per kWh makes home EV charging extremely affordable. Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Tennessee offer some of the lowest rates nationwide.

Incentives Are Strong In Your Region

EV hot spots like California offer both Federal tax credits and state rebates up to $10,000 off Tesla purchases. Other areas add HOV lane access, lower registration fees and utility discounts. Do your homework to maximize locally available perks.

On the flip side, importing a Tesla may not make financial sense yet in areas lacking infrastructure, incentives, and low renewable electricity pricing. But expanding charging networks, renewable energy production and likely rising gas costs will continue tipping equations in EVs‘ favor over time.

Final Thoughts on Total Tesla Ownership Costs

In this detailed analysis, our goal was to provide facts and figures covering the full ownership costs prospective buyers should consider before adding one of these vehicles to their driveway.

While Tesla MSRPs clearly sit at a premium versus economy ICE cars, factoring available tax credits, fuel savings and lower maintenance helps balance the ledger over the long run. Choosing models like the entry Model 3 and Y further help contain starting prices while still providing startling acceleration and high-tech features.

Hopefully this transparent look provides greater confidence around total ownership costs so more buyers feel empowered to adopt zero-emission transportation. With more affordable options like the 2023 Tesla Model 3 providing 329 miles of range plus 60 MPH in under 5 seconds for around $50,000 out the door, the switch rarely made more financial sense.

The future of sustainable electric transportation is here. Let us know if you have any other questions around purchasing or owning one of these revolutionary and disruptive vehicles from Tesla.

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