TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker and becoming a Supporting Member. For more info: Support TMC

Is a Model 3 really cheaper?: A simplified analysis from an owner

Discussion in 'Model 3' started by camalaio, Sep 20, 2019.

  1. camalaio

    camalaio Active Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2019
    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    Vernon, BC, Canada
    #1 camalaio, Sep 20, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
    Hi folks,

    I wanted to address something that comes up fairly often: How much money can I expect to save with a Model 3, if any?

    To the disappointment of many, I will be answering this in view of the following limitations:
    • Long Range option, because that matters for many people.
    • Canadian prices and taxes, because that is where I live.
    • Comparing to a new 2019 Subaru Crosstrek, which was the AWD car we were considering if we didn't go electric. It priced out to about $42,000 (including 12% tax). Model 3 after taxes and rebates was about $74,000. Tax on the Tesla was 15% because its base price was higher, and that's how that works here.
    • We drive a lot. 600km/week for work, and we tend to venture outward often. 40,000 km/year would be a good estimate of our current habits. This is just under 25,000 miles.
    Fore-word
    We bought a Long Range AWD Model 3 because we were looking for the best EV in terms of range, efficiency, has-AWD, and utility. Oh, and have adaptive cruise control, because it's 2019 and adaptive cruise is very nice.

    Range was a necessity. Efficiency was a personal desire. AWD is very nice for the winters around here. I really want to be able to take trips with cargo in the vehicle, and occasionally tow a very light trailer.

    But sir, the Crosstrek isn't a fair comparison to the Model 3! In terms of the above criteria, it actually is. Range is sufficient given that it's gas, it's a fairly efficient little crossover thing, definitely AWD, hatchback, can tow light trailers, and has adaptive cruise with EyeSight (which has useful features that the Model 3 does not have, I should point out).

    Performance of the Model 3 is a plus for climbing hills, but I'll get there eventually either way. AutoPilot where we want it is more of a burden than a help (in fact, the adaptive cruise part has a lot of phantom braking on our routes, so we just don't use it which is really disappointing) and I did not purchase nor want the Full Self Driving option anyways.

    As for the Crosstrek, initial price is obviously a huge plus. However, what about yearly costs? Here we go!

    Contextual Information
    Gas is mildly expensive in British Columbia. Prices in my area have been somewhat stable around $1.32/L for some months, but can be as high as CAD$1.48/L. To convert, 1.32 CAD is 1.00 USD at the time of writing, so about $3.79/gallon in USA numbers.

    Electricity however is very cheap. My local provider is a hydroelectric company and charges $0.09/kWh for the first usage bucket, and $0.14/kWh after. Getting an electric car pushed us into the second bucket, unfortunately.

    Commuting by car is very prevalent where I live, as the public transit system is lacking due to our fairly spread out population.

    Costs of Driving: Gas ("ICE")
    Cars using internal combustion engines (ICE), or simply "gas cars" have many moving parts at high temperatures. We're familiar with their routine maintenance costs.

    My previous vehicle (Honda Crosstour) did well on the highway for its size, 7.2 L/100km (32.7 mpg). The Subaru Crosstrek is actually rated for the very same efficiency on the highway. Driving this would cost $47.52 for 500km.

    Regular maintenance (oil changes, oil filters, air filters) is very nearly overshadowed by the costs of fuel. I'll get into this at the end.

    Brakes are not a large cost to me personally. At 160,000km, I have 60% pads left due to highway driving and mostly using gearing to slow down.

    Early major component failure, like Tesla, is expected to be covered by warranty.

    In the future, gas prices are generally expected to rise significantly.

    Costs of Driving: Electric
    These are rough numbers. Routine maintenance for the Model 3 is expected to be low or non-existent. In my opinion, this isn't because there's less moving parts. There's less high-temperature moving parts exposed to contamination from both the environment and combustion products. All else is equal or in fact more complex.

    The Long Range Model 3 is allegedly 75kWh. Based on forum info, let's use a charging efficiency of 90% while charging at 240V 30A, which puts us around 83kWh we need to dump into the battery to travel 500km (rated range). This seems about right based on our electricity bill increases since getting the Model 3. We indeed get very close to the rated range, usually a bit better. Winter will change this for the worse (perhaps 20-40%), but winter also makes gas mileage 20-30% worse for the vehicles we have.

    83kWh costs me $11.62. 500km travelled costs me $11.62.

    I'm assuming minimal maintenance as intended, though I personally expect to change coolant at least once. Some regular servicing is common between gas and electric vehicles, so I'm not considering this as a difference. For brakes, I already hardly use brakes already so regenerative braking in the EV makes little difference to my brake maintenance.

    Minor issues common to gas vehicles are not expected. However, the fewer components of an EV generally means when something goes wrong, it's expensive.

    In the future, electricity prices are expected to rise. However, given that charging the EV is not even the majority of our electricity usage (even with such a long daily commute), I suspect any justification to raise electricity prices significantly "because of EVs" is rather unfounded and unfair to others so won't happen for a couple decades in my opinion.

    Cost of Purchase: Financing.
    I need you all to consider this, please.

    $74,000 is not a small amount to finance. $42,000 is not a small amount to finance.

    If you find yourself in the position of needing to fully finance any new vehicle purchase, it is very likely that interest will completely offset any electricity savings!

    If you have a 4.5% interest rate, the cost of borrowing $74,000 over 7 years is $12,400. Borrowing the the cheaper $42,000 vehicle is $7000 over 7 years. However, dealerships (not Tesla) often have something like 0% or 0.9% financing. 0.9% over 7 years costs you only $1,300, a difference of $11,100.

    I used a purposely slightly higher than possible rate. If you get a worse rate than this, it's extremely not recommended. You're paying far more in the long run for a depreciating asset.

    Use the numbers below. Do your own math. Be real with yourself.

    Costs of Driving: Compared

    Per 100km

    • Gas: $9.50
    • Electric: $2.32
    Electric is roughly a quarter of the cost, and saves $7.18 per 100km.

    Per Year (40,000km)
    • Gas: $3,801.60
    • Electric: $929.60
    Electric is roughly a quarter of the cost, and saves $2,872 per year.

    Comparison Discussion

    The savings over gas would take over 12 years to account for the difference in price between the two considered vehicles.


    12 years down the road, 480,000km (300,000 miles) will have been put on the vehicle. It's fair to assume at this point that one major component of the Crosstrek needed work. However, it is also fair to assume the battery of the Model 3 is in a degraded state at this point. Replacing the battery may be just as expensive as replacing the whole drivetrain of a gas-powered vehicle (if not more so), and is something that should not be ignored at a whopping 480,000km. Therefore, for long-term scenarios, I deem it unfair to state that the Model 3 is nearly maintenance-cost-free and assert that there are no cumulative maintenance or parts savings over a gas vehicle.

    I did not include a ~250,000km gas vehicle constantly being in the shop for minor issues. From what I've seen in life, this is hard to quantify or predict. However, let's say it adds up to an engine or transmission replacement. The EV battery replacement still overshadows this.

    There's still potential for major component failure on the Model 3, let's not forget that.

    So, why Model 3?
    In actuality, I factored in more costs. The car being replaced (Honda Crosstour) had additional maintenance for differential and other driveline components that was also performed very frequently. This 4WD system's "special" Honda fluids were not only replaced frequently, but cost a lot of money. Let's factor in the pricing of more technologically advanced goop then.

    Of course, there's other less frequent but notable maintenance items. The timing belt replacement at 160,000km is very expensive. You've got to do spark plugs perhaps around the same time as well. A leak here, a leak there, some seals replaced. A 12V battery or two. In the end, giving Tesla the benefit of the doubt that the Model 3 is indeed nearly "maintenance-free", my Excel sheet led to...

    11 years.

    11 years down the road, the total cost of ownership is expected to be the same as another newly-purchased gas vehicle (well, the Crosstrek). At 11 years, the risk of battery replacement above still comes into the picture.

    So why purchase it?

    We wanted to stop burning fossil fuels. There's hydroelectricity here, which means our electric usage is indeed having an immediate benefit in terms of CO2 emissions. Yes, dams are worse in other regards, which I admit I am ignorant of.

    I also want other people to drive electric, and giving our vast amounts of money to the company doing the apparent best job at EVs was a primary motivator. Perhaps one day this will be cheaper for others to take part. For now, I hope our investment serves to reduce our personal footprint, and also helps Tesla get more people into EVs.

    There are other attractive EVs, some with more issues than others either personally or factually. But honestly, even with Tesla lead times, it was the only viable EV that we could purchase within 8 months, and we needed it within 5 months to arrive in time to be our winter vehicle replacement (a purchase was going to be made, EV or not).

    And if I'm being really, really honest with myself... I do love that I don't have to find where to dispose of used oil and car parts anymore, or constantly feel as if the next oil change is just around the corner. Phew.

    Also, have y'all driven a Model 3? They're a blast :D

    tl;dr: Model 3 Long Range is expensive. It is a car. Every car eventually has bits that wear out, and those bits are expensive on an EV. EV saves some daily money, but not compared to the price premium nor to eventual wear. Therefore, overall, Model 3 Long Range is expensive as of 2019.
     
    • Like x 7
    • Informative x 1
  2. Petrocelli

    Petrocelli Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2019
    Messages:
    373
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I considered buying a base model 3, versus a Mercedes C300 Coupe. When I figured in all costs, it costs about $100 a month more for me to drive the Mercedes. But keep in mind, the price of the Model 3 is about $40,0000, and the MSRP of the C300 is $51,000. So you get more car for your money for that $100.
     
    • Funny x 2
  3. tvad

    tvad Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2019
    Messages:
    979
    Location:
    California
    Very nice analysis.

    For us, the cost to drive a Model 3 is definitely more expensive than the alternative when all costs of ownership are taken into account, and we will certainly be selling before the eight year battery warranty expires.

    We're not kidding ourselves. It's a feel good purchase. And, it is fun to drive.
     
    • Like x 3
    • Informative x 1
  4. camalaio

    camalaio Active Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2019
    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    Vernon, BC, Canada
    I assume your monthly costs involve financing? I admit I've only outlined this in terms of eventual costs without regard for a monthly budget. That said, I'm surprised it's only $100 when factoring in everything!

    Thanks :)

    You're the first I've interacted with that shares this opinion ("feel good purchase"). Many coworkers and friends keep telling us we've made a good financial decision (as well as other Model 3 owners, of course). We most certainly have not!!
     
  5. tvad

    tvad Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2019
    Messages:
    979
    Location:
    California
    I appreciate your practical and realistic viewpoint on the Model 3 purchase. Enjoy the car.
     
  6. SammichLover

    SammichLover Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2018
    Messages:
    2,618
    Location:
    Yup
    Assume he's a FOS troll. ;) I've not followed him but whenever I've come across his posts they are full of nonsensical assertions and twisting of reality into pretzels to try support his assertions.
     
    • Like x 1
  7. camalaio

    camalaio Active Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2019
    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    Vernon, BC, Canada
    Meh, no big deal. I completely understand the viewpoint and can even agree on a lot of points that a C300 is "more car". Heck, in many ways the Crosstrek is "more car" if you care about leather, driver assist features, etc. I actually really dislike the fake leather in the Model 3 and would prefer cloth or real leather options.
     
  8. SammichLover

    SammichLover Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2018
    Messages:
    2,618
    Location:
    Yup
    Autopilot (<edit> even just the cheap-o basic AP that's now bundled in) is in a league beyond EyeSight, and if you're focusing on long distance driving the Crosstrek isn't actually all that comparable there. There really isn't anything that is outside of maybe Cadillac's SuperCruise on their whitelist of highways.
     
    • Disagree x 3
    • Like x 2
  9. SammichLover

    SammichLover Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2018
    Messages:
    2,618
    Location:
    Yup
    I isn't that, I'm guessing the math that he used to arrive where he did would strike a sane man blind. ;) You really have to see the posts to grasp what he's capable of.

    But then I wouldn't advise that, I'd have put him on Ignore if I came across his posts more.
     
  10. What The Frunk

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2019
    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    Toronto
    Your in-depth analysis is well done. However, here are a few thoughts.

    Gas prices and electricity prices vary from province to province, and state to state so the math will differ. Also if you compare to other ICE cars the numbers will be different. Plus historically some ICE brands and models are more prone to regular breakdowns than others.

    Elon started that in the next 6-8 years battery replacement should be around US$4-5K and that it will allow for a longer range than what you currently have. That is way cheaper than buying a new car. You mentioned that your ICE car will need a transmission/engine replacement in that same time span. So you made the argument that these two scenarios would cost about the same. Except many more moving mechanical parts will fail on an ICE car in that time span unlike in a Tesla. This is assuming neither vehicles are lemons otherwise the comparison would not be fair.

    The justification of buying a Tesla over any ICE vehicle will be different for everyone.
    Every single Tesla owner I've met has told me they have no regrets in their decision and they confirm that they are definitively saving money versus their previous automobiles.
    Besides, once you drive a Tesla everything else is unecceptable. Enjoy driving the future.
     
  11. camalaio

    camalaio Active Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2019
    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    Vernon, BC, Canada
    Your variance in resource prices is a very good point. My intent (which I didn't present very well) was to show that I'm in a fairly ideal scenario for comparison: High gas prices, low electricity prices. I'll make a note of that if I share this elsewhere, thanks! And yeah, comparing to other vehicles is of course a reality (as is comparing to used, comparing to nothing, etc.). I figure for many of the people I talk to, this is a somewhat common comparison price-wise, and roughly average efficiency as well. Gotta start somewhere.

    Elon's replacement price was per module if we're talking about the same quote, and I think there are 4 such modules on the Long Range if I recall correctly. So we're talking 20,000 USD as an ideal future price, yikes.

    For what it's worth, Tesla doesn't have a stellar reliability history. Early Model S and Model X had many very expensive issues. Out of warranty, these hurt a lot. They've certainly gotten better, but it's difficult to tell if we're out of the woods since the Model 3 is fairly new.

    At the risk of deviating the conversation from my intent (my bad for comparing systems), it might be worth pointing out I have a preference for assists and alerts rather than full control systems. I don't understand your point about long distance driving with the Crosstrek, unless you mean the ability to have more autonomous driving with lane-keeping.

    Like I said (without a lot of detail to be fair), AP flat out doesn't work well on our highways. Both lane departure warning and forward collision warning in my Honda Crosstour works much better with less false positives. AutoPilot has the car crossing lane lines very dangerously around corners. Adaptive cruise has a lot of phantom braking on our routes (no overpasses, just corners and semis) which has nearly led to rear-ending since it's so unexpected and sudden. Not worth using it, and I don't have a way to set cruise without it phantom braking unfortunately. (I can ride the throttle to prevent braking, but then why use cruise at all?)

    Subaru has rear cross-traffic alert, a no-brainer feature that is incredibly helpful in parking lots which Tesla has no equivalent for. Both Honda and Subaru have natural assists for blind spots, Tesla's is awkward at best (though active if you go to far, to be fair). This is what I meant by it has useful features the Model 3 does not, and remains true regardless of the utility of AutoPilot.

    This is my opinion after actually using the vehicles (the Honda and Model 3 much more so than the Subaru, to be fair).
     
    • Disagree x 2
    • Like x 1
    • Funny x 1
  12. SammichLover

    SammichLover Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2018
    Messages:
    2,618
    Location:
    Yup
    Autopilot is 100% "driver assist". It is erroneous, and frankly dangerous, to think of it as "full control".

    Exactly that. Driving long distance with AP is flat out transformational in how much faster and ultimately safer it is in a practical sense, as you don't get washed out with fatigue driving.

    BWHAHAHAHA
     
    • Disagree x 2
    • Like x 1
  13. Sanny

    Sanny Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2013
    Messages:
    298
    Location:
    US
    Too long to read. You forgot to factor the depreciation. Model 3 LR cost too mich in Canada for sure, but it should loose value slow too (because of low maintenance). Otherwise $2000 Camry would win in every cost analysis.
     
    • Disagree x 2
  14. camalaio

    camalaio Active Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2019
    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    Vernon, BC, Canada
    I absolutely agree that treating it as autonomous without attention or taking over is dangerous, and my past posts corroborate this. However, the distinction I am trying to draw is that other systems let you still control the direction of the car while the systems are still active. If you attempt to do the same with a Tesla, it cancels out autosteer. I prefer the former that lets me still drive, allows me to gives cars more room, and generally isn't a on-off approach to assist.

    Gotcha, but... AP doesn't make trips faster unless you're setting it to a higher speed than when you don't use AP.

    Annnd there it is. If you're ever in BC, come test-drive AP on the highways around here. Until then, you've got my anecdote. I suspect it works much better on, say, US interstates that are very straight. Actually, it did work much better on the Coquihalla highway in the straighter spots, that's just not where I normally drive. I'll continue to limit my use of AP because I can see where it crosses lane lines and slams on the brakes, regardless of what the laughing internet folk think the system is capable of.

    Yeah... brevity is not a trait I posses, heh. In defense of the length, omitting anything leads to questions I'd just have to answer anyways. I sort of wrote this as an answer to people that ask me in person.

    Depreciation is a good point, especially since I brought it up in a different context in the post but did not consider this aspect. I wrote it as if one would own the car throughout the whole lifespan, which I personally plan on doing. Given the same conditions though, say the Model 3 held 65% of its value and the Subaru held 50% (I believe those are reasonable numbers, please let me know if that's somehow inaccurate). That's $25,900 "lost" the Model 3 and $21,000 for the Crosstrek. If those numbers can hold, that is indeed very attractive given the yearly savings at high travel rates, however I pulled these numbers from nowhere. I suspect resale value is an odd curve due to increasing degradation risks of older batteries.
     
    • Funny x 1
  15. SammichLover

    SammichLover Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2018
    Messages:
    2,618
    Location:
    Yup
    #15 SammichLover, Sep 20, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
    Which is distinction without practical purpose here. Or more to the point, you're making as arbitrary decision about a standard.
    No, here it is.

    My evolving thoughts on autopilot

    From this (I can't locate at the moment his post with more details about his AP experience in the BC Interior). But check the last line of this post:

    A very unpleasant surprise.

    Note that thread's main topic is about vampire drain as that post is over a year old. Meaning he was using AP from over a year ago, AP is mindbogglingly better now than then. Through the Okanagan and beyond (I know where Vernon is, I've been). It changed his mind about AP to the better. Because he used it, in his estimation, for 95% of the time. ((In my experience of actual measuring, just casually guessing you'll overestimate how much distance is not on AP.))

    If you're just measuring when your physical body arrives, no. However in the practical measurement of it, it absolutely does because with AP the true clock stops when your body arrives. If your body arrives heavily fatigued you might as well not be there until you recover.
     
  16. tvad

    tvad Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2019
    Messages:
    979
    Location:
    California
    Yup. Here we go...
     
    • Like x 1
    • Funny x 1
  17. camalaio

    camalaio Active Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2019
    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    Vernon, BC, Canada
    You know, I must absolutely applaud you for finding someone else's story around nearby highways. I have no idea if that was memory or search, but you get a star. If you want to be more specific, Vernon <-> Winfield and Vernon <-> Enderby are the spots I have the most trouble with. I can see how the individual was happy with AP between Nakusp and Revelstoke, as I might be as well. There are few other vehicles on that stretch to interact with, making the AP experience significantly less worrisome to the point I might enjoy using it if I didn't prefer driving the car myself.

    In the interest of this thread though, perhaps it's best to drop the driver assist topic. It isn't the main topic (long-term financials of a Long Range Model 3) and it's a topic that's been beaten to death, with no one realistically going to change their views (myself included, sorry) since their personal AP experiences will always be more personally valuable, let alone practically valuable since they know the roads they travel and how AP behaves on them. I haven't outright stopped using AP, but my usage of it is indeed limited.

    :)

    As I said above, it's best for all if we just drop it since it's not the main topic anyways.
     
  18. MP3Mike

    MP3Mike Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Messages:
    14,517
    Location:
    Oregon
    #18 MP3Mike, Sep 20, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
    No it wasn't. Do you have a link that specifies that?

    Even right now an entire new pack is only $15,000. (With trade-in of your damaged one.) So no way replacing just the modules would be $20,000. (And he said it would cost $5k-$7k so if that was per module, which it isn't, and you got 2 of the smaller at $5k and 2 of the larger at $7k you would be looking at $24k.) Again an entire new LR pack is only $15k, and it will only get cheaper from here...
     
  19. Dan203

    Dan203 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Messages:
    1,415
    Location:
    Northern Nevada
    Are those Canadian dollars?
     
  20. camalaio

    camalaio Active Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2019
    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    Vernon, BC, Canada
    Elon Musk on Twitter

    "Modules, not pack". From the horse's mouth. And 5-7k, not 4-5k.
     

Share This Page

  • About Us

    Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.
  • Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


    SUPPORT TMC