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Reference Cars for Comparing Charging v. Fueling Costs

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by Pollux, Sep 13, 2013.

  1. Pollux

    Pollux Active Member

    Jul 16, 2013
    Merry land / District of Confusion

    As a new owner, I'm playing the "what if I had to pay for gas?!" game. I've seen many posts from various angles but hope with this thread to consolidate comparisons into one place. For each trim or reasonable set of Model S variants, I'd like to come up with one or two comparable ICE vehicles. Then, when I'm engaged in roadside conversations about the S, I can trot out examples of what electricity has cost me with the S versus what I would project gas to cost for the same mileage for the reference vehicle.

    I propose that reference vehicles fall into the same general price range as the comparable Model S trim, and offer similar performance and luxury characteristics. I don't expect these criteria to be identical, as it seems clear to me that (for instance) many of the luxury vehicles offer features not yet found on the Model S. But the comparison should "feel" reasonable.

    I hope that you will chime in with your proposed reference vehicles and your rationale for matching it to the proposed Model S trim line.

    Model S Trim Reference Vehicle Ref Vehicle EPA MPG
    P85+ Porsche Panamera Turbo 24 mpg
    P85 Audi S8? 19 mpg (combined)
    S85 BMW?
    S60 ?

    For example, I compare the electricity cost of my P85+ with the projected gas cost of a Porsche Panamera Turbo. I've driven my Model S a total of 1848 miles, expending 621.3 kwh. I'll assume that the Porsche achieves its EPA rated mileage... a pretty big assumption.

    Netting out my complicated town electricity bill, I get $0.13188/kWh. So 621.3 kWh * $0.13188/kWh = $81.94 for the miles I've driven in the Model S. showed me the cheapest premium gas prices in my area; I averaged the six cheapest and got $4.025/gallon. At 24mpg, the Porsche would have consumed 77 gallons, which in turn would have cost 77 gallons * $4.025/gallon = $309.93.

    So in this example my P85+ comes in at 26% of the gas cost of the Panamera Turbo. If you don't wind up paying more for your premium gas; and if you can get 24 mpg out of your Panamera. :) And, no, I have NOT been hypermiling the Model S. Far from it. :)

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

  2. Volker.Berlin

    Volker.Berlin Member

    Dec 16, 2011
  3. Volker.Berlin

    Volker.Berlin Member

    Dec 16, 2011
    My reference car is a Ford Focus Diesel (oil). For the price of the Model S alone I could have bought a fully-loaded Focus *and* a lifetime supply of oil... I guess there must be some non-economic reason why I bought my Model S...
  4. astrotoy

    astrotoy Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    My other car is a 2007 Lexus LS460L (Exec Class) which is the only other car than the Model S to get a Consumer Reports score of 99. It also cost pretty much the same out the door as my well loaded Model S (not a P or P+), at between $90K and $100K after rebate for the Model S and a discount for the LS. In my real world, I get about 350wh per mile (for the first 6+ months, driving about 1000 miles/month), while my Lexus gets about 18 mpg under the same conditions (though much less total miles these days, since I and my wife both prefer driving the Model S). Both are big luxurious cars - the Lexus more so, and both have very similar 0-60 times (around 5.5 sec) and are both extremely quiet on the inside.

    Using the EV rate at night from PG&E for northern California (10 cents/kwh) to charge up my car, I get about 120 miles on $4.20 worth of electricity, where I get 18 miles on my Lexus on a gallon of gas for the same price. Not including other maintenance costs for the Lexus nor the Vampire losses for the Model S.
  5. kendallpb

    kendallpb Model S: P 8061

    Oct 29, 2010
    MD, USA
    That wouldn't have worked with me (and, I'm guessing, others) since I wasn't in the market for a luxury or premium vehicle. So I'd've been like, "...but how's it compare to a normal car?" I drove a Mazda Miata and was looking to "upgrade," if you will, to a hybrid or electric vehicle. But a comparison to a regular (non-lux) sedan, or sporty-but-not-$$$, car would've worked. I probably wouldn't have ever been looking at a Porsche, Audi, or BMW, so that comparison would've been lost on me.

    The fueling versus charging comparison using EPA numbers is good! I'm just saying, if you name cars, include a car or three that "regular folk" (LOL) might drive/buy. Because the people you talk with won't necessarily be lux/premium car drivers.

    Anyway, just my two cents--hope I'm making sense.

    - - - Updated - - -

    P.S. In case it isn't clear, my point is that someone who doesn't drive a high-end car may be interested (as I was!) in the Model S for other reasons, so the base price, they may be able to look past...but the gas-versus-electricity comparison may still be persuasive. :)
  6. donv

    donv Member

    Jul 15, 2013
    Lake Jeanclia, OR
    I don't bother with a "reference" car, although I've done some similar calculations. I just assume 15 mpg city and 20 highway, and compare to that. That is about what my Audi A6 did in real world conditions.

    I expect whatever car I would have purchased instead of the Tesla (probably Audi A7 or BMW 5-series) would be similar. I seriously considered a Cadillac CTS-V wagon, and I think that would have been worse.
  7. David_Cary

    David_Cary Member

    Dec 17, 2012
    Cary, NC
    Just to be difficult... The 528i has a combined rating of 28 mpg and when I had a 545, I always beat the EPA rating. So your reference car is way worse than a 5 series (at least the most efficient one).

    There is a big difference when people go around comparing to a 15 mpg car vs a near 30 mpg car. People want to justify buying a Tesla so they pick the 15 mpg reference and usually $4.50 a gallon (which maybe correct in CA but nowhere else). So they get $500 a month in gas (20k miles) and at that price, a Tesla makes practical financial sense compared to any upscale vehicle. But a 528i could do 1/2 that and "only" cost $55k.

    A reasonable reference would be average new car which is about 25 combined in 2013 - that includes trucks and SUVs.
  8. Alfred

    Alfred Supporting Member

    May 28, 2009
    This table here might be a starting point. Those are the cars the Models S faces in the market.
  9. nolngrgrsngslde

    Aug 14, 2012
    You have to account for vampire load and inefficiencies of the charging process and heating and cooling. When the car says that it used 621kwh, the electric meter will beg to differ. THe meter probably saw usage closer to 750Kwh. I posted my numbers somewhere on this website which showed the differences between the wall and the car. Another poster did the same thing.

    I found that while the car says that my average Kwh per mile is 300, TED (the energy detective) connected to the car circuit says it is closer to 450 Kwh per mile. Based on my old 525i which gave me 22 mpg, the Tesla cost per mile is about 1/3 that of the BMW, not 1/4 as you found.


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