Real Life Cost of a Tesla Model 3

It’s been a bit more than 2 weeks since I got my Model 3 as a result of my impulse-buying, so as an end user I think I’m qualified to do some cost analysis and projection based on the first 1000km I’ve done with the car.

Disclaimer: The following analysis is based on my calculation with my personal data. “Your mileage may vary”. Also this is only concerning money, all those driving experience and zero emission bluff are safely ignored here.

The major saving for driving a Tesla is from the running cost, ie. ‘fuel’ cost. Though the Model 3 Long Range claims a nice 657KM range for a fully charged battery, when I do school runs with AC set to a comfortable 20 degree, the estimated range is about 540KM, which translates to roughly 15kwh/100km.

If I replaced an EV with a Tesla, the saving won’t be great. Fortunately the one got replaced is a 3.0L Diesel SUV which has an average 8.3L/100km fuel economy( and I believe that’s a pretty good one among 3.0L SUVs).

Then the saving per 100km depends on the electricity and diesel fuel prices. There isn’t any way to get around the diesel price, ie. I always fill my tank at nearby petrol station. I just grab the “Don’t pay above” price from RACV‘s data and it’s 132.8c today. The Diesel SUV costs me AUD 11.02 per 100KM.

For electricity however, there are ways to save money: midnight electricity is usually cheap, and it can go even cheaper if charging with solar power during the day. So here’s a table for cost saving grouped by different source of electricity.

The other import saving comes from the 0 maintenance of a Tesla car. Like I stated in my previous click-bait style post, A Tesla car doesn’t need to see a mechanic. For my diesel SUV, there is a major maintenance every 20,000km and a minor one between the major ones and we usually do more than 20,000km a year. Also there were cost to replace parts such as coolant or catalytic converter so for the sake of simplicity I’ll put AUD 1500/year as an average cost and the real figure could be easily bigger.

Some common cost both ICE and EV cars have are ignored, such as rego, insurance, AC filter and tyre, etc. costs.

Electricity SourceRateSaving/100kmSaving/yr(25,000km)Combined Saving
Home/Grid off peak17cAUD 8.47AUD 2,118AUD 3,618
Home/Solar power10.2cAUD 9.49AUD 2,373AUD 3,873
Super charger42cAUD 4.72AUD 1,180AUD 2,680
25,000km/yr is much higher than average but we have decided to do school runs with a car thanks to covid

On the other hand, a Tesla costs a premium and my Model 3 Long Range figure is almost AUD 90,000. My SUV can be sold for at least AUD 20,000, so it’s an AUD 70,000 expense out of my pocket. Depending on finance options, below is a list of overall saving(combined saving – loss to interest)

Finance OptionRateLossOverall Estimated Saving
Cash + 1 year Term1%AUD 700AUD 1,980 ~ 3,173
Cash + Offset2.2%AUD 1,540AUD 1,180 ~ 2,373
Car Finance2%AUD 1,400AUD 1,280 ~ 2,473
Thanks to the super low interest rate, having a term deposit is the worst thing to do.

Of course there’s a possibility that someone bought 35 BTC with AUD 70k a few years ago, and that definitely is the best investment. But other than that, buying a Tesla this year actually saves me a few thousand dollars a year.

EDIT: Another faction is depreciation of the car’s value, here’s some simple research I did with Obviously all cars depreciate and it’s best to not own one if possible 😀 but looks like Tesla depreciate slower based on samples from the past 5 years.

ModelDepreciation/yrPrice When NewLoss/yr
Tesla Model S 75D 2016~7%AUD 158kAUD 11,840
BMW 4 435i F33 2016~11%AUD 128kAUD 14,840
Cash~1.68%AUD 90kAUD 1,518
The depreciation rate was calculated roughly based on 2016 car price when new and used car price found in Cash depreciation rate is the average inflation rate of 2016 – 2020


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