The cost of driving/charging a Tesla 85D

A “quick” review of the costs of driving a Tesla

I wanted to discuss a bit about the costs of driving and charging the Tesla.  I’ve already discussed how much I enjoy driving it, but I didn’t buy it just because it’s fun and I love the technology.  The idea was that it was also a good choice for the environment and I would (eventually) save money because I no longer needed to stop at gas stations and fuel up.

Before I go into the cost, I wanted to mention how nice it is knowing I don’t have to stop for gas.  It’s not the stopping that bothered me necessarily.  It was specific moments like waking up in winter during one of those really cold mornings and realizing that I now had to go and stand outside at the gas station as I filled up the gas tank.

I’m not claiming that I don’t ever have to stop to refuel.  Granted, most days I don’t.  I drive to work, then I drive home and plug in in the garage.  However, when taking long trips, the nice thing with the Tesla is that the navigation plans for stops at the Super Chargers for you.  I’ve been surprised how advantageous it is knowing ahead of time when I’m stopping  Granted, I could do that in an internal combustion engine vehicle as well by:

  1. Determine how much gas I have.
  2. Look at my MPG.
  3. Calculate how many miles I can drive before I run out of fuel.
  4. Find all the gas stations near the point I can reach without running out of gas and set my destination to one of them that’s clean and not far off the highway.

Sounds a bit complicated.  In a Tesla I just set my destination and the navigation takes care of the stops for me.

Ok, now what the heck does it cost?

Since I picked up the vehicle I’ve driven it 7,946.4 miles.  According to the trip odometer I used 2,549.3 kWh which is about 321 wH/mile.  I could certainly drive or accelerate slower but I’m comfortable with my driving style and electricity usage.  🙂

7,946.4 miles at 321 Wh/mile

In order to calculate the total cost of the electricity, I’m using my home rate which is between $0.11 and $0.12/kWh.  So 2,550 kWh costs $280.42.  Let’s look at that a few different ways.

Nationally, in gasoline dollars, at today’s AAA national average of $2.22, that would be 126.3 gallons.  In order to drive 7,946.4 miles you’d need a vehicle that got 63 MPG.

In Wisconsin, in gasoline dollars, at today’s AAA Wisconsin average of $2.36, that would be 118.8 gallons.  In order to drive 7,946.4 miles you’d need a vehicle that got 66.8 MPG.

In California, in gasoline dollars, at today’s AAA Wisconsin average of $2.84, that would be 98.7 gallons.  In order to drive 7,946.4 miles you’d need a vehicle that got 80.5 MPG.

Note: I know electricity is more expensive in CA.  However, I don’t know what the rate is. However, you can schedule charging at night when it’s cheaper.

I think these are pretty good numbers.  However, consider that at least half of that charging was done utilizing Super Chargers, which are free.  Therefore you’d have to cut the cost of the electricity for me in half (at least).

As for my daily commute from home to work and back home again (90 miles), it costs approximately $3.46 in electricity.  That computes  to about 46% of what it cost me in my old vehicle (27MPG).

As gasoline prices increase and electricity stays the same, the price advantage will become even bigger.

Overall, you can see that it’s considerably less expensive for me to drive the Tesla than it is driving my gasoline vehicle.  Calculating maintenance costs is also another interesting exercise.  The fact that there’s no fluid in the vehicle other than windshield washer fluid means there’s no oil changes, no tune ups, etc.  Not only does that save you money, but it also saves you the trouble of trying to schedule an appointment during normal business hours.

As a quick summary, based on my calculations, it has cost me less than $140.00 for electricity whereas it would have cost me about $653 for gasoline during that same period.  Adding in the pleasure of driving the car and the performance, I feel I’m definitely getting my value’s worth.

Thanks for reading!  I hope this information was useful.


5 thoughts on “The cost of driving/charging a Tesla 85D

  1. Shane –

    Nice write up! Two things I wanted to mention though.

    One is the total energy used as calculated on the tripometer. It’s wrong. I have an energy meter that is connected to the breaker for my Tesla charger. It is about 20% higher than what the Tesla reports. Others report the same. Various reasons for this, but you may want to include it in your calculations.

    Second is there is antifreeze in the car. It’s used for the batteries. I believe it’s recommended to be changed around 100k miles.

    I have about the same mileage on my car. Love every mile!

    1. Thanks for the information. How would one go about including the unreported energy? The only way I can think of doing it is to do what you are apparently doing and put an energy meter on it. I can’t think of anything else I could do to get a more accurate number.

  2. My 2015 Tesla Model S (a full size car), capable of 140mph and 0-60 in 5 seconds, charges most nights at my house in San Diego, California (some of the most expensive electricity in the USA).

    The cost of electricity using San Diego Gas & Electric off-peak Time Of Use (TOU) plan is 17 cents per kWh between midnight and 5am. I consume about one kWh per three miles driven, therefore a “normal” person who drives 1000 miles per month would spend:

    (1000 / 3) * $0.17 = $56 monthly for transportation electricity

    Obviously, if you drive more, or have cheaper electricity (or solar), your savings over an equivalent gasoline car is even greater.

    As mentioned in the article, if you travel, the Supercharger network that is scattered throughout the USA, Europe, Japan, and China is “free forever”.

  3. Shane – great article……
    PLUS, you get a nice new Christmas gift every time you download the next revision of software!! With each new software upgrade to your Tesla, ALL these numbers improve by 15%-20%. In addition, to other new features & functions.
    You have made a lot of excellent points for Webscale/Hyper-converge and software defined data centers :).
    All the best,

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