Cost of Gas vs. Electricity - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test
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2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Cost of Gas vs. Electricity

June 3, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Americans hate high gas prices. Hate, hate, hate them. Presidencies have been toppled by the inability to provide cheap gas. Just ask Jimmy Carter. So you would think Americans would embrace EVs. Not so. Or at least, not yet. Maybe the problem is no one puts a real dollar sign on the savings.

I decided to look at the fuel cost of driving our 2013 Tesla Model S 23,000 miles compared to driving the BMW 7 Series, (19 mpg combined) over the same distance. Remember, this is fuel cost only.

Here are the numbers I based my calculations on:

Average cost of electricity in California: 16 cents per kilowatthour (kWh).

Average cost of premium gas in California in 2013: $4.09

Miles driven: 23,000

Fuel efficiency of the BMW 7 Series: 19 mpg

Fuel efficiency for Tesla: 3 miles/kilowatthour

And here are the results:

Cost of electricity to drive the Tesla 23,000 miles: $1,226

Cost of premium gas to drive BMW 7 Series 23,000 miles: $4,951

Money saved on fuel by driving Tesla: $3,724

Obviously, there are many factors that could change the result of these calculations. But most of the variables play in favor of the Tesla. For example, there are many free public charging stations where there is no cost for electricity. The electricity from Tesla's superchargers is also free. And many people who get a Tesla become enraptured with solar power and have panels installed on their houses. This drops the cost of electricity well below the 16-cent average. Additionally, some utilities reduce rates for charging EVs at night. Southern California Edison, for example, charges only 11 cents kWh for charging after midnight.

Also keep in mind that these figures are just for 23,000 miles. Over 100,000 miles the savings in fuel costs is $16,192.

And this is just the savings in money. Don't even get me started on how much time you save by charging while you work, or sleep, rather than standing there in the gas station, staring at the spinning numbers on the pump.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 22,449 miles

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