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Tesla

Electric Car Charging Cost vs Gas

I am regularly asked how much it costs to charge the Tesla Model 3 Long Range, or electric vehicles in general: Electric Car Charging Cost vs Gas. I set out to research how much it costs to charge under different common circumstances, and compare this information with a similar gas-powered car in terms of acceleration, all-wheel-drive, and fuel-economy.

Table of Contents

Selected Cars

  • 2018-2020 Tesla Model 3 Long Range
    • 271 HP
    • 307 lb-ft (4.4s to 60)
    • City: 120 / Highway: 112
  • 2018-2020 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus
    • 201 HP
    • 258 lb-ft (5.3s to 60)
    • City: 140 / Highway: 124
  • 2019 BMW 330i xDrive
    • 248 to 255 hp
    • 258 to 295 lb-ft (5.2s to 60)
    • Comb. MPG: 28.0
  • 2019 Audi A4 Quattro
    • 248 HP
    • 273 lb-ft (5.6s to 60)
    • Comb. MPG: 27.0

The BMW 330i xDrive is in no way inferior to the TM3 Standard Range Plus with its 5.2s to 60mph (5.2s to 96.56km), while the Long Range AWD clearly exceeds these times.

Dane County Regional Airport to O'Hare International Airport

Starting Address: 4000 International Ln, Madison, WI 53704
Destination Address: 10000 W O'Hare Ave, Chicago, IL 60666

I used the Fuel Economy Trip Calculator from (fueleconomy.gov) to figure out how much it costs to commute this trip.

For Tesla, I used A Better Routeplanner to determine how much it would cost to Supercharge for this trip. I used a 2% initial charge so that we could determine actual cost because if I used a 90-100% initial charge you wouldn't need to stop and would come up with $0 in charging expenses.

Later in this article, I will see how much this same trip would cost if you left with a charge from MG&E as well.

  • 2018-2020 Tesla Model 3 Long Range
    • 1% to 62%
    • Trip Cost: $5.03
  • 2018-2020 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus
    • 1% to 83%
    • Trip Cost: $6.51
  • 2019 BMW 330i xDrive
    • Trip Cost: $14.26
  • 2019 Audi A4 Quattro
    • Trip Cost: $14.79

In this example, fast charging of the Model 3s seems to me quite fair in terms of price. Due to the differences between Long Range and Standard Range Plus, we also see a price difference in Tesla Supercharging. The Model 3 SRP requires a longer charging time, as it generally receives slower charging speeds compared to the Long Range editions of the Model 3.

Now, what if we had the same charge from the starting address? I had a charge session with my 2019 Tesla Model 3 Long Range where I charged from 1% to 63%, close enough!

This session added 44.7 kWh to the battery.

vs MGE Electric Rates

MGE Summer Rates

Distribution service : All kWh, per kWh: $0.03378 x 44.7 = $1.509966
Electricity service : All kWh, per kWh: $0.10472 x 44.7 = $4.680984
Total: $6.19

MGE Summer Rates

Distribution service : All kWh, per kWh: $0.03378 x 44.7 = $1.509966
Electricity service : All kWh, per kWh: $0.09355 x 44.7 = $4.181685
Total: $5.69

If you can use the time-of-use billing with MG&E, you'll save even more on charging your Tesla or electric vehicle. You'd have to charge in the hours from 6pm to 9pm Monday to Friday. You'd see additional savings of about a dollar per session, as in this example from MSN > Chicago.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS)

Now, let's take a look at a more costly scenario, LA > Las Vegas.

Starting Address: 1 World Way, Los Angeles, CA 90045
Destination Address: 5757 Wayne Newton Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89119

  • 2018-2020 Tesla Model 3 Long Range
    • 1% to 72% (#1) (24-min charge)
    • 10% to 68% (#2) (19-min charge)
    • Trip Cost: $25.73
  • 2018-2020 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus
    • 1% to 68% (#1) (20-min charge)
    • 10% to 61% (#2) (14-min charge)
    • 10 % to 65% (#3) (16-min charge)
    • Trip Cost: $23.42
  • 2019 BMW 330i xDrive
    • Trip Cost: $29.77
  • 2019 Audi A4 Quattro
    • Trip Cost: $30.88

In this situation, it was actually cheaper for the Standard Range Plus to make the three charging stops, but spent seven minutes more time charging plus the extra time to get to the fast chargers than for the Long Range. It is also worth noting that the Standard Range Plus model does not reach the full 250 kW speed of the V3 Tesla Superchargers, while the Long Range can reach these speeds.

Round Trip

In the case of a return trip, the Standard Range Plus would save a total of $21.54, or the Long Range $18.54, compared to the 330i xDrive, but spend 72-100 minutes charging, respectively.

On gasoline, it's very linear for a road trip, but for the Model 3 it does not look like that. Elevation? Different return route?

It costs less than twice as much as a return trip with both models:

  • 2018-2020 Tesla Model 3 Long Range
    • $41 (SAVE $18.54-20.74)
  • 2018-2020 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus
    • $38 (SAVE $21.54-23.74)
  • 2019 BMW 330i xDrive $59.54
  • 2019 Audi A4 Quattro $61.74

LA Home Charging

Back to charging at home: Households in the Los Angeles area paid an average of 18.6 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity in May 2019.

Suppose you charge your Model 3 Long Range from 5% > 100%, which would cost about $11.16 at 2019 prices, for the Standard Range Plus from 5% > 100%, around $8.835.

If you were able to charge to 100% before leaving LA, assuming you would use a Tesla Supercharger in Las Vegas return home:

2018-2020 Tesla Model 3 Long Range: $11.16 + $22 = $33.16 Total
2018-2020 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus: $8.835 + $25 = $33.835 Total

Final Thoughts

On my road trip on Highway CA-1, I rented a Tesla Model X with unlimited free Tesla Supercharging. I saved hundreds of dollars easily on this trip when I visited many beautiful places around San Francisco, Monterey Beachfront-Marina and Big Sur. This is something to take into account when testing a Tesla during a road trip or a trip in general.

Alternatively, there are a number of free places to charge at shopping centers and grocery stores across the United States like Volta and municipal charging infrastructure.

I Google'd, “4.4s to 60 car” and found that the 2015 Porsche Cayman GTS would have the same 0-60 time as the Tesla Model 3 Long Range, but that's a very different kind of car.

It still seems cheaper to charge an electric car than a comparable gas car.

Special Thanks

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By Graydon Schwartz

Find out more about Graydon on the About Me page.