How much time does it take to recoup the costs of the Tesla versus a petrol car?

Say goodbye to the petrol pump: A look at fuel savings and the rough cost of owning an electric car.

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The Tesla Model S 90D is a luxury car first and an electric car second, the entry level price tag of almost $170,000 is no small investment. As with all electric or hybrid vehicles on the market, compared to petrol run cars (e.g. a 2015 BMW X6 50i. costs around $151,600), there’s a greater upfront cost so you can save on running costs (at the petrol pump for example) over time.

How quickly can you make the extra money you on a Tesla back

Looking just at the fuel consumption, it's will take more than 15 years before the fuel savings from the Tesla make up for the almost $20,000 more you'd fork out to purchase the vehicle over the X6

Cost of recharging a Tesla vs a full tank for a BMW

According to the car company, the Tesla Model S can be charged from empty for about $20 worth of electricity. This figure varies depending on the model and whether you’re charging the vehicle during on or off peak usage times. The range of the vehicle also varies depending on a number of factors such as acceleration and temperature for example, expect to get anywhere between 400 - 550 kms from a full battery, for the sake of this example, we’ll assume $20 for a full charge gets you 500 kms.

The average price of unleaded petrol in Sydney at the time of writing is 105 cents a litre. The BMW X6 has a 85L fuel tank, say that it can travel about 850 kms on a full tank which costs $89.

Tesla Model S 90DBMW X6 50i
Cost of electricity / fuel (full-charge / tank)$20$89
Maximum distance500 kms850 kms
Cost after 16,000 kms$640$1673

In the example above, and the government’s own calculations as published in the Green Vehicle Guide, there’s a saving of more than $1,000 every year in fuel costs by using an electric vehicle such as the Tesla.

The verdict

Looking just at the fuel consumption, it’s will take more than 15 years before the fuel savings from the Tesla make up for the almost $20,000 more you’d fork out to purchase the vehicle over the X6. But this isn’t the full picture.

The S 90D has fewer moving parts and doesn’t need maintenance on things like the oil, spark plugs or filters, and the brakes will last for years longer thanks to a unique feature called regenerative braking. As with all cars, the windscreen wipers and tires will need to be regularly maintained. Tesla advise the car is serviced once a year.

The battery is guaranteed for 8 years and the vehicle has a 4 year or 80,000 km warranty, whichever comes first — A service can cost between $500 - $1000 depending on the age of the vehicle, Tesla sell service plans for a discount.

Tesla versus BMW: The full picture

Tesla Model S 90DBMW X6 50i
Annual cost for fuel$865*$2151*
Release date20162015
TransmissionElectric - 4WDAutomatic - AWD
Electricity / Petrol Consumption206 Wh/Km*9.7L/100km*
Range557 kms850 - 900 kms
PriceFrom: $169,660From: $151,600
Warranty8 years: battery and drive unit4 years: limited3 years: unlimited
Top speed250 km ph240 km ph
0 - 100 km ph4.4 seconds4.8 seconds

*Green Vehicle Guide: 2016.

Did you know?

Regenerative braking actually captures the power the car uses to slow the vehicle saving it in a battery to be used again. The Tesla’s speed predominantly reduced using the engine.

Suggested Tesla Model S maintenance

The Tesla Model S owners manual suggests the following:

  • Every 2 years: Replace the brake fluid.
  • Every 4 years: Replace the battery coolant.
  • Every 10,000 kms: Rotate the tires
  • Every 40,000 kms: Replace air filter

The above example is a conservative estimate, an ABS survey found that in 2010 the average household spends more than $50 on their vehicle including fuel and lubricant, an increase of $10 from 2004. Fuel is only going to get more expensive in the future, electric and hybrid cars will become an increasingly viable option as the trend of rising fuel prices continues.

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