The cost to charge Tesla electric vehicles varies based on the type of charger used, the model of the car, the size of the battery, and the cost of electricity in your area. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the national average cost of residential electricity use is 16.09 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), as of October 2022. Using that number, rounded to an even 16 cents, on average, Tesla electric cars cost between $11.04 and $18.40 to charge from zero to 100%.
Vehicle emissions are one of the leading causes of air pollution according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and electric vehicles are meant to combat that problem. But many people still question whether an electric vehicle is really that much better than a traditional internal combustion engine car. Aside from reducing pollutants in the air, is it really cheaper to own electric cars than gas-powered vehicles?
Today we’ll dive into the cost to charge a Tesla, factoring in variables such as battery capacity, model type, and range of the electric vehicle. In addition, we’ll look at some of the additional costs of electric vehicles and the pros and cons of electric cars versus gas vehicles.
How to calculate the cost to charge a Tesla
When figuring out the actual cost to charge a Tesla, you need to know the electricity prices in your area, the size of the electric vehicle battery, and the type of charging stations used. For the purposes of this article, we’ll mainly concentrate on the charging costs associated with using a Level 2 home or office charging station, allowing for about 85% charging efficiency.
For reference, if you’re using a Tesla Supercharger, which is a Level 3 charging station, you can assume close to 100% charging efficiency and a rate of around 25 cents per kilowatt hour, give or take.
To calculate the charging costs of Tesla electric vehicles, you’ll multiply the rate per kWh by the battery size. Next, you’ll multiply that number by 15% (to account for an 85% charging efficiency). Add the two numbers together to come up with roughly the cost to charge a Tesla at home with level 2 charging speed.
Here’s a simple example to determine the charging cost of an electric vehicle:
How much does it cost to charge different Tesla models?
Because different Tesla models come with different battery sizes and capacities, you’ll need to know your model type to figure out how much it costs to charge a particular model.
|Model 3 Standard||267 miles||$11.04||$0.041|
|Model 3 Long Range||334 miles||$15.09||$0.042|
|Model 3 Performance||315 miles||$15.09||$0.047|
|Model Y Long Range||318 miles||$13.80||$0.043|
|Model Y Performance||303 miles||$13.80||$0.045|
|Model X||351 miles||$18.40||$0.052|
|Model X Plaid||335 miles||$18.40||$0.055|
|Model S||405 miles||$18.40||$0.045|
|Model S Plaid||335 miles||$18.40||$0.046|
Tesla model 3 comes in three options and includes the least expensive of the Tesla electric vehicle choices. The base model uses a 60 kWh battery, while the Performance Model and Long Range Model both have a battery capacity of 82 kWh.
Using our above formula, Tesla Model 3 will cost $11.04 for a full charge. It’s important to note that the range of the electric vehicle also has an impact on the cost per mile of the vehicle. Breaking it down, the Model 3 has a range of approximately 267 miles, which means it costs about $0.041 per mile.
The Long Range model has a range of about 358 miles and will set you back around $15.09 for a full charge, which comes to approximately $0.042 per mile. The Tesla Performance Model 3 also has a total cost of $15.09, but because it has a shorter range of 315 miles, the cost per mile is $0.047 per mile.
The Model Y comes in two versions, both of which come with 75 kWh battery capacities: Long Range and Performance. However, the Long Range model has a range of 318 miles and the Performance model range is about 303 miles.
Either Tesla Model Y will cost you about $13.80 for a full charge. This means the cost per mile is around 4.3 cents for the Long Range model and 4.5 cents for the Performance version.
The Tesla Model X has two options: the standard Model X and the Model X Plaid. Both of these Tesla models have 100 kWh batteries, so the cost of charging either Tesla Model X is $18.40.
The driving range of the base Model X is about 351 miles and the Model X Plaid ranges around 335 miles, so your cost per mile for the standard Tesla Model X is $0.052 per mile. Charging a Tesla Model X Plaid is slightly more expensive, with a cost per mile of $0.055.
Tesla Model S electric vehicles, like the Model X versions, also have 100 kWh batteries and have the longest driving ranges of any Tesla car. The base Model S has a range of 405 miles and the Model S Plaid can go about 396 miles before needing a charge.
To fully charge the base Model S or the Model S Plaid will cost you an average of $18.40 for either one. The cost per mile of the Model S is about $0.045 and the Model S Plaid is similar at $0.046 per mile.
Pros and cons of electric vehicles
Before you buy any new vehicle, it’s important to be aware of its advantages and disadvantages so you know what you’re getting into. For example, the savings on maintenance alone is a very important issue.
Whereas traditional vehicles require fluid changes, belts, hoses, spark plugs, etc., these costs simply don’t exist in the realm of EV repairs. Especially considering supply chain issues and the volatility of gas prices and car repair prices, this point should not be overlooked or understated,” stresses Richard Reina, the Product Training Director at CariD.com, with more than 30 years in the automotive industry.
Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.
- Better for the environment
- Less expensive to maintain
- Saves time by charging at home
- Competitive in power and performance with popular gas-powered cars
- Generally more expensive than comparable gas vehicles (although you may get a tax credit for buying an EV)
- EV charging networks aren’t as prevalent as gas stations
- Battery capacities don’t allow for long-range driving as compared to gas-powered vehicles
- Car insurance is more expensive
While car insurance is typically more expensive for electric vehicles, not having insurance is far worse. Some policies even offer discounts for hybrid vehicles or those who use alternative fuel, such as those below.
Pros and cons of internal combustion engine cars
Despite the obvious benefits of owning electric vehicles, they may not be for everyone — at least not until charging networks are as ubiquitous as gas stations. For example, an electric vehicle might not be the best choice for someone who lives in an apartment and can’t charge their vehicle from home.
Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.
- Lower upfront cost than electric vehicles
- Gas stations are pretty much everywhere
- Larger variety of both new and used vehicle options
- Bad for the environment
- High fuel costs
- Higher maintenance costs
Charging stations explained
When you drive a gas car, you know that gas prices vary a lot depending on where you live and the type of fuel you use. Either way, the process is the same and only takes a few minutes.
It’s a completely different ball game when it comes to electric vehicles. There are three levels of charging systems you can use to charge your Tesla electric vehicle, so it’s good to be aware of how each one works. This is because charging a Tesla, or any electric vehicle, can take some time and you’ll need to plan for it.
Level 1 charging
This is the slowest charging method and involves the use of a mobile connector, which you can plug into any standard three-prong 120-volt outlet. This method will give you around two to three miles of range per hour charged, according to Tesla.
At that rate, it will take days to fully charge an electric vehicle, but this isn’t a bad option if you don’t drive very far. It’s also a good idea if you have a hybrid car because they have a much smaller battery size.
Level 2 charging
For level 2 charging, you can purchase a 240-volt wall connector, which is usually the best and fastest option for home or office use. This type of charging station will give you up to 44 miles of driving range per hour and is sufficient even for those who drive quite a bit.
Level 2 charging also includes Tesla destination charging stations which you might find at hotels, restaurants, parking garages, resorts, or other places that have public chargers.
Level 3 charging
This is the fastest level of charging for your Tesla car, and Tesla Superchargers can give you up to 200 miles of range in about 15 minutes. There are more than 40,000 of these in Tesla’s Supercharger network, which are usually located on major roadways near other conveniences and amenities.
You can also charge Tesla vehicles at other public charging networks, which you can find locate at Plugshare.com. You may need to carry a mobile connector or adapter to charge from some of these stations, so keep one in your trunk just in case.
Is a home solar power system cheaper than regular charging methods?
While it’s cheaper to charge a Tesla with a home solar power system, installing solar panels can be very expensive. Not only is the upfront cost of installing solar panels pricey, but if you don’t get enough sun, the solar panels also won’t be as efficient as they can be in other areas.
Having said that, using renewable energy solar panels to charge a Tesla could cost between $0.06 and $0.08 per kilowatt hour, which is significant savings over traditional electricity costs. Before you go ahead and order solar panels for your house, though, talk to a solar-power professional to see if they’re suitable for your home.
When can we expect the sale prices of electric vehicles to come down?
While it’s impossible to predict when electric vehicle prices will come closer to regular cars, it will happen, explains Reina.
“Each year, more manufacturers are adding EV models to the market. Automotive brands like Subaru, Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan and VW have one or more EVs for sale at this point. This increases accessibility to EVs and will eventually allow for much more competitive pricing.”
How long does a Tesla battery last?
The battery on a Tesla is the most expensive component of the vehicle. However, Elon Musk has said the batteries will last between 300,000 and 500,000 miles, or up to 35 years.
The warranties that come with the batteries are a little more conservative but still fairly generous. Tesla batteries are warrantied for eight years or between 100,000 and 150,000 miles, depending on the model.
|Model||Warranty (years)||Warranty (miles)|
|Model 3 Standard||8 years||100,000 miles|
|Model 3 Long Range||8 years||120,000 miles|
|Model 3 Performance||8 years||120,000 miles|
|Model Y Long Range||8 years||120,000 miles|
|Model Y Performance||8 years||120,000 miles|
|Model S||8 years||150,000 miles|
|Model X||8 years||150,000 miles|
How much is a Tesla battery replacement?
To date, most battery repairs or replacements on Tesla electric vehicles have fallen within the warranty period, so there is no charge to Tesla owners. This makes it difficult to determine how much you would have to pay out of pocket for a new battery.
Musk has said the cost is between $5,000 to $7,000, but it’s unclear if that includes labor. Others say the estimated range for a new battery (including installation) could be between $10,000 to $20,000 or more depending on the model. You might also be able to get a remanufactured battery for less.
Why is car insurance more expensive for electric vehicles?
In general, car insurance is more expensive for an electric vehicle because they’re more expensive to purchase and their parts are typically more expensive to repair or replace. Teslas also have some pretty expensive technology features that are costly to repair.
However, because electric vehicles don’t break down very often, save money on fuel costs, and have very few maintenance expenses, the extra you pay in car insurance may be offset by the other benefits of Tesla vehicles.
- Charging a Tesla costs roughly between $11.04 and $18.40 if you use Level 2 charging, which has 85% charging efficiency.
- The cost of charging a Tesla varies based on electricity prices in your area, the Tesla model you buy, and the size of its battery.
- Tesla Model X and Tesla Model S have the largest batteries at 100 kWh, making them the most expensive Tesla vehicles to charge.
- An electric vehicle is generally more expensive than a combustion engine car, but you may be able to get tax credits from state or federal governments. You’ll also save significant money on fuel costs and maintenance of the vehicle.
View Article Sources
- Federal Tax Credits for New All-Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles — U.S. Department of Energy
- Credits for New Clean Vehicles Purchased in 2023 or After — IRS
- Plug-in Electric Vehicle Charging — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Charging Your Tesla — Tesla
- Are Teslas Worth It? Here are Our Findings — SuperMoney
- Tesla Phone Model Pi: Release Date, Price, & Specs — SuperMoney
- How Much to Lease a Tesla? Compare All Models — SuperMoney
- 8 Hidden Costs Of Owning An Electric Car — SuperMoney
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