Providing a total cost of ownership spreadsheet (Tesla vs. ICE) to the community here

Providing a total cost of ownership spreadsheet (Tesla vs. ICE) to the community here

Hi all -

There is a lot of debate over whether the Tesla is "worth it" from a financial standpoint, or "can I afford it" compared to a traditional car.

A lot of vague assumptions are thrown around, and I thought it would be helpful to give us all a common way of evaluating this for ourselves.

I attach here a spreadsheet I've created with several parameters that you can change to your assumptions / as apply to you, and see for yourself how a choice between the Tesla and an ICE compares. Hope this can be anywhere as useful as the pre-delivery checklist that someone created kindly for users here.

I hope this helps to inject some logical calculations into discussions.

You will need to download the sheet to be able to adjust the assumptions to your liking. I am also open to updating the spreadsheet with new parameters if they seem logical and useful to incorporate / are not overly complicated or nitpicky.

Enjoy. | September 6, 2013


Thanks for pulling this together. It might be helpful to pair this with a TCO calculator from a site like Edmunds.


jhu | September 6, 2013

Thanks, pretty helpful!

SamO | September 6, 2013


You chose the highest sales tax rate. Higher than most of California.

Then you left out the $2500 state tax rebate in CA.

Some states are exempt from sales tax on EVs. (OR, NJ etc)

You chose a VERY low # of miles. Average miles/year is 13,476 (16,550 if you are male).

What about the 30K, 60K, 100,000 scheduled maintenance.

What about emission testing every 1-2 years?


You vastly understate the actual cost of owning an ICE vehicle?

SamO | September 6, 2013

Oh yea . . . and you left out that you can get the best car ever made for $70,000.

SamO | September 6, 2013

P.S. I've driven 2600 miles in my first 17 days of ownership.

30 mpg sounds great in theory but get over 55 mph and your mpg drops.

Drive 75 on highway/freeway and your mpg drops precipitously.

I'm sure gas prices will never go up.

Here are the historical 10 year prices of gas. Under historic low inflation.

2003 - $1.96/gallon
2013 - $3.85/gallon
2023 - $7.56/gallon

Don't forget to subtract all road trip costs for fuel while Supercharging.

SamO | September 6, 2013
mdemetri | September 6, 2013


This spreadsheet makes many false/incorrect assumptions and most importantly is comparing apples with oranges. Comparing a Model S to a $45,000 30mpg ICE is like comparing a Van Gogh to a painting by a 5 year old (ok, that comparison may be a little over the top). The only fair comparison is to a car with similar size, performance and safety; such cars get ~15mpg in real life driving.

I have done the math and after 6 months with my P85 I can say without question that over 10 years my P85 is going to have cost me only ~$53,000. That is no where near the cost stated in the spreadsheet. There is no ICE with a total 10 year cost of $53,000 that comes anywhere near the quality of the P85.

One of the biggest and unexpected savings I have found is that we simply almost never drive our ICE anymore. Before our MS, my wife and I each drove ~10K miles in our respective ICE's. Thus, my original analysis assumed only a 50% reduction in gas requirement. However, after 6 months of MS ownership the real number is more like 80% (and climbing). As my kWh are from solar (and yes i have accounted for paying off the solar system and charging station installation) we went from spending ~$450 in fuel costs per month to ~$75 per month. Over 10 years that is a ~$45,000 savings (and this assumes that gas prices do not climb further). This coupled with the $10,000 in rebates/credits ($7,500 Federal, $2,500 California), this comes to a ~$55,000 real life savings. I paid $108,000 (including all taxes etc) for my P85 (2012 pricing) and therefore over 10 years, the P85 will have cost me $53,000.

This is the deal of the century.

SamO | September 7, 2013


I agree that you need to actually do it in real life rather than look only on paper.

I've already got a trip planned that I usually fly (LA - SF) with taxis and BART costs me $600/ for two.

Driven 2600 miles.
1800 charged at Superchargers
500 charged for free at work
300 charged at home for $0.11/kWh with T.O.U.

100 gallons of gas

$3.75/gallon = $375

Electricity paid $10

soma | September 7, 2013

The sheet was created with initial values so that you can download and change them.

Why are you being an idiot and telling me that I chose the wrong tax rate for California, but also didn't use the tax rate for New Jersey?

Take the sheet and insert values that you find acceptable.

Come back, tell us the values you used, and the total cost that you got.

sergiyz | September 7, 2013

If you compare to the real competitors, e.g. BMW M5 with P85 or P85+, the difference is negligible or even in favor of ICE, since in this particular case service is included for the first 4 years and the car itself is cheaper.
I'd add time savings option for HOV lane stickers though.
That to me is priceless.
Passing lambos, porsches and aston martins every day at rush hour.
They are standing still with 500+hp under the hood, completely miserable.

Grant910 | September 7, 2013

I love my model S.

However, at least in NJ, an honest cost for electricity is at least 18 cents per kWh. Believe me, I have looked for anything cheaper, and you just can't get it here. And and honest mileage for this car, with normal (moderately aggressive use of accelerator) driving, vampire charge, and cold weather, is at least 330 Wh/mile. Probably more like 350. I have averaged 360 over my first 6000 miles.

It's still cheaper to use the model S in the long run, and it is totally awesome, but I think the spread between the two is narrower around here.

Grant910 | September 7, 2013

I plugged in those numbers, with the NJ sales tax break too. It certainly does appear that owning a model S isn't a big savings at all, and that it costs more than a 45,000 ICE car. That's fine with me. I wasn't planning on buying a 48,000 ICE car.

However, if you buy a more expensive luxury car like an Audi A7 (which is probably the best car to compare in terms of size/shape/performance/luxury), comparable with the model S, you save 20 grand. If you charge at work, the model S is even cheaper to own. If you buy a 60 kWh model S like me, you save 28 grand.

So I propose doing the comparison with identical car sticker prices.

SamO | September 7, 2013


You call me an idiot because YOU can't accurately evaluate how much a car costs to run.

Look at TCO through Edmunds

Garbage in, Garbage Out.

SamO | September 7, 2013

Example: 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class - True Cost to Own
Acquisition price $46,479

5 Years Ownership Costs

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 5 Yr Total

Fuel $2,491 $2,565 $2,642 $2,722 $2,803 $13,223
Maintenance $348 $1,311 $853 $2,303 $3,743 $8,558
Repairs $0 $0 $0 $1,046 $1,609 $2,655

Notice how you underestimate costs of fuel, maintenance and repair?

In this case, owning a Mercedes (as just one example) for five years costs $24,436.
Even just doubling costs, the Mercedes costs $48,872 over 10 years.

So why are you calling people idiot when two minutes of research would tell you that your starting values aren't reasonable. And no I'm not updating your ridiculous chart when there are real tools online that give a much more accurate estimate based on something other than pulling numbers out of your a$$

mrspaghetti | September 7, 2013

I guess no good deed goes unpunished. OP made a spreadsheet trying to be helpful, but getting flamed because it's not flawless.

SamO | September 7, 2013

No OP is getting flamed because he has been saying on this and other threads that anyone who thinks a $40K car and a Tesla have a long term equivalent cost of ownerships is an idiot.

carolinagobo | September 7, 2013

Why people compaire a car of at least 70K but for the most part tesla buyers invest 80 to 90k with a cars half of the price?? I don't get it, is like compairing a hause of 1 Million with a 400k townhouse and talking about cost. It doesn't have any finantial sense.

carolinagobo | September 7, 2013

I just compare the total cost value of my Scion with Tesla S P85+ and the conclusion is that Tesla is more expensive.
Mr CPA. ;)

SamO | September 7, 2013


If you take a Model S (whatever you pay) and look at how much it costs to run over a period of time.

5 years, 10 years.

You notice that an ICE car costs MUCH more. How much more is up for debate. But what isn't up for debate is how much an ICE car costs.

There isn't yet much historical data on the Tesla in terms of ongoing costs and nothing available on Edmunds.

Mireille and Conan | September 7, 2013

Just used this calculator. (Have been following this discussion on various threads & was curious.) The main concern I have with this spreadsheet is that it seems to hold the cost of fuel constant over the calculation period (left the 10 year default). Nevertheless, it showed our Tesla ownership saving us more than $23,000. Of course, who knows if this is even close to reality, but it's a nice number to see! :)

Grant910 | September 7, 2013

I agree that OP made a nice spreadsheet and should not be attacked. Of course, calling someone an idiot does invite attacks.

Whatever the case, it is clear to me from the spreadsheet that the cost of operation, for identical sticker prices, favors the Tesla.

Kaboom | September 7, 2013

Soma, good job putting this together for our perusal.

One thing i want to point out to people here is that they think we should be comparing the MS to other equivalent luxury sedans of similar size, stature and panache. But i think we ALL AGREE here, there is NO comparison between those anymore.

The MS blows them out of the water in terms of price, green efffect, performance, comfort, time, appeal, future depreciation, etc etc etc etc etc.

In fact, i doubt those 7 series bmw and mercedes E class, S class and other equivalents make ANY sense to anyone anymore. Unless people like to throw their hard earned money away on inferior products. I see some FIRE sales coming soon.

So i agree with soma, the comparison we have to make is to the $40-45k range luxury sedans since their pricepoint becomes more in line with TCO of MS.....depending on number of years you least its a closer comparison. | September 7, 2013

@SamoSam Jeez, lighten up a bit and try and be a bit constructive.

This is a spreadsheet intended to be used by you to make decisions. The initial values are irrelevent because they couldn't possibly apply to you.

Soma took a good start at making something. Instead of your silly rants, you could have made suggestions on where there may have been weaknesses and made suggestions for improving it.

I'm really disturbed by the attitude of some people and the way people get flamed. There are some people who have been here a while that are acting like these are their forums.

Excited about doing test drive and probably placing order next week.

Getting very disappointed about the tendency for people to rant and flame people.

If you don't have something constructive, maybe people should just shut up.

SamO | September 7, 2013


As I explained above, Soma has been throwing terms like "deluded and idiot" on this and other threads. Perhaps you always turn the other cheek 8-)

I think all of the facts from Edmunds and other sources bear out that Tesla is equivalent in cost very quickly to a huge range of cars, trucks and SUVs.

I started a thread with some samples: | September 7, 2013


Everyone keeps talking about Edmunds TCO. So I looked at my current vehicle which I've had for 3 years at Edmunds.

There numbers make no sense to me.

Insurance costs for first 3 years shown as $11,000, actual $3000.
Maintenance costs for first 3 years shown as $4,500, actual $600.

It just emphasizes the fact that we need to deal with our own situations and the facts of our own lives.

AmpedRealtor | September 7, 2013

@ soma,

Thank you for taking the time to put together this spreadsheet and post it for others here to use. As with all spreadsheets, change the values to apply to your particular situation. We have 50 states, each with different gasoline prices and some with additional tax credits. No single spreadsheet can take into account everyone's location, tastes and preferences. Some would prefer to compare their Model S to a Volt, others to a Mercedes S Class. So again, use the values that make sense to you.

I don't think the OP was trying to make any kind of statement with the initial values that were selected. Can we lighten up a little bit in here?

RedShift | September 7, 2013

@AR "I paid $108,000 (including all taxes etc) for my P85 (2012 pricing) and therefore over 10 years, the P85 will have cost me $53,000."

I said as much to you before you had bought the car! If I remember correctly, you had disagreed with me then. Glad to see you come around. :-)

AmpedRealtor | September 7, 2013

By the way... sat in a Volt yesterday. YUCK! What a piece.

AmpedRealtor | September 7, 2013

@ RedShift - mdemetri said that, not me :)

jhu | September 7, 2013

The Volt is a joke! Way to make a car that has to be accepted by the public as something new as unsexy as possible. At that rate, why not drive a Prius.

agiangone | September 7, 2013

Another use of a spreadsheet like this is to see "how much" ICE car one could afford.

In my case it comes out to about $60,000 not quite a Camry but surely not enough for an A7.

Tiebreaker | September 7, 2013

Soooo... even with this flawed spreadsheet,a MS 60 in NJ costs exactly the same as the hypothetical $45K car. I just did a few adjustments:

Tesla MS 60
Price = $71,070
Miles driven = 15,000 (more realistic)
Tax = 0%
Cost of charge point = $500 (consensus on NEMA 14-50)

MPG = 26 (more realistic)

total MS 60 = $74,595 Hypo ICE = $75,810

soma | September 7, 2013

Thanks for using it as intended -- to put in your own reasonable assumptions and comparing for yourself.

New Jersey is definitely a special state that can make it break even, for a 60 kwh. | September 7, 2013

Someone likes the Volts, they moved almost 3,400 last month (15K YTD). The Volt does not seem that bad and kudos to GM for making it look like a normal car instead of the i3 type weirdness.

I guess, at the end of the day, I am glad to see any plug-ins successful--helps the cause


Brian H | September 8, 2013

Only its accountants know for sure, but rumor has it that GM is taking a $20-40K bath with every Volt sale. Its market valuation will eventually reflect the real cost, if so.

Volleyguy | September 8, 2013

I really think the spreadsheet needs to be based on a much longer period than 10 years. The average car on the road is well over 11 now. The reason to trade your 11 year old Tesla is??? You want a better electric vehicle? Can you imagine walking in with your Tesla saying I now want to spend money again on payments for a new car and for gas??? I think this car will fit into many families second car even with reduced battery range...

Basically Tesla's costs are all capital and depreciation. Once done is Tesla not the cheapest car to own???

Volleyguy | September 8, 2013

Is not 20,000 miles per year more realistic?
Our BMW 2005 325Ci does not get close to 30 mpg. It is also a LOT slower than the Tesla so what vehicle gets 30mpg average for the year and anywhere near Tesla performance?
Fuel prices in Canada $5.61 a gallon for premium. I wish we paid $3.75!

tes-s | September 8, 2013

Great spreadsheet! I added a bunch of other things, like annual personal property tax, insurance, tires.

My Prius is a lot less expensive.

But I rarely drive that now - I much prefer my MS!

Volleyguy | September 8, 2013

In that spreadsheet I am using 20 mpg over a more reasonable 15 years at what I know is more reasonable (for us) 20,000 miles per year at 5.61 per gallon. (what we pay)

So $84,150 for 15 years of gas assuming gas does not go up in the next 15 years which is pretty silly since oil has risen 15% per year compounded now for 10 years and is now 55x more money $ than 1972.

Oil might not rise at the current rate but no increase is pretty silly over 15 years as well.

In Norway driving the same amount of miles as us and for 15 years that would be $168,300 for gas...

Repairs are very unknown but if they come out less that is bonus money!

Now how does a Tesla look?

Sanjuro88 | September 8, 2013

You know the Tesla motors has their own calculator.

I said it before and I will say it again; the model S is a luxury car, and it's silly to justify the cost solely based on the fuel savings and the maintenance cost.

I love my Model S for other reasons; no emissions, no ICE noise, the safest car ever built, smooth power, cool factor etc.

If you are counting pennies, just drive a Prius. I drove it for several years. It is a fantastic car to go from point A to point B... Just not as fun as Model S.

soma | September 8, 2013

That online calculator doesn't include purchase price, which Tesla probably doesn't want you making the calculation on... Hence you need a real TCO (which by definition includes purchase price) in the equation.

Europe is one of the places where the Tesla finances actually can work really well.

If others have edits, suggestions for the calculation lines they would like to see added, describe here (or in the google docs comments button) and I will do my best to add them.

Volleyguy | September 8, 2013

In the U.S. it is pennies for fuel at 12,000 miles per year. ($15,000 in the spreadsheet!)(chump change!)

In Norway at $168,000 over 15 years I am not sure I call that pennies.

For our equation over 15 years the car is close to free. (a base MS 60)($84k in fuel)

In Norway who cares about how much the car costs?! What's 10 or 20 grand here or there in purchase price... It's all about the gas. Depends where you live with electric cars.

Volleyguy | September 8, 2013

I bet in time you can track this world price of gas and find where Tesla is going to be pretty popular!

Hmmmmm... When you get to $10 a gallon, gas is a big deal. In Norway they are at 3% of the car market for electric already? Can you imagine filling up your vehicle for $300?

earlyretirement | September 8, 2013


Thanks so much for taking the time to post an EDITABLE spreadsheet where people can plug in their own numbers. It's hard to believe people are criticizing you for taking the time to do this.

I think if people want to plug in various scenarios, do it and then post an update with your numbers but to criticize a guy for taking the time to post this isn't sound, IMHO.

RanjitC | September 8, 2013

Do they have electricity in Eritrea. I'm originally from India and know that power supply there is unpredictable making it very risky to own an EV there.

Volleyguy | September 8, 2013


For sure I am not being critical or do not mean too. It is just interesting to see the VAST differences from different parts of the world on cost of ownership.

Sorry about that I only meant in the U.S. to say the car is more than gas which it may be but in many countries the car flies on gas savings alone. Therefore not just being a very nice car that one has to justify but a car one has to justify "not" buying.

I only mean when one buys a Model S to "save money" and the side benefits are all talked about here on the forum that is a VERY different car. Hence no doubt the reason by Tesla to penetrate Norway. Living in Norway one would have to think long and hard why I am "not" buying a Tesla?

I do understand that the stock market of course has caught on to this and only wish I had bought stock long ago and a friend and I talked about this many times.

Volleyguy | September 8, 2013


Sorry for my excitement I only find it unbelievable that one can buy (in some parts of the world) a $100k car to "save" money! That's awesome!

mdemetri | September 8, 2013

The problem with this post and the spreadsheet is that many people who know very little about the true costs of the Model S will be mis-informed when they open the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet needs to be changed so it is not so misleading to newbies.

First, either the Model S should be a base 60kwh model (ie ~70K) if comparing to a 45K ICE or the ICE should be changed to better reflect the size, performance and safety of the 85kwh Model S (eg BMW 5 or 7 series, Mercedes E/S class, Audi A7, Porsche Panamera etc.).

Second, the $500 annual service costs for the MS should be removed. Yearly service is not required for the warranty and many will not do this (it is an option, but not required). This is in contrast to ICE cars, where regular service is required to maintain the warranty.

Third, as SamoSam has pointed out, the numbers from Edmunds for servicing ICE should be used (which includes the regular maintenance required to maintain the warranty of the ICE).

Fourth, the cost of a charging station should be reduced to $400 from $2000, the cost of a simple/average NEMA 14-50 installation. The HPWC is not required and in my experience completely unnecessary.

Fifth, the gasoline price should better reflect the expected average cost over 10 years, which is going to be much higher than $3.75 a gallon (see SamoSams post on this above).

Sixth, a line for state Tax rebate should be included. As most MS sales are in CA, then the $2500 state rebate should be added.

If these changes are made to the spreadsheet, than I think it would become a very valuable tool and not mis-lead newbies.

mdemetri | September 8, 2013

One more change: the mpg should be reduced to at least 25mpg for the ICE to better reflect real world numbers.

Volleyguy | September 8, 2013

I thought 20 mpg for anything near Tesla performance. I wish we averaged 25 with the 2.5 liter motor in the BMW and it is nowhere near as fast.