EV economics compared to ICE

EV economics compared to ICE

A very favorable article within Seeking Alpha today relative to the economics of EV vs. ICE cars. The author compares various Tesla S versions to various "like" ICE cars currently available. Bottom line is that he shows how it's possible for the different S versions to compare very favorably under conservative conditions, and most interestingly makes the case that the best value of all is the Model S Performance version when compared to comparative ICE cars.
Music to my ears as I anxiously await my MSP!

Volker.Berlin | 27 juillet 2012
GoTeslaChicago | 28 juillet 2012

Yes, if you switch from a gas guzzling muscle car and drive a lot of miles the economics of the Model S performance are extremely favorable. They have a big touch screen in the stores now with an app with sliders where you input the cost of gasoline, miles driven and mpg of your current car and quickly see how many thousand dollars you can save on gasoline per year. Multiply by 10 years, and it's hard not to buy a Model S.

However if you are like me and have a Prius, and don't drive that many miles, then the switch can't be justified only by by the gasoline dollars saved. However, helping the environment, and being an early supporter of the coming electric revolution is more than enough for me, not the mention the incredible ride.

jerry3 | 28 juillet 2012


There is no question that the Model S will be more expensive than my Prius. But the advantages I see are:

- No expensive gas engine to maintain.

- No Toyota dealer (the worst part of the Prius experience).

- Not having to go to a filling station.

- Fewer parts to go wrong.

- Lower noise level.

Now I like almost everything about my 2004 Prius:

- The aerodynamic styling is far better looking than the old-man 19th century styling of the Model S.

- The efficiency (12 cents per mile for dealer maintenance, tires, and fuel combined)

- The room inside (dumping the three box horse-and-buggy design opens up the interior space wonderfully).

- The trouble-free 135,000+ miles I've driven it so far. The 2001 that Denise drives has been just as good.

- My 2004 Prius has more power than anyone needs. The 2001 has about the right amount of power. The Model S is stupidly over-powered.

But to get the advantages of the Model S (the Model S with an 85 kWh battery is the only practical electric car) I'm willing to overlook the things I don't like and pay a premium.

BYT | 28 juillet 2012

A Prius has enough power?? I say a little prayer before I try to get on a California Highway on ramp when in my fathers 2009 Prius!! I think the Model S has crazy power and speed and is the polar opposite of the Prius in that regard!

jerry3 | 28 juillet 2012

I've just never had a problem--even in the 2001. And I assure you that the drivers in Texas are just as crazy as those in California.

jerry3 | 28 juillet 2012

About acceleration: There are a few things that fool people:

1. When reviewers get 0-60 times, they rev the engine and pop the clutch (or the automatic equivalent). The Prius won't let you do this kind of juvenilia, but no one (who has to pay the bills) drives like that anyway so a few seconds to the acceleration times have to be added or subtracted depending upon which way you're doing the math.

2. Because there is no shifting in the Prius, you don't get that gear change jerk, which some people equate with engine power.

3. Because the engine RPM is not tightly coupled to vehicle speed as it is in an old fashioned car, some people use the sound of the engine RPM to tell when to back off on the accelerator. If you do this in a Prius acceleration will slow down. The Prius won't let the engine over-revv so backing off just slows acceleration. Note that many folks do this unconsciously because it's the way you accelerate in other cars.

4. The Prius actually accelerates at highway speeds, unlike many non-sports cars.

BYT | 28 juillet 2012

I dunno, things maybe bigger in Texas but I feel maybe faster in California... ;)

jerry3 | 28 juillet 2012

Sorry about the lack of editing. That was supposed to be one post :-)

Tiebreaker | 28 juillet 2012

The article rightfylly compares apples to apples. If somebody likes the Prius so much, then most likely they are not in th market for an M5 BMW. Yet Model S appeals to both ends.

I liked the not-so-subtle stab at John Petersen!

Tiebreaker | 28 juillet 2012

p.s. Prius better looking than Model S??? Are we in the twilight zone?


But... "De gustibus..." a matter of taste and personal preference...

Mark E | 28 juillet 2012

Jerry3: you live on a different planet to me.

I can't stand the look of the Prius. It is way too slow and has terrible driving dynamics. To do better than a 10 second 0-60 in my current car I could start with the engine off & handbrake on! Its pretty easy to do 0-60 in 6 without dropping the clutch. Acceleration at highway speeds will easily outdo the Prius also. The downside is the fuel consumption - although modern diesels perform as well or better on open roads than Hybrids.

You need to drive a proper car to make those comparisons.

I would never even consider a model s if it looked or performed anything remotely like a Prius. I'm excited about the car because it seems to be an EV for car people. Personally I'd prefer it to be smaller and have 2 doors. I drove the Roadster and loved it but couldn't live with it as it was too impractical. (and $220,000 here in Australia).

stevenmaifert | 28 juillet 2012

From the article "There are a couple of aspects I won't consider:

Maintenance - EVs may require dramatically less than ICE vehicles, but operating experience so far makes this hard to quantify. I'll just leave it out"

Seems like a petty important data point to just ignore. EV's may be minimal maintenance, but if Model S is anything like the Roadster, that minimal could cost us up to $600/yr... much more than what I currently pay for my ICE.

Brian H | 28 juillet 2012

Obviously you'll trade in your MS for the GenIII Sport when it comes out in 2016. Until then ...


jerry3 | 29 juillet 2012

Mark E, -- although modern diesels perform as well or better on open roads than Hybrids.

Been there done that. Sorry, just didn't happen. The TDI that I had was the most disappointing car ever. The Prius totally blows it away at highway speeds (or would if I still had it). And remember that in North America diesel fuel costs 10% to 20% more than the regular gasoline that the Prius uses so you have to reduce the diesel car's mpg by that amount to get true comparison.

In addition, the Prius hasn't stranded me like the TDI did (three times it had to be towed because of battery failure--you can't jump a shorted out battery). I actually had to do five battery replacements, one every year, but on two occasions I was parked on a hill so I could do a running start.

And sorry, I think that the Prius looks like a car that belongs in the 21st century rather than dragged out from the 19th. Could it be improved--sure, but making it look like some old geezer's car (like a Jag) isn't the way to do it. I do realize there are people with different opinions, and that's fine. The Model S has enough good point to make me overlook the old fashioned styling.

Tiebreaker | 29 juillet 2012

Yep, twilight zone.

Prius uses a 19th century invention by a notable German inventor Nikolaus August Otto.

Anyway, the Prius is a very significant link in the evolution of the car.

Brian H | 29 juillet 2012

Prius and styling; strange words to find in the same sentence! Can't say I've ever heard of or imagined anyone admiring the Prius' appearance. Functional. Low CdA. Boring. 21st Century? Maybe yours ...

jkirkebo | 29 juillet 2012

I also think the Prius is a very good looker. Certainly better looking than for example a BMW X6, Volt or Fisker Karma in my book. But the Model S is even better ;)

cerjor | 29 juillet 2012

Back in 1958 I bought a VW bug. Talk about things that were called ugly. Since it got 40 mpg I thought it was beautiful. Now the beetle is a classic.

David70 | 29 juillet 2012


Unless I'm sadly mistaken, the Prius uses the Atkinson cycle, not the Otto cycle. As I recall most non-diesel ICEs use the Otto cycle.

Brian H | 30 juillet 2012

If you don't want to pay the maintenance, just decline the warrantee, and say you'll pay for repairs if and as needed. The odds are very much in your favour that they will be minimal.

KevinJ | 30 juillet 2012

I recall reading, about the time that TM partnered with BoA, a summary of a study that concluded that the total-cost-of-ownership of a Roadster was a bit better than that of a Prius. Neither I nor TM friends can find that study. Can anyone point me to that study, or a good summary thereof? thanks, krj

Mark E | 30 juillet 2012

Brian H: quite possibly! Especially if it performs like a roadster with a 800km range!

@Jerry3: sorry to hear of your bad experience with diesel - my brother and others with them have had fantastic experiences. As for the Prius being 21st century, I jus don see it. It's bland to the point of ugly IMO. I'm glad that you like yours though. The Prius looks like a mini-van to me. Built for people only concerned with a to b transport and not interested in driving. It's generally everything I hate about manstream modern vehicles. Too high, narrow, bland, front wheel drive with crappy acceleration and pathetic dynamics.

Economics don't replace passion. I'm not a reservation holder based on economics. I like it because it represents the next evolution of automotive technology and performance. It also means that I can enjoy the vehicle without thinking about wars for oil, or paying money to people of dubious character.

I'm an unashamed car nut & have always driven performance vehicles. The model s will be my first four door and will replace my Porsche daily driver.

Timo | 30 juillet 2012

@KevinJ, that can't be right. TCO with of Roadster with initial price difference in ballpark of $90k you can't beat Prius. Roadster probably costs quite a bit less than Prius after initial cost, but with that factored in it's no contest for Prius. Something similar-priced, but worse mpg car driven in Europe you get competition.

Basic 40kWh Model S probably is cheaper than Prius for TCO.

Tiebreaker | 30 juillet 2012

David70, you are correct. Butl just an Otto modification, and still 19th century.

jerry3 | 30 juillet 2012


You are correct. The Prius' ICE does use the Atkinson cycle engine, which partially eliminates pumping losses at part throttle.

jerry3 | 30 juillet 2012


I can't point to the study, but my 2004 Prius (in service Oct 2003) has cost:

$6,114.24 for gas, $9.821.35 for tires and dealer maintenance over 136,210 miles.

This comes out to 11.7 cents per mile.

Insurance is mainly dependent up on the driver so I don't include that. (I pay just under $500/6 months for the two Prius I own).

The initial cost was just under $30,000 including tax and delivery. So if I threw the Prius away today it would cost 22.0 cents per mile for the car itself.

That totals 33.7 cents per mile.

jerry3 | 30 juillet 2012

Mark E,

- my brother and others with them have had fantastic experiences

Some co-workers also bought TDIs and mine was apparently the best of the lot. My co-workers got rid of them while they were still underwater because they couldn't afford the maintenance or the down time. I'll never buy one again and will recommend to others that they avoid them like the plague.

- I like it [Model S] because it represents the next evolution of automotive technology

Me too. EV is the future. I just don't like the old fashioned styling that looks like almost every car made from 1900 to 2000. I think the modern styling of the Prius where form follows function is much better. I do respect your opinion.

iridium | 30 juillet 2012


I also put together a spreadsheet to compare the two:

stevenmaifert | 30 juillet 2012

@Brian H - Agree, but I wasn't complaining about the potential cost of Model S maintenance. I was just trying to point out that if you are going to compare EV economics to ICE, the cost of maintenance has to be factored in for a valid comparison. If it's not yet known, then it's too soon to make the comparison.