Tesla says an M3 saves money vs ICEr; true?

Tesla says an M3 saves money vs ICEr; true?

This won't be a long post. Part of Tesla's sales strategy is to claim that an M3 is cheaper to operate than an ICEr. In fact, when you configure a new Tesla you can select between a purchase price and a price discounted to reflect savings over a period of time. But is there real savings?


I just turned 14,000 miles on my October 2018 M3 LR DM. I used 3700 kWh to get there. My previous car, a Mazda6, got about 30 mpg. If gasoline has averaged about $2.40 per gallon this past year (in my area, which is southern Indiana and not California -- the savings I'm about to show would be quite a bit better there), then in my Mazda that would have been 467 gallons of gas, or $1,120. Just for fuel.

My electric rates are .1038 per kWh. So 3700 times .1038 is $384. Just for fuel.

That's $736 saved, to be used for something other than fuel. Advantage: Tesla Model 3.

Life is good but it's better in a (cost-saving) Tesla.

walnotr | 02. desember 2019

Don’t forget to factor in the lack of maintenance cost compared to an ICE.

Stinnett | 02. desember 2019

Definitely. I've had no maintenance so far other than one tire rotation, which was free (but I tipped the mechanics). In my initial post I was just pointing out the fuel savings. Everyone drives and previously spent money on gasoline; now it's money spent on electricity so as a normative value it applies to all equally, adjusting for gasoline prices and electricity costs. It's an easy calculation and I thought it might bring a nod of contentment from the readers.

Life is good but it's better in a Tesla.

Sarah R | 02. desember 2019

I live in Southern California. With my electric rate, gasoline would need to be priced at $1.65/ gallon to compete with any EV. And that doesn't address the maintenance costs associated with internal combustion.

Nakid | 02. desember 2019

And if you have solar at home, it makes it even more affordable.

raqball | 02. desember 2019

I guestimate 1/3rd the cost of owning an ICE when you factor in gas and maintenance...

My son just got an oil change on his F-350 and it was $300... He also spends about $100 a week in gas. He pre-ordered the Tesla Truck and can't wait to get it.. Heck the savings alone will almost make what the Tesla Truck payment will be...

GHammer | 02. desember 2019

My daughter uses my 3 for her 100 mile/day commute, we figure she's saved about $3500 in gas over using her economy 32MPG ICE car. Saved about $500 in oil changes also.

RES IPSA | 02. desember 2019

The fuel savings are great living here in San Diego. But I also save on my overall home electricity costs since I have a special time of use rate (9 cents per kW/hr). I have had to change some habits, but I am using twice as much electricity each month yet my bill is $20-$40 cheaper per month. Deduct the $150 or so a month I was spending on gasoline, I save about $170-$190 month after month. Plus, SDGE gave me a $850 bill credit which has been paying for all of my electricity since August.

RES IPSA | 02. desember 2019

@Raqball... I have never owned a truck. I never knew an oil change was $300. I have a 2010 Prius as a backup car. I get an oil change for $22 with tax and oil disposal fees.

Tuning In | 02. desember 2019

It has been proven that Prius will have a lower total cost of ownership. If your decision is based on minimizing your car costs, then that is a better choice (cost of car, tires, insurance, etc).

The Model 3 is a fantastic car but the whole savings thing never really pencils out and that doesn’t matter.

CST | 02. desember 2019

Can someone tell me what an ICEr is?

David N | 02. desember 2019

Internal Combustion Engine

David N | 02. desember 2019

Internal Combustion Engine

-TheJohn- | 02. desember 2019

For those still watching/reading at this point I'd like to inform you that the individual named as fishev in this thread is a super long term infestation troll who has been banned at least once for spreading utterly false and defamatory things about Tesla and for being a liar.

Please Flag and ignore any and every single thing they post. Don't respond if you can avoid it.

In this particular case they are straight up making up numbers for electricity costs and for running/maintenance of cars. To whit.. Their numbers are straight out BS.

brscpo | 03. desember 2019

It is harder to justify on just fuel/energy cost when you came from a Prius that is getting 60 MPG - yes I know they are rated at 55, but I was consistently getting 60 mpg - but the M3 offers so much more. Glad I made the change.

Stinnett | 03. desember 2019

Most people 'round here say "ICE" but I call a gas car an "ICEr" just because it sounds descriptive. An ICEr is a car which uses an internal combustion engine. I know, a distinction without a difference but there you have it.

My cost of electricity at .1038 is without time-of-use. My REMC offers time-of-use with an off-peak rate of .0868. To qualify, you have to use 12,000 kWh per year, or more, and I barely make that cutoff so I haven't gone to TOU. If I ever do, night-charging the M3 (which is indeed when I do it), would save a fair amount more. On-peak is a hefty .16475 so I just go with the stable .1038.

If any of you have read my comments on other threads, you may recall I live in a small town in a rural area where I have the only Tesla M3. I've tried to convince people of the advantages but they "just don't know if I could do that." I recently showed some of my colleagues these numbers and they began to see that perhaps they "could do it" after all. Progress, in small increments.

Life is good but it's better in a Tesla.

Tuning In | 03. desember 2019

The Model 3 mostly took auto sales from Prius’, Camrys and BMW’s. It will cost the Camry and Prius owners more to own the Model 3 and that delta probably won’t be recouped in maintenance and fuel cost savings for many years, if ever. But for the BMW owner who already spent a lot on tires, insurance, maintenance, repairs and fuel, it will save money. I suppose it depends on what the buyer came from.

Tuning In | 03. desember 2019

I was on TOU years ago with our first EV, before we got solar and went back to tiered rates. It wasn’t so bad because “off peak” started at 5pm and “super off peak” started at 9pm and peak wasn’t so expensive. It was a reasonable hassle to wait to do chores later.

Off peak charging is cheap but at the cost of a really high peak rate. Today, off peak and super off peak is way later. Now you’re paying a lot more for electricity to power appliances, a/c, lights, TV and other things that you used to pay a lot less to run. So while one can say that charging the car is really cheap because it is done at super off peak rates, that doesn’t account for the increased costs to power the house.

TranzNDance | 03. desember 2019

Adding a V instead of an r could be less confusing: ICEV. However, would people think it's a special type of EV?

SteveofMO | 03. desember 2019

FISHEV - what are you using as the eqivalent ICE? Apples to apples would be cost of purchase.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi | 03. desember 2019

Don't bother talking To TrollEV, whatever he says is not true.

andy.connor.e | 03. desember 2019

Depends. You're not going to save money buying a $40k car if you're driving a used corolla. But the fuel cost is lower, and you dont have regular oil changes as well as all the other mechanical system and fluid maintenances. The more miles you drive the more you benefit from lower fuel cost and lack of needing to get an oil change every 5k miles or so.

jimglas | 03. desember 2019

my maintenance on my 2 teslas over 1.5 years = 1 set of wiper blades (free from the SC)

PteRoy | 03. desember 2019

Switching from a Acura MDX to a model 3 has me swimming in cash. Obviously very different vehicles.

Acura $1000 a month lease payment
Tesla $700 ownership

Acura gas $80 per week
Tesla $80-100 for the whole month

Acura $120 for oil plus every other year $440 service gouging to not void my lease.
Tesla $0?

The only thing that the Acura could win on is tires. They lasted me forever. Saw a thread here where people were getting very low miles on their tires in comparison to my Acura. But I’m not there yet, so to be determined.

So far switching was a no brainer financially. Overall a pleasure to drive 99% of the time. Travelling in Canada can be difficult with the lack of charging network. But that’s like a once or twice a year thing for me. If you stick to heavily populated areas you’re usually fine.

Idahorefugee | 03. desember 2019

Here in Massachusetts, electricity is 22.4 cents/kWh (I pay 24.5 cents for all wind power). It's still cheaper to fuel a M3 than an efficient ICE, but not by all that much. OTOH, it makes installing solar a no brainer (our panels are expected to be installed in January).

andy.connor.e | 03. desember 2019


Great that you've got solar coming. You'll really start to feel the savings when you are not doing constant oil changes.

Tuning In | 03. desember 2019

Solar is a great investment (get high quality panels!). Consider getting a Powerwall. We’re using the same money to pay down our loan instead of paying the utility for electricity. At year 10 when our system is paid off, our electricity is free and is being generated by the sun.

It’s great when someone brings up the whole EV’s are powered by coal and I tell them mine is 100% sun powered so STFU.

stockbandit91 | 03. desember 2019

I probably have the biggest savings around due to unique factors at 42k miles in 18 months vs. the 2010 Honda CRV I was driving.

Electric vs Gas $600 vs. $4846 ($3/gallon in CA & 26mpg) TOU charging w/ solar panels, plan no longer available from SCE due to how favorable it is to those with solar panels and high electric use at night, but I'm grandfathered in.
No oil changes $320 (8 oil changes at $40 with synthetic done myself)
Free Tolls for electric cars $3780 (toll up to $9 one way, could be up to $23 one way for some people)

Total savings $8346 is 18 months. Easy to say I'm never going back to gas, even if the toll benefit goes away.

andy.connor.e | 03. desember 2019

Not every kWh of electrical energy is going to be produced using renewables right now. The difference is that EVs are many times more efficient, and replacing an ICEV with an EV could be looked at similarly to someone reducing their household demand from utilities by using solar. The argument is invalid.

75kWh battery in the Model 3 uses the same amount of energy as less than 3 gallons of gasoline.

lbowroom | 03. desember 2019

You have to compare to a vehicle that’s similar in performance. If my TESLA was as slow as a base Subaru, I wouldn’t have bought it. Perhaps an STI.

-TheJohn- | 03. desember 2019

For those still watching/reading at this point I'd like to inform you that the individual named as fishev in this thread is a super long term infestation troll who has been banned at least once for spreading utterly false and defamatory things about Tesla and for being a liar.

Please Flag and ignore any and every single thing they post. Don't respond if you can avoid it.

kevin_rf | 03. desember 2019

I would be careful throwing around numbers like 75kwh is equivalent to less than 3 gallons of gas.

While gas/oil contains the energy equivalent of 33kwh, thanks to those pesky laws of thermodynamics it will only produce 30%-40% when converted to electricity.. Add in another 10% loss getting the energy into the battery and you have to burn roughly 6.25 gallons of oil to produce the 82.5 kwh needed to charge that battery.

Btw. For a 25 mpg car, 6.25 gallons will take it 156 miles. So a Model 3 would be twice as efficient and have half the green house emission if charged with electricity derived from oil. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to extrapolate the results of a 50 mpg Prius.

*If natural gas is used, and for the most part it actually is in the US, the CO2 emissions to charge a Model 3 are 1/2 needed charging with coal, and 2/3 charging with oil. Charging with solar doesn't happen, because we all have jobs ;-)

andy.connor.e | 03. desember 2019


Thats precisely my point. You have gained a tiny bit of efficiency by using an EV charging from fossil fuel produced electricity, but at least you've set up your society to even have the ability to switch off. You dont even have the ability to improve if you cant change the fuel the car is using. Individuals can install solar, and Tesla will put up solar panels to power their superchargers. Thats a good start. Nothing happens overnight, but to try and make the argument that ICEV and EV are not any different as far as greenhouse gas emissions is NOT looking any further in time than the right now. Also displays a persons inability to see into the future.

M3Tesla | 03. desember 2019

I charged my M3 at work so in your case I would have saved $1120. In CA gas prices are around $4 and I used to have a Lexus RX350 (MPG is 20) so I would have saved $2800...Nice.

lbowroom | 03. desember 2019

"really lousing mpg car " that still doesn't deliver the performance of the model 3

You keep comparing a performance car to eco-cruisers. Why not compare it to a 10 speed bicycle, your numbers will be even better

andy.connor.e | 03. desember 2019

How many people spend $40k+ exclusively to cut emissions?

Tuning In | 03. desember 2019

*slowly raises hand* would spending that much on solar panels and power walls be considered a yes?

andy.connor.e | 03. desember 2019


I mean that in the sense that the reason you are installing the solar panels and power walls is exclusively to reduce your carbon footprint, and the personal benefits of having solar are not a factor of your decision.

bjrosen | 03. desember 2019

What Tesla does on their website is dishonest, first they show you the price with an arbitrary cost savings subtracted out, it's not until you click to the next page that they show the real price. Fuel cost savings are dependent on where you live and what car you are comparing it against. Where I live in MA with high electricity rates and medium gas prices the Model 3 is comparable to a Prius, maybe even a fraction of a cent more expensive. In CA with $4 gasoline and off peak electricity the Model 3 is cheaper than a Prius. If they took your zipcode into account when they presented the savings it would be more honest, and if you could plug in the MPG of your alternative vehicle choices then it would be completely honest.

hokiegir1 | 03. desember 2019

@bjrosen - If you click "Estimate payment" at the bottom, it does allow you to make some adjustments -- such as the cost of gas and number of miles driven per year. You can also choose to not include incentives in the price with the click of a button.

andy.connor.e | 03. desember 2019


Theres nothing dishonest about it at all. They actually tell you in detail how they are calculating the savings. If you dont like that they do it that way thats one thing, but its not dishonest.

Big_Ed | 03. desember 2019

The way I see it, I'm paying more up front for purchase compared to other cars I looked at, and paying less for fuel and maintenance, so TCO is roughly even over time.

I'm not helping the planet much, since my electrons come mostly from coal, but that's not a big factor in my decision anyways.

I bought the M3 because the car is cool. Cool to drive, cool looking, cool tech. Was at big family holiday gathering last weekend and everyone got excited when they heard I bought a Tesla. The buzz is rising among people like me who don't give a crap about carbon footprint. M3 sales are going to keep rising.

804son | 03. desember 2019

There's a toggle right at the top of the Order page that shows either "Purchase Price" or "Include Potential Savings". I would call that pretty good disclosure in my book.

804son | 03. desember 2019

I admittedly did not buy the Model 3 for the sole purpose of reducing my carbon foot print, I bought it because it's Wicked fast, fun, different from the standard ICE cars, and Most technologically advanced vehicle out there. The savings on gas and maintenance was just a BONUS in my book. There are also plenty more gear heads like me out there who once they find out how fun this car is are going to start seriously considering one. Tesla has built a vehicle that can appeal to not only those people who want to be green, but also for those of us who didn't know we wanted to be green.

FISHEV | 03. desember 2019

“slowly raises hand* would spending that much on solar panels and power walls be considered a yes?”

A heck yes wildly waving hand in the air.

I’ve spent $100k on solar house and EV car to cut emissions over the last four years. Now if they can get the price of the PHEV/PV boats down a bit, I can spend more money cutting emissions. Spent $15k upgrading the engine to three stars on emissions, a reduction of 45% reduction of old two star outboard.

And it’s Tesla’s stated Mission.

“Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.“

geedub1023 | 03. desember 2019

I still have an ICE vehicle (SUV) as well as my M3. Just today, I looked at my 2018 and 2019 (11 months this year) purchase summaries for the credit card I use for almost all my expenses. Specifically, I wanted to see the comparison and reduction in gasoline expenses before and after I got my M3. I bought my M3 this past February and so far I've cut my gasoline purchases in half comparing 2018 vs 2019. Just a small data point but I wanted to share it with you guys/gals. Anyone else tracking this?

Stinnett | 03. desember 2019

804son, haywood.ed:
Yes, agree completely. Being a greenie was furthest from my mind when I got my M3. I just wanted a TESLA. All else is gravy on the mashed potatoes. Or icing on the cake. But not ICEr-ing. Or even ICEv-ing.

I like ICEv also. It's my southern Indiana dialect which makes me say ICEr.

Agreed, nobody in his right mind would pay $40k+ to buy a car exclusively to save the planet. Well, maybe if you're filthy rich and want to put in a penny's worth of planet-saving. I paid $61,500 plus sales tax for my M3. Never did I consider how much I was contributing to reducing my carbon footprint. Maybe some would say "Well, you should have!" but that kind of activism just isn't my cup of tea. The planet will spin on regardless of what I do. I don't get all heated up about things like that. I just wanted a cool car which had pizzazz. And I got one.

Life is good but it's better in a Tesla.

FISHEV | 03. desember 2019

“Maybe some would say "Well, you should have!" but that kind of activism just isn't my cup of tea. “

Nope. We’d say “Sweet. Another smoker off the road who cares how it got done”. Lets say you got caught by a speed trap the tree huggers put out. You never saw it coming.

Stinnett | 03. desember 2019

If I'm in the company of tree-huggers, I'm standing out like a sore thumb and it's only because it's a flash mob I got caught up in.

As for being a smoker, I've never smoked a day in my life. Well, except for that one time when I was 11 but my Mom caught me and that was the end of that.

Life is good but it's better in a (smoke-free) Tesla.

FISHEV | 03. desember 2019

"As for being a smoker"

It's capitalized.

rehutton777 | 03. desember 2019

I guess I fall into the camp of "reduction in carbon footprint" being a significant reason I purchased my Model 3. I also wanted to support innovative technology being advanced by Tesla. Of course, much lower fuel cost and virtually zero maintenance (at least for first several years) factored into my decision. I am in SoCal where gas is nearly $4 per gallon. I am on a TOU electricity plan with SoCal Edison and pay $0.12 per kWh to charge the battery. I previously drove a Toyota Camry hybid that got about 38 miles/gallon. My electricity consumption has been approximately 250 wh/mi which equates to $1.14 in electricity purchase to drive that comparable 38 miles. I consider that a major savings over driving my prior ICE car.

Additionally, the purchase price of my vehicle was approximately $41,000 (SR+, metallic gray with partial premium interior with 19" sport wheels - - no AP when I purchased). I received $5800 in rebates and tax credits which I would not have received with an ICE purchase, making my total purchase price approximately $35,800. A new Camry hybrid with comparable features would have cost virtually the same. My car gets better and better with each software update, something a new ICE would not have done. Considering purchase price and operating cost (reduced fuel and maintenance) I am WAY ahead financially with my Model 3, and that wasn't even the main reason I bought the car. I am SMILING all that way!