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Considering an Electric Vehicle?


If this is your first time considering an electric vehicle (EV), there sure seems like a lot of things to learn. The truth is there is a bit of a learning curve, but the good news is you have a great community to help you get up to speed.

How much daily range do you need? All current Teslas have 267+ miles and while the EPA rating is not perfect, its actually pretty reasonable guide. For most folks, 267 miles is plenty of range to commute to work, take the kids to school and run errands. The thing to remember is that if you plug your car in every night you start of the next day with a “full tank”.

Do you have a place to charge? You will need a place to charge. If you are a homeowner, this tends to not be an issue. However, if you rent or live in a condo, you should do your homework and check with your landlord or condo association about getting a charger installed. For more info about charging at home, check out this post.

How is an EV Different than my Current Car?

As noted earlier, there is a bit of a learning curve, but in short time it will be second nature. So, what’s different?

  • The car drives a bit differently – you’ll be introduced to the wonders of regeneration and one-pedal driving.
  • "Fueling" is different – you’ll do most of your charging at home and how/where you charge will change.
  • Road trips may require a bit more planning, at least until you get comfortable with your car’s range and finding chargers. Thanks to the Tesla trip planner, all you have to do is enter a location, and Tesla will figure out all of the Superchargers you'll need to stop at along your route, and inform you how long you should charge there for.

What About Other Costs?

As you try and figure out if an EV fits in your budget, there are a couple of other costs you should work into your calculations.

Fuel

Fuel (electricity) is likely your biggest cost. Visit the website for you electric utility and find what programs they have for EV owners. Typically, the programs are designed to incentivize you to charge your car during off-peak hours and can significantly lower your cost to charge your car. To get an idea of fuel costs, use this formula:

rate X 0.350 X miles X 1.1

  • rate = the rate per killowatt-hour your utility charges you
  • 0.350 represents you driving efficiency — 350 Wh/mi (Watts per mile), is a good conservative number for modeling costs. Efficient drivers are closer to 300W per mile and lead-footed drivers are closer to 400W per mile
  • miles = typical miles you drive per month
  • 1.1 represents 10% losses from the charging equipment

My utility charges me $0.06/kWh to charge during off-peak hours and I drive about 2,200 miles per month, my monthly fuel costs are:

$0.06 X 0.350 X 2,200 X 1.1 = $50.82

Your actual cost will vary based on your driving efficiency, but this calculation should give you a good idea what your fuel costs will be. To put cost into perspective, I am driving 2,200 miles for less the the cost of a tank of gas for either of our two prior cars.

Maintenance

A Tesla has a couple of dozen moving parts compared to the hundreds of moving parts in the typical internal combustion car. As a result, the maintenance is a lot simpler–no oil changes, new brake pads, etc. Maintenance costs basically come down to the annual service (which are found under Support on the Tesla website) and tires. Annual maintenance is not required to maintain warranty coverage, but is recommended.

Tires

For owners new to performance cars, the cost of tires can be a bit of a shock, even for owners on non-performance models. The reason comes down to three factors:

  1. The larger the wheel, the more expensive the tire.
  2. Performance tires (aka “summer tires”) use softer rubber that wears more quickly.
  3. The suspension set-up on the car can exacerbate wear.

As Elon has said, “Tesla does not make slow cars”, and the cars are engineered to go fast and look fast. However, there some things you can do to lower tire costs:

  1. Go with smaller wheel sizes. Smaller tires cost less. As an added benefit you will see improved ride comfort, greater resistance to pothole damage and improved range.
  2. Pick all-season tires with higher UTQG tread-wear numbers. The rubber compound is harder, so wears more slowly. It also reduces rolling resistance so also helps increase range.
  3. Be religious about keeping tires at proper inflation and rotate them regularly. The standard suspension setup give you great handling but does cause tires to wear unevenly. Rotating them every 5K-6K miles evens out the wear. Keeping tire at proper pressure also help tire wear and (you guessed it) improve range.

Please note, picking tires is all about trade-offs. There is no perfect tire, you end up balancing cost, traction/handling, noise and ride comfort amongst other things.

Battery Pack

The battery pack itself is covered with a 8 year warranty and currently, no owners are outside of that window. There are a number of cars that are well over the 100,000 mile mark and Plug-In America has been running a longitudinal survey and the long-term data is promising. Personally, I am over 100,000 miles on my 2013 P86 and have ~6% battery degradation.

Insurance

The best advice is to shop around a bit. Reports from the owner community indicate that there is a wide variance on insurance costs.


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