Tesla Model 3 Total Cost of Ownership after 3 years
I ordered and took delivery of a Tesla Model 3 in March of 2019 (back in the good ol’ days when order and delivery could actually take place within the same month). It has now been exactly 3 years since the maiden drive home, and with both gas prices and interest in EVs at all time highs, I thought it would be a fitting time to share my total cost of ownership so far.
You want to know how I know interest in EV is at an all time high? Even my 1.5 year old post about my EV daily driving experience has gotten 300+ views in the past 3 months. Do you know how hard someone has to search to find and read my post!
Before we get into it, I want to preface this by saying that while it is true that one of the benefits of an EV is the gas savings over a conventional ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle, these gas savings alone typically don’t even come close to justifying the higher purchase price of an EV vs a much cheaper gasoline powered compact car.
Remember: the way to convince your spouse/SO to buy an EV is not with the gas savings, it’s with the “do you want to poison our children with gasoline fumes?”
Moving on before this turns into the 3 page family ancestry origin story of an online food blog recipe…
First things first — purchase price
Pricing for the Model 3 was a bit different back then, so this part may not be super relevant to any prospective buyers reading this, but it might be interesting to see how things have changed too.
In March 2019, the MSRP of my car — a long range rear wheel drive Tesla Model 3 (which has since been discontinued)— was $58400 CAD before any additional upgrades, options, fees, taxes, or incentives.
At that time, the standard paint colour was “solid black”, which I didn’t like, so I paid an additional $2600 for “pearl white multi coat”. A couple months after I ordered, Tesla changed the standard (ie. free) paint colour to the same pearl white multi coat 🥲 (you’re welcome).
Then there were the following fees:
- Delivery and inspection fee: $1300
- Federal air conditioning tax(???): $100
All of this brought the pre-tax subtotal to $62400. Unfortunately, this fell within the BC luxury vehicle price range (prior to the February 2022 change to bump up the threshold for EVs to $75k), so I was charged 15% tax, which brought the total to $71760. At the time, the $5k Canada federal EV rebate was not introduced yet, but luckily I was able to qualify for the $5k (at the time) BC provincial EV rebate before they reduced it to $3k later in the year.
My final purchase price after all taxes, fees, and incentives was $66760.
I’ll break this part down into a few different sections, with a summary table at the end.
Note: all costs below are in CAD and include all sales tax.
In 3 years, my dad and I drove the Model 3 (he drives it to work when I am not home) a total of 69801km. Yea, that’s a lot. This used a total of 9585kWh according to the car’s trip computer. The vast majority of charging was (and still is) done at home using a level 2 charger at either $0.0945/kWh or $0.1417/kWh, using the BC Hydro tiered rates based on total usage. To simplify my calculations, I used the average of the two, even though realistically most of the time it’s probably at the lower tier.
I’ve also spent a total of $186.57 in supercharging fees, although I did receive around 6000km worth of free supercharging from referrals (thanks friends).
Total charging costs over 3 years: $1131.83
Maintenance and repairs
This may or may not be common knowledge, but EVs don’t require regular scheduled maintenance because…there’s nothing to maintain. The only moving parts are the motors, and those have been tested and rated for over 1m miles.
However, I did suffer a tire puncture last year, and needed to spend $90 to fix it. This is actually a lot higher than a typical tire repair, and apparently it’s due to the layer of noise isolating foam inside the tire, which makes it more complicated to repair. I’m not sure how how legit that is, and maybe it would’ve been fine to just do a regular $30 tire repair, but it wasn’t a big deal for me.
I also refilled my windshield washer fluid a few times and didn’t record the cost, but a quick online search seems to indicate that a normal bottle of windshield washer fluid costs around $6.
Total maintenance and repair costs over 3 years: $96
I decided to purchase a set of winter tires (Michelin X-Ice 3 if anyone is interested), which cost $1109. It was the option that had the biggest sale at the time, and are supposedly pretty good quality too.
I had to pay for the winter/summer tire swap 6 times so far, and the total cost is $46.50 x 6 = $279. This actually adds up to more than I thought, but I guess there isn’t much I can do about it.
Total tire related costs over 3 years: $1388
What an interesting category for car related costs :)
I bought my car before Autopilot was included (ie. priced in) as standard, so I purchased it afterwards for $3024. It is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.
Luckily, I also bought my car early enough that Tesla grandfathered the free premium connectivity for life, so I don’t have any ongoing monthly fees — which actually makes me feel very relieved because for some reason I find a monthly fee for a car very weird (even though that’s probably the path that we’re all headed down anyways).
Total software cost over 3 years: $3024
This one likely varies quite a bit from person to person, as it’s dependent on your coverage amounts and driver risk score, and potentially discounts when bundled with other types of insurance etc. But for what it’s worth, my insurance costs over 3 years is $7051.
Total insurance costs over 3 years: $7051
Total cost of ownership
Right then, let’s get straight to the point.
After 3 years, the total cost of ownership for my car is $79450.83.
To summarize each category (in descending value):
- $66760 initial purchase
- $7051 insurance
- $3024 software (autopilot)
- $1388 tires
- $1131.83 charging
- $96 repairs and maintenance
If I were to quickly analyze these costs:
- The car itself is very expensive, there’s no two ways about it (but it was planned and calculated and budgeted for, so it’s not like it was a surprise).
- Insurance is also quite expensive, but there’s not much that can be done about that in BC, so I can’t really feel bad about that.
- Autopilot is the next most expensive thing, and it’s definitely not a necessity by any means, but it’s a core part of the Tesla experience and I would 10/10 get it again (for prospective Tesla buyers, it is now priced in).
- The most impressive part is how low the true operating costs (charging and maintenance) are: $1200 to drive nearly 70000km is just insane.
but we’re not done yet…
Ah, gas savings. The topic that every EV driver likes to brag about. I’ll get to the bragging in just a bit, but I need to reiterate yet again — unless you drive 200km a day, don’t go out of your financial comfort zone to buy an EV right now just for some gas savings. It will eventually pay off in the (very) long run, but claiming gas savings as the primary reason for taking out an otherwise unnecessary loan to upgrade from a Corolla to a Tesla is just lying to yourself.
Okay on to the bragging.
The gas savings will vary based on the fuel efficiency of the gas powered car that you are comparing to, and also the grade of the gasoline, so I’ll provide a couple of different examples. For all these examples, I used real monthly average gas prices in Vancouver, based on data from StatsCan. Here is the summary if you are curious.
So using my actual distance driven per year and the actual average gas price per year (there is some margin of error due to monthly variances, but it should be close enough), here are the savings in the following scenarios:
- vs 2019 Honda Civic with 6.92L/100km fuel efficiency and regular fuel: $5879.49
- vs 2019 Toyota RAV4 with 8.1L/100km fuel efficiency and regular fuel: $7075.06
- vs 2019 BMW 3 series with 10.2L/100km fuel efficiency (from my girlfriend’s car) and premium fuel: $10491.16
Just for fun, here’s a screenshot from the app which shows the charge stats for the past 31 days.