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Being a financial writer for GOBankingRates, the topic of frugality and future planning often occupies my attention. Nevertheless, I have a secret passion – I am an avid fan of automobiles, particularly European luxury and high-performance cars such as Aston Martin, Porsche, McLaren, and others.
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Luxury performance cars come with expenses that go beyond the initial cost – expenses like tires, oil changes, insurance, and upkeep, which make them impractical for everyday use. After extensive research, I opted for the Tesla Model Y as my daily ride. Some of my fellow car enthusiast acquaintances criticized my decision, likening it to preparing food in a microwave instead of a Viking Professional oven. Regardless, I stood by my choice for several reasons.
Teslas offer speed and responsiveness, and once you become accustomed to single-pedal driving, this feature becomes a game-changer. Besides, the cost savings are substantial, extending beyond just skipping the gas pump. Here’s how my Tesla ownership has translated into monetary benefits.
1. Initial Cost
One of the key debates about buying a Tesla is that you pay a premium for the savings on fuel. However, I beg to differ. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2023 Model Y Long Range starts at $37,890. After factoring in taxes and upgrades, my total expenditure was approximately $45,000. Vehicles in a similar price range include the Subaru Outback Limited, Audi A3, or Lexus UX.
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2. Reduced Fuel Expenditure
The most conspicuous and significant way that owning a Tesla saves money is by eliminating fuel costs. Unlike traditional gasoline-fueled cars, Teslas operate solely on electricity. Depending on your location and energy tariffs, electricity is considerably cheaper than gasoline. Charging my Tesla at home incurs minimal costs, and many workplaces and public charging stations offer complimentary or low-cost charging facilities.
I had a Tesla wall charger installed for around $600, with the charger priced at $425 and professional installation at $175. My Tesla is programmed to charge overnight in preparation for the next day. I’m enrolled in my local energy company’s EV program, which provides me with reduced rates between 10:01 pm and 8 am.
Based on the low nighttime EV rates of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, my monthly charging expenses amount to approximately $30. According to the Tesla app, I save about $150 per month on gas.
The best part is that this rate extends to all my electricity usage during those hours, not just for my Tesla. I schedule my dishwasher and laundry for midnight to yield overall electricity bill savings.
3. Decreased Maintenance Costs
Teslas comprise fewer moving parts compared to conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Consequently, there are fewer components susceptible to wear and requiring maintenance or replacement. I haven’t needed to change the oil, transmission fluid, or service the exhaust system. Due to the regenerative brakes, I only need to replace the brakes every 40,000 miles.
I seldom use the brakes and instead ease off the accelerator, which converts kinetic energy into electricity while coasting to a stop. This not only enhances energy efficiency but also diminishes wear and tear on brake pads and discs.
Here are the maintenance costs incurred during my ownership of the Tesla over the past two years:
Tires replaced after 35,000 miles: $1,500 (I chose premium Pirelli all-season tires that are foam-filled and specific to Teslas to reduce noise)
Annual Tire Rotation: $50
Annual change of cabin air filter: $53
The best part is that the tire rotation and air filter service are conducted right at my home, saving me time without needing to drive the vehicle or visit the dealer. I simply leave the car outside my garage, and if I’m not present, a Tesla technician can access the vehicle with my consent.
4. Federal and State Benefits
Depending on your location, you might be eligible for federal and state incentives when purchasing an electric vehicle. I didn’t have any incentives available at the time of purchase, but federal tax credits can substantially reduce the cost of a new Tesla.
Some states offer additional incentives, such as rebates, reduced registration fees, or access to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, which could further contribute to your savings.
If you own a small business and acquire a new Tesla in 2023, the Inflation Reduction Act enables eligible businesses to claim up to a $7,500 credit. Moreover, if you use your Tesla for business purposes at least 50% of the time, you can waive up to $28,900 because its weight exceeds 6,000 pounds.
5. Competitive Insurance Premiums
The cost of car insurance was another significant saving for me. I initially insured my Tesla through USAA as I had multiple vehicle and home insurance policies with the company. However, my monthly premium amounted to around $250.
Switching to Tesla insurance brought substantial savings. Tesla’s coverage isn’t available in every state, but if it is, it’s worth considering. The premium is based on your driving behavior, monitored through the Tesla app. Deter tailgating, aggressive cornering, or sudden braking to maintain a safety score above 90%.
I’ve managed to uphold a safety score of 96%, resulting in a monthly premium of $105 for full coverage of 100/300/100 insurance with a $500 deductible, including roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement. Last month, my safety score was at 94, leading to a premium of $113 per month.
The most appealing aspect of Tesla’s coverage for me was the option to add my other vehicles at a fixed rate of $90 per car for the same coverage as the primary Tesla, affording me substantial savings. One of my vehicle policies listed my teenager as a named insured, without incurring exorbitant premiums owing to her age.
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Overall, I am content with my Tesla. It has resulted in substantial savings in various aspects, all the while preserving a responsive driving experience and a sense of luxury. I did not delve into the environmental advantages of owning a Tesla as the discourse regarding whether electric vehicle batteries nullify potential sustainability benefits is ongoing.
If I were to share any drawbacks, I’d mention that the Tesla might be uncomfortable for extended or road trips. Range anxiety is a legitimate concern, and during the rare road trips I’ve taken, I’ve had to stop for recharging more frequently due to my heavy-footed driving.
Moreover, with the increasing ownership of Teslas, I’ve observed longer queues and wait times at the high-speed Superchargers. Furthermore, the prospect of Mercedes EV owners gaining access to Tesla Superchargers in 2024 could exacerbate these delays. Fortunately, I primarily use my Model Y within the city and charge it at home.
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This article was originally published on GOBankingRates.com: I drive a Tesla: Here’s how it saves me money